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Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2012: In writing and in life, Augusten Burroughs has repeatedly summoned the courage to grab the wolves of his past by their foaming muzzles and peer into their wild eyes until he owns them--and because of this, he's survived nearly every horrific experience a person in a modern-day, first-world country could face and emerged as an astonishingly well-adjusted person. After turning his profoundly messed-up early life and its alcoholic aftermath into six harrowing, uplifting memoirs--including Running with Scissors and Dry--Burroughs lost interest in writing about himself. He kept meeting people who were locked in the same struggles he’d overcome and decided they needed to know they had options for fixing their lives. In This Is How, Burroughs delivers prescriptions for handling life's most pernicious problems. Don't let the snake-oil-salesmannish title put you off: this is raw, hard-knock-life advice, veering from brutal to hilarious to deeply compassionate. Burroughs doesn’t really believe in "happiness" or "healing." He’s honest about the limits of recovery, but even those in the depths of despair will be energized by his exhortations to claw their way back to OK, even if it means leaving the life they’ve known in the dust. --Mari Malcolm
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Burroughs's voice is persuasive and humble, and he sounds like he genuinely wants to give good advice.” – AudioFile Magazine
Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works "Running with Scissors," "Dry," "Magical Thinking," "Possible Side Effects" and "A Wolf at the Table," all of which were New York Times bestsellers. "Running with Scissors" remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening. His only novel, "Sellevision," is currently in development as a series for NBC. "Dry," Augusten's memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten's latest book is called "You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas."
Twice named to Entertainment Weekly's list of the funniest people in America, Augusten has also been the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story and a Jeopardy! answer. His books have made guest appearances in two James Patterson novels, one Linkin Park music video, numerous television shows and a porn movie.
Augusten has been a photographer since childhood and many of his images can be seen on his website, www.augusten.com. He lives in New York City.
Judging by the slightly whimsical cover of this book and having read a couple of Augusten Burroughs' previous memoirs, I was expecting a darkly humorous skewering of the self-help movement and the state of psychiatry today. Burroughs has had a difficult life and has extensive experience with all sorts of social and mental health issues, as well as a lot of time spent with at least one psychiatrist, so I really thought it would be savagely funny.
Wrong! This is actually an honest-to-goodness self-help book. Sure, it might seem to be coming from a somewhat twisted perspective, and flies in the face of a lot of standard tropes of self-help, but Mr. Burroughs has written a serious and probing book about improving one's mental life and dealing with all sorts of issues, from addiction to grief. Each chapter discusses a different topic, and though the chapter headings might point to humor ("How to Fail," "How to End Your Life"), Burroughs has really thought through what he wants to say and lays it out in a mostly straightforward, honest way.
I think that some people will take issue with some of Burroughs' unconventional thoughts on certain issues like AA (he's got problems with it) and using affirmations (against it). He points out the mistakes that people make when thinking about their problems and offers solutions that worked for him. He uses examples from his own life to illustrate his points, instead of the cheery composite characters that most self-help books come up with. I loved that he writes in a straightforward manner and doesn't use ridiculous "systems" (follow the BrightThought principle!) or bullet points to cheerlead you on. It's refreshing to read a more realistic view of the world.Read more ›
My best friend was a little shocked when I explained that I'd read none of Augusten Burroughs' memoirs and had never even seen the movie. "I gather he had an unconventional upbringing," I said. My friend looked at me goggle-eyed.
So, I am not an Augusten Burroughs fan, and I'm significantly less a fan of the self-help genre. Why did I pick up this book? Well, it really was an unintimidating size, a factor which should never be underestimated. And the book has buzz. I like to read what people are talking about. But, perhaps most of all, I was expecting a self-help satire--I mean, look at the full title. But the joke was on me, because despite a little irreverent humor, Mr. Burroughs appears to be quite sincere in his advice giving.
Certainly, I paused a few times and wondered at his qualifications as an advice-provider, beyond, apparently, having made quite a few mistakes in his life. I didn't always agree with his suggestions, though most had the feel of good common sense that you sometimes need to hear from someone else. The author appears to be dispensing advice with kindness. What surprised me the most was that I kept turning pages, reading the book from cover to cover in an afternoon. It held my interest.
I think this was due to the breadth of topics covered. Some chapters were longer than others, but Mr. Burroughs kept things moving along swiftly. There was never a chance to grow bored.Read more ›
I wasn't sure what to make of this book at first. I've read all of Burroughs' other books and I love his brutally honest but funny no nonsense style of telling it like it is. That's what this book is full of. It's like a good friend sitting you down and giving you some really good, completely honest advice, with some damn funny anecdotes thrown in to illustrate the points he makes.
Some of my favorite advice: 'Wipe that f cking smile off you face. Unless of course, you didn't put it there. If it just happened, great. You can leave it be. But if you did manufacture that smile to try to maintain a sunny positive attitude, get rid of it. Put your bitter scowl back on. And stop standing up so straight. Instead of trying to alleviate some of the uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions you feel by "trying to be positive" try being negative instead.' But my all-time favorite has to be; 'Put another way, to be more confident you need to give a whole lot less of a sh t about what other people think of you.' I loved his advice and whole heartedly agree with much of it.
I was surprised to see many readers who read this had never read any of Augustens' other work. If you are a fan of Augusten Burroughs I think you will appreciate this. And if you are looking for some good no nonsense advice on how to live a better life you might appreciate it as well. Folks who are not fans of witty sometimes profane and irreverent humor might want to find something else to read.
This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More, For Young and Old Alike (Picador, 2013 reprint, $15) has minor flaws to irritate every reader. For me, the title on the dust-jacket of the original hardback was almost impossible to read, and certain sections of this “self-help” book—the chapter “How To Let A Child Die” was arrogant, sentimental, and condescending—were as annoying as a stink bug circling a light bulb. And yet the more I read This is How, the more I flipped the pages, skipping here and there from one essay to the other, the more I appreciated the wisdom and experience that Augusten Burroughs brings to the reader. Author of Running With Scissors, Dry, and other memoirs, all of which describe his difficult youth, his alcoholism and drugs, and his sexuality, Burroughs here gives such honest, direct advice, cutting through much of the cant that surrounds so many issues these day, that I found myself reading parts of the book aloud to friends and sharing with others some of the many examples served up here. In “How To Finish Your Drink,” for example, Burroughs discusses alcoholism, sobriety, and Alcoholics Anonymous. Though he believes that AA has helped drunks stay sober, and though he at one point attended AA meetings during his own battle with the bottle, Burroughs tells us what many former drunks already know: that you stop drinking when you want sobriety more. You stop getting wrecked when you decide you’d rather live without alcohol than bury yourself with a bottle. He writes: “My view is that the way to stop drinking is to stop drinking is laughably simplistic on the surface. It’s ‘Just say no.Read more ›
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