How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $25.00
  • Save: $7.85 (31%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
How Should a Person Be?: ... has been added to your Cart
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by Chi Media
Condition: :
Comment: Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Tracking number provided with every order. Slight wear on edges and covers; otherwise item is in very good condition.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life Hardcover – June 19, 2012


See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$17.15
$5.77 $3.84

"Notes From a Dead Horse" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
From the acclaimed translators Pevear and Volokhonsky comes a new translation of the first great prison memoir: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s fictionalized account of his life-changing penal servitude in Siberia. See more
$17.15 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Frequently Bought Together

How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life + The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City
Price for both: $27.08

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

"The Weary Blues" by Langston Hughes
Nearly ninety years after its first publication, this celebratory edition of "The Weary Blues" reminds us of the stunning achievement of Langston Hughes, who was just twenty-four at its first appearance. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805094725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805094725
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Heti truly has a startling voice all her own, and a fresh take on fiction and autobiography's overlap. Her mix of hyperreal detail, sweeping gestures from the realm of parable, and self-reflexive distortions leaves us wondering what's real and what's invented. — Johanna Fateman

Review

A New York Times Notable Book of 2012

"Ms. Heti’s deadpan, naked voice is what makes Sheila’s journey so engaging… [Her] mordant take on modernity encourages introspection. It is easy to see why a book on the anxiety of celebrity has turned the author into one herself." –The Economist.

"A significant cultural artifact."—LA Review of Books

“Funny…odd, original, and nearly unclassifiable…Sheila Heti does know something about how many of us, right now, experience the world, and she has gotten that knowledge down on paper, in a form unlike any other novel I can think of.” David Haglund, The New York Times Book Review

"Utterly contemporary, wickedly clever, and profoundly irreverent." -- Lilith Magazine

“[Sheila Heti] has an appealing restlessness, a curiosity about new forms, and an attractive freedom from pretentiousness or cant…How Should a Person Be? offers a vital and funny picture of the excitements and longueurs of trying to be a young creator in a free, late-capitalist Western City…This talented writer may well have identified a central dialectic of twenty-first-century postmodern being.” James Wood, The New Yorker

“Brutally honest and stylistically inventive, cerebral and sexy, this ‘novel from life’ employs a grab bag of literary forms and narrative styles on its search for the truth…meandering and entertaining exploration of the big questions, rousting aesthetic, moral, religious and ethical concerns most novels wouldn’t touch.” –Michael David Lukas, San Francisco Chronicle

“A perfect summer read. It is also one of the bravest, strangest, most original novels I’ve read this year…We care about Sheila’s plight, but the souls in limbo here are, ultimately, our own. With so many references to the world outside of the fiction, this novel demands to know: Can art inform our lives, and tell us how to be?” Christopher Boucher, The Boston Globe

“It’s a bawdy, idiosyncratic novel about art, sex, Toronto, female friendship, and the endless quest to learn how to live.  The title makes me quake with envy.  All good books should be called just that.”--Chad Harbach, Entertainment Weekly’s “Hey, what are you reading?”

"Original...hilarious...Part confessional, part play, part novel, and more—it’s one wild ride...Think HBO’S Girls in book form." —Marie Claire

How Should a Person Be? teeters between youthful pretension and irony in ways that are as old as Flaubert’s Sentimental Education. . .  but Ms. Heti manages to give Sheila’s struggle a contemporary and particular feel. . . How Should a Person Be? reveals a talented young voice of a still inchoate generation.” Kay Hymowitz, The Wall Street Journal

“I read this eccentric book in one sitting, amazed, disgusted, intrigued, sometimes titillated I’ll admit to that, but always in awe of this new Toronto writer who seems to be channeling Henry Miller one minute and Joan Didion the next.  Heti’s book is pretty ugly fiction, accent on the pretty.”– Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered

“Heti’s craft never fails…Novels are supposed to grab one’s attention, and Heti’s wonderfully baggy, honest and affecting book does exactly that.” – New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Not the kind of book that comes along often. It’s highly quotable, funny, shocking, anxiety-inducing and, finally, inspiring… It is undeniably of the moment, a blueprint of how to be lost in the Internet Age.” – Thought Catalog

 “Heti’s book is so boldly original, each sentence so gorgeously rendered, that the distinction between exceptional novel and exceptional memoir seems irrelevant.”Michael Schaub, NPR Books

“Heti knows what she’s doing—much of the pleasure of How Should a Person Be? comes from watching her control the norms she’s subverting.” –Michelle Dean, Slate

"[A] really amazing metafiction-meets-nonfiction novel that’s so funny and strange.  It has a lot of the same concerns that Girls does.” —Lena Dunham, Entertainment Weekly's "Stars Own Must List"

"[A] breakthrough novel...Just as Mary McCarthy’s The Company She Keeps (written at the same age) was an explosive and thrilling rejoinder to the serious, male coming-of-age saga exemplified during her era by Sartre’s The Age of Reason, Heti’s book exuberantly appropriates the same, otherwise tired genre to encompass female experience. How Should a Person Be?’s deft, picaresque construction, which lightly-but-devastatingly parodies the mores of Toronto’s art scene, has more in common with Don Quixote than with Lena Dunham’s HBO series “Girls” or the fatuous blogs and social media it will, due to its use of constructed reality, inevitably be compared with…Like [Kathy] Acker, [Heti] is a brilliant, original thinker and an engaging writer. " Chris Kraus, LA Review of Books

“If you're not already reading Sheila Heti's second novel How Should A Person Be?, you should be. Heti's rousing, unapologetically messy, beautifully written, insightful and provocative book explores the frustrations and rewards of female friendship, and of trying to make art as a young woman in the 21st century. . . Heti is doing something very exciting within the form of the novel.” —Jezebel

“Heti excels at developing a cast of engaging, colorful and flawed characters.”– Willamette Week

“Enlightening, profoundly intelligent, and charming to read. . . . It reflects life in its incredible humor—and in some of its weird bits that might be muddled or unclear . . . with anxiety, hilarity and lots of great conversation.” – Interview Magazine

“There are no convenient epiphanies in Sheila Heti’s newest book How Should a Person Be? Instead there are several intertwined, grinding and brilliantly uncomfortable ones that require the reader to shed a few dozen layers in the service of self-discovery. .  . She may depart from broad harbors, but she is an analytic zealot, never imparting trite one-liners or excusing herself. Reading her is an act of participation, discomfort and joy.” – SF Weekly

“Lena Dunham loves this novel…A fresh spin on friendship, art, sex, and philosophy in five acts. And the prose, often taking the form of a numbered list, is always engaging.” –Daily Candy

“[Heti creates] one of the most personable antiheroes ever… Her tone can be earnest and eager to please, flippant and crass, terribly lucid and darkly funny… Her tortured self-deprecation can read a little like Violette Leduc’s, and her poetic bluntness sometimes reminds me of Eileen Myles, but these authors come to mind mostly because, like Heti, they have written about women with unusual detail and feeling. Heti truly has a startling voice all her own, and a fresh take on fiction and autobiography’s overlap.” —Bookforum

"A new kind of book and new kind of person. A book that risks everything—shatters every rule we women try to follow in order to be taken seriously—and thus is nothing less than groundbreaking: in form, sexually, relationally and as a major literary work. With this complex, artfully messy and hilarious novel, Heti has done the rare and generous thing of creating more room for the rest of us. This is how a person should be."—Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You and It Chooses You

“Oh crap. I don’t know how to begin talking about Sheila Heti or how good she is.  People will say How Should A Person Be? is reminiscent of Patti Smith’s Just Kids or Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty and both of these things will be true.  But I am still reeling from the originality of this novel.  There are passages here so striking, to read them is to be punched in the heart.”—Sloane Crosley, author of How Did You Get This Number

"A seriously strange but funny plunge into the quest for authenticity."—Margaret Atwood, @MargaretAtwood

"The book’s form is fluid and unpredictable… [and] the architecture gives the prose a circular, easy feeling, even though Heti is taking a hard look at what makes life meaningful and how one doesn’t end up loveless and lost. It is book peopled by twentysomethings but works easily as a manual for anyone who happens to have run into a spiritual wall."—Sasha Frere-Jones, The Paris Review

"Utterly beguiling: blunt, charming, funny, and smart. Heti subtly weaves together ideas about sex, femininity and artistic ambition. Reading this genre-defying book was pure pleasure."—David Shields, author of Reality Hunger

"[A]n unforgettable book: intellectually exacting, unsettling in its fragility, bodily as anything painted by Freud, experimental yet crafted as hell, and yes, very funny."—The National Post

"Sheila Heti’s novel-from-life, How Should a Person Be?, was published in Canada in 2010, but won’t be out in the US until next June. Watch for it – it’s great." —Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding

“Original, contemplative, and often tangential, this is an unorthodox compilation of colorful characters, friendship, and sex that provides an unusual answer to Heti’s [titular] question.”—Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

No sense of plot, story, and no likeable characters whatsoever.
DarTheStar
A lot of the writing is almost stream of consciousness but to my mind it doesn't wholly convinced - other authors have done it in much more readable fashion.
Damaskcat
In the end, I did find some of the book incredibly insightful, but overall it wasn't worth reading through the rest to get there.
Christine Zibas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Parker Sims on August 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is not a novel for the faint of heart. It is at times crushing, hilarious, biting, and insightful. But more than anything, it is brave. Heti is genius in a way that hurts my feelings, and she risks our understanding of that brilliance by delivering a novel that is meticulously crafted to feel ugly. The complexity, the vulgarity, and the flip dialogue are no mistake, oversight, or a symptom of lazy writing. Like it or not, you connect with the protagonist--and Heti herself--because she is as scattered and insecure as we all are. That's why we love her, why we hate her, and sometimes why we can't stand her (as previous reviews can attest). It's those qualities, or lack thereof, that make the book such an arresting read.

Though I suspected at first I wasn't the target audience, I plowed through this unlikely masterwork in a weekend. It's a daring piece of literary "fiction" that you really have to let wash over you. I had never read anything like it (and I doubt many have), yet it always felt familiar. It's an important book, one I've been recommending to nearly everyone I know.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By rantboi VINE VOICE on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The main reason I chose to read this novel is that another reviewer compared it to Scarlett Thomas, one of my favorite novelists. While I do see some similarities, I think that Thomas has far more interesting ideas that she explores with her writing, at least to me. How Should A Person Be? is a (semi?) autobiographical novel, whose main character, Sheila, is working on a play and hangs out with her artist friends, pondering the question in the title: how should a person be? I found the beginning of the novel to be quite boring, especially when she talked about her failed marriage. Thankfully, soon Sheila meets Margaux, a painter, and things get interesting from there. We get transcripts of conversations recorder on Sheila's recorder, and plenty of e-mails. I love that kind of stuff in novels. She also meets Israel, an artist that she says is much better in bed than at art. There is a quite explicit chapter close to the middle of the book where Sheila rants about Israel and how everyone should get together with him, which was quite hilarious. There was a chapter in the beginning of the book where Sheila talks to her Jungian analyst about what it means to be a puer aeternus, a person who never really grows up. That section spoke to me more than anything else in the whole book.

Overall, I really liked How Should A Person Be? It was a pretty quick read. It was at turns boring, depressing, funny, touching, insightful, and even repulsive. It's a novel about what it means to be an artist, what it means to be a woman, and more importantly, what it means to be human. There is no great answer at the end of the book, but isn't that the way life is anyway?

Recommended if you're in the mood for something a little different, that makes you think about the meaning (or meaninglessness) of it all, for a little while.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Maryinsky on June 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A friend wanted me to read this, so I did; otherwise I wouldn't have read it to the end. I thought it was going to be interesting memoir, experimentally played out to make her meaningful titles reveal something, or suggest something, or ask the right questions or something. Perhaps I am the wrong generation to find her observations anything but ordinary or sometimes self-indulgent--it might take a very young 20-something to be surprised or interested in what she does and "discovers." I tried to re-engage on a different level occasionally--surely there was something there that made it a bestselling or notable book of some kind; I wanted to know its heart to talk to my friend who recommended it. I couldn't find anything worthwhile. But I have particular tastes--in contemporary fiction they are Kingsolver, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields. Then there are Austen, Trollope, Arnold Bennett, Barbara Pym, Mgt Drabble, Mgt Lawrence, V Woolf, Raymond Carver, IB Singer. They all have their version of "how a person should be" built into their stories and repay rereading.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback
Uhm. This is fake memoir. So the character is not the author. The character is annoying on purpose, not by chance. I think some readers need a tutorial on prose and literature and the difference between authors and their creations. Start with the bible. King David killed a man to marry his wife, Bethsheba. His wife gives him a son who rebels and dies by getting his hair caught in a tree. Pretty unsympathetic all around. That's why its good lit. Russian writers. Ditto. If you want sympathetic characters then watch TV. Okay?
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful By K. Sullivan VINE VOICE on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sheila is a divorced playwright living in Toronto. Although she has a broader social circle centered in the local art scene, she latches onto one particular artist, Margaux, after her divorce. They quickly journey from casual acquaintance and mutual admiration to close friendship, something more fulfilling but entailing more risk as well. Romantically, she becomes the lust interest of the sexy, brooding artist, Israel. The novel uses these relationships as a means for Sheila's self-exploration. Structurally, there's a loose linear narrative, but it's hardly the book's focus. Sheila is obsessed with determining how she should live. How is a young female artist supposed to be? As she reminisces about past boyfriends, finds and loses a husband, makes new friends, and struggles to write (and alternately to avoid writing) a "feminine" (if not feminist) play - while her friends compete to see who can create the ugliest painting - she reveals herself and her search to the reader.

"How Should a Person Be?" is no conventional novel, but a fictionalized (to what extent?) memoir. Sheila is the only character developed in any way. Margaux and Israel (and the other bit players) exist only as a means for Sheila's own self-exploration and expression. So if Margaux appears to be something of an artistic savant, incredibly gifted but socially awkward and aloof, and Israel appears to be sadistic and perverse, focused only on deriving sexual pleasure from Sheila's humiliation, perhaps they aren't to blame. Sheila's inner life is the novel's focus.

Sheila is an engaging, fascinating protagonist. Profoundly self-aware, she exposes her thoughts, feelings, and motivations with complete transparency.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Sheila Heti is the author of six books, most recently the New York Times Bestseller, Women in Clothes. Before that, she published the novel How Should a Person Be? which was nominated for The Women's Prize for Fiction and named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Salon and other places. She lives in Toronto and has written for The London Review of Books, n+1, Harper's and more, and is a contributing editor at The Believer magazine.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life
This item: How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life
Price: $25.00 $17.15
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com