How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

Published January 15, 2023

How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

Book info

  • Title How to be Perfect
  • Author Michael Schur
  • Year 2022
  • Genre Non-fiction

How can we live a more ethical life? This question has plagued people for thousands of years, but it's never been tougher to answer than it is now, thanks to challenges great and small that flood our day-to-day lives and threaten to overwhelm us with impossible decisions and complicated results with unintended consequences. Plus, being anything close to an 'ethical person' requires daily thought and introspection and hard work; we have to think about how we can be good not, you know, once a month, but literally all the time. To make it a little less overwhelming, this fascinating, accessible and funny book by one of our generation's best writers and adept minds in television comedy, Michael Schur, boils down the whole confusing morass with real life dilemmas (from 'should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?' to 'can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people?'), so that we know how to deal with ethical dilemmas. Much as Chidi used humour and philosophy to make Eleanor a less selfish person, Schur takes us on a journey through the 2,500-year discussion of ethics, sketching a roadmap for how we ought to act along the way. By the time the book is done, we'll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we'll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.


I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I loved this. My knowledge of philosophy has only ever been ‘I think therefore I am’ and the trolley problem, and that’s even having watched and adored every series of The Good Place. But I remember listening to the podcast that accompanied the show and whenever creator Mike Shur was on, it was always fascinating. This book is basically an extension of those epiosdes.

Mike talks us through his research that helped him create and run The Good Place, essentially taking your hand and describing moral philosophy in a way that is approachable, friendly, and of course funny. The examples really bring to life what can be some difficult concepts and I just really loved and learned a lot from start to finish.

I listened to the audiobook which was even better because it features guest voice appearances from the cast of the show, and really handles footnotes exceptionally well. Top notch and highly recommended.

Rating: 5 / 5

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