Reporting on 12 Lessons for Life

I think that the rather stratified opinions regarding our read this month: 12 Lessons for Life we well captured by the two generous reviews provided by absent members. Thanks for those.

The reactions to Peterson were mixed. Enticed by a rather intriguing interview on Channel 4, his latest work promised to be a controversial read if nothing else.

Building on the pre-shared reviews, our Waterloo Bar discussions found an agreement that the book was too long, by at least half if not more. The author seemed to be carried away with his analogies, some anecdotal, some seemingly plucked out of context of the original authors vast and varied. It was suggested that the inclusion of religion/spiritual dimensions – as much stemming from his earlier work – possibly were directed to appeal to his particular audience.

There were questions asked – and not necessarily answered – around why this book was proffered at this time. Was it because he had gained a degree of notoriety around his challenges to human rights/freedom of speech and transgender? Was he seizing on an opportunity to become one of the bestselling books currently on the charts? He is clearly a superb debater – but with an almost bullying style. The wagging finger …

Those around the table asked the question about whether the rather basic lessons (ones that we really wouldn’t argue with) needed that extensive discussion.

There was a recurring tendency to elaborate extensively and provide detail that didn’t always seem to come to any conclusion and often seemed to defy segue to subsequent discussion. Was there an editor even involved in the work? Would Peterson have exerted his influence over one? Who? Would he actually have cared? Would the audience that has seemed to have flocked to it have really cared?

From my perspective, there was a simple enough message: there are winners and losers. Choose to be a winner. Accept responsibility for yourself, avoid accepting responsibility for others and succeed. As one correspondent suggested – this may well have been entitled 12 Varieties of Snake Oil…hmmm. Jim further suggested that were he a better writer and had he backed his contentions up with more evidence, but he’d probably then have provided enough ammunition for his dismissal by his university. Maybe it was carefully written to the level it was.

I am on the harsher side and was glad to see that some of our number appreciated the work and made the read. I believe that approx 50% of our number present managed to work all the way through – with varying degrees of attention to the extensive prose.

So the scores on the board:
Joe – 1
Fergal – NV
Brian M – 6.5
Jim – 3.5
Mike – 6.5
Brian C – 3
Declan – 3.5
Shawn – 1.5
For an average of 3.64.
There was a round of drinks offered by the recommended. Thanks to Mike for the recommendation and for making the trip out despite a very early morning departure the morning following.

On the table for the April read :

Eleanor Elephant is Just Fine – Brian M and Brian C
Midnight’s Children – Fergal
The Betrayal – Declan
Crimean/Tales of the Caucasus – Mike

And the winner is:

The Betrayal by Helen Dunsmore (available for Kindle seemingly globally) – recommended by Declan.

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