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This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The prose does seem a little dry to me, especially when I was expecting something more humorous or flippant, but it's definitely more readable than the standard self-help book. I didn't agree with everything he said and take it all with a grain of salt, but I think this book holds up as well as anything else written by a psychologist or psychiatrist. It could be helpful for a person who struggles with their problems yet hasn't found a solution in the typical self-help book, a person who doesn't want to try to force themselves to be cheerful all the time or follow prescribed notions of how to be "happy."
I read a pre-publication copy, so I'm hoping that it isn't marketed as humor or memoir because I think people will get the wrong impression. I liked the front cover (it has a little blurry mirror embedded in it and a kind of old-fashioned hucksterish typestyle), but it also gives the impression that it's going to be humor. Frankly, I was a little disappointed and don't think it's his best work, but it seems like it was something that he really needed to write and he genuinely seems to want to help others with his advice.
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. Each chapter is presented as a "How to," and they are as follows:
How to Ride an Elevator
How to Feel Like "S" word (It doesn't say that; edited to appease Amazon Powers That Be)
How to Find Love
How to Be Fat
How to Be Thin
How to Feel Sorry for Yourself
How to Be Confident
How to Fail
How to Shatter Shame
How to See the Truth Behind the Truth
How to End Your Life
How to Remain Unhealed
Why Having It All Is Not
How to Get Over Your Addiction to the Past
How to Be a Good Mental Patient
How to Make Yourself Uncomfortable (And Why You Should)
How to Finish Your Drink
How to Hold on to Your Dream Or Maybe Not
How to Identify Love by Knowing What It's Not
How to Live Unhappily Ever After
How to Feel Less Regret
How to Stop Being Afraid of Your Anger
How to Be Sick
How to Lose Someone You Love
How to Let a Child Die
How to Change the World by Yourself
This is Why
These may not seem like typical self-help topics, but I promise you, if there isn't something here that has resonance in your life, well, you lead a charmed life indeed. And, as you may gather by some of these chapter headings, some of it gets heavy. Difficult topics are handled with sensitivity.
I'm not entirely sure who this book is aimed at. I suppose if you're already a Burroughs fan, you'll just enjoy this visit with a well-meaning friend. And if you're a big consumer of self-help books, this is a buffet, with a little bit of everything. I'm neither, and this was not a book I really need to read--and yet, I don't regret having done so. Perhaps the advice will come in handy someday.