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QBD Reviews: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson

Clinical psychologist and academic, Doctor Jordan Peterson, has made a splash across bestseller lists with his book ’12 Rules for Life’. It has been called ‘Self-Help’, and it has been categorised in ‘Business’, but it leans much more toward a kind of personal-political manifesto; a response to a range of radical ideas that have been drifting into the mainstream over the last decade or so, much of it through the academy and publishing industry itself. He has upset people, chiefly, the pushers of these ideas. The ease and glibness with which Peterson is branded as a ‘right-winger’ or even a ‘nazi’ only goes further to prove his point of view regarding the ills he identifies, particularly in the fragmenting public sphere.

But aside from the politics, Peterson puts an importance on reading, and reading well - the kinds of books that have been foundational to how we have come about as a people and the underpinnings of us psychologically: a canon.

Naturally enough, these are books that have been around a while, what we would call ‘Classics’. His reading lists on the internet have been expanded several times, and have led to a distinct up-turn of interest in the Classics region of the bookshop. If Rowling has been thought of as being responsible for a renaissance in reading-for-children, is Peterson becoming responsible for a renaissance in reading for young-adults … and in classic indispensable canonic literature?

To go back is often a decent way to deal with discovering that you are going the wrong way, or that you are lost entirely. To be constantly progressive is only good if you have a decent idea of where you are progressing to ... and that you want to be there. These readers, many of whom have been abandoned by the contemporary publishing world, are finding that great books, unlike films or many other mediums of art, tend to become more relevant and more valuable the older they become. And they are very readily available.

Primary among these works for Peterson is Solzhenitsyn's ‘The Gulag Archipelago’, so much so that he will be contributing a new introduction to a fiftieth anniversary edition due out this November. It’s been out of print in most English-speaking countries for a number of years, so that fact that this great work is getting a fiftieth anniversary treatment at all could be down to him anyway.

Why is this book so important to Peterson? One reason he lists on his Patreon site:

It's necessary for all of us (the moderate left included) to determine exactly when and why the good intentions of the egalitarian-minded go so terribly wrong.

Solzhenitsyn's work focuses on the evils of the Soviet empire and its treatment of dissidents and criminals, political and otherwise. It is a profound, utterly gruelling and harrowing account based on the author’s own experience. It is plain and unadorned, letting the action speak for itself in all its bleak horror. By being concerned for ‘when’, Peterson hints that there might be a tipping point that serves us Stalinism, some kind of ongoing but, on the face of it, altruistic formula that at some point goes badly wrong when we fundamentally combine authoritarianism with collectivism. It is why he puts such an emphasis on personal responsibility in his own book. If you can’t change yourself for the better, just this one person, then what hope do you have in changing a society for the better? Is it any wonder the Gulags appear and get filled?

So it is certainly worth returning to a canon, and Peterson’s is a good one.

And while Peterson’s plain white book goes head to head with the bright orange-covered and playful ‘Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’, he has no easy answers, and these books in the canon don’t offer the reader any quick fix either. They offer you a further and deeper relationship with yourself, a forthright art of giving a f*ck about yourself and how you might become even more so ... yourself.

Reviewsday: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Explosive from the first kindling down to the last ember. Krysten Ritter has a detailed imagination and, in her debut novel, she weaves a mysterious web.

Protagonist Abby Williams returns to her small county hometown of Barrens to investigate a case of corporate pollution in the reservoir. This case burns a little too bright and hits a little too close to home for Abby, and the fire begins to entrance her, leading her on a downward spiral towards the truth. She didn't really come home for the case, she came home in search of her missing school friend turned tormentor- Kaycee. And she'll walk through fire to find out what happened to her. Did she simply walk away from their hometown of Barrens? Or is there a dark secret waiting to be uncovered?

- Erin Glover

 

Author Guest Post: Serena Hodson Tells Us About Her New Book!

Photographer Serena Hodson takes beautiful colour photographs of man's best friend ... but her furry subjects are all upside down. Today, she tells us how she came up with the inspiration for her gorgeous new book 'Upside Down Dogs'.

"When I first got involved in photography, I saw it as a hobby – a way for me to record those magical moments that happen in an animal’s everyday life. At the time I was living with Rocco, my bullmastiff and my sister’s dachshund, Ralph. Their relationship was my inspiration and what I managed to capture drove me to take my photography seriously. I’ve always been an animal lover, but I never knew that passion would lead to my life’s purpose – photography. This creative outlet allows me to capture the joy dogs bring to my life and then share that with the world.

I believe every animal has a secret life – a unique personality that few people get to witness – that’s why I get so much satisfaction from capturing each individual animal’s expression. My aim is to capture that unique personality and humour that animals can bring into our lives. I believe a home isn’t complete without a companion animal.
Upside Down Dogs began with a simple idea – to capture the delight and joy of dogs in an upside down pose. The way dog’s lips and wrinkles drop towards gravity almost gives this impression they are smiling and their facial expressions offer an antidote to human stress.

My two bulldogs Simon and Garfunkel make me laugh every day – they bring an optimistic and fun-loving perspective to my day. A ride in the car is like a rollercoaster ride, a bowl of kibble is a delicious 5-star meal and rolling around on their backs is heaven on earth for them. This is where I saw my first glimpse of ‘Upside Down Dog’ captured in that unique moment of upside-down-bliss. Though this angle on dogs is original in publishing I think it’s familiar to anyone who lives with a dog.

Luckily my four-legged models are photogenic from any angle, especially when they are relaxed and happy with their place in the world (ie. on a bed). I wanted to photograph different breeds to allow a broad range of subjects to be captured for maximum audience appeal. Not every dog was comfortable to lie on their backs straight away while a complete stranger pointed an unusual object at them. Some took more time and calm energy to relax – others were not so shy and flopped like a sack of potatoes. The book was incredibly fun to make and I loved every minute from the more challenging subjects to manoeuvring enormous drooling Mastiffs on and off their backs. It was such a privilege to meet so many wonderful dogs and their humans.

I hope this book goes to the heart of why humans and dogs have such a wonderful symbiotic relationship and people visually enjoy as much as I did photographing it. I think we need dogs to help us find joy in everyday pleasures, and our dogs need us to make the bed so they can jump up and roll around."