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Possible Side Effects

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  35,966 Ratings  ·  1,283 Reviews

National Bestseller

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors comes Augusten Burroughs's most provocative collection of true stories yet. From nicotine gum addiction to lesbian personal ads to incontinent dogs, Possible Side Effects mines Burroughs's life in a series of uproariously funny essays. These are stories that are uniquely Augusten, wit
Paperback, 291 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Picador (first published May 2nd 2006)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsGood Omens by Terry PratchettLamb by Christopher MooreThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Best Humorous Books
156th out of 3,119 books — 6,091 voters
Running with Scissors by Augusten BurroughsThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisDry by Augusten BurroughsTo Live and Drink in L.A. by Ben Peller
Best Strange and Twisted Memoirs
21st out of 323 books — 836 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 16, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Another great book from one of my favorite authors. I bought this for my dad as well. He also loved it.

Favorite quotes:
Although my parents never attended church or mentioned Jesus except when they screamed at each other—and then they used his full name, 'Jesus Fucking Christ'.

I am prone to envy. It is one of my three default emotions, the others being greed and rage. I have also experienced compassion and generosity, but only fleetingly and usually while drunk, so I have little memory.

The thing
Dec 01, 2007 Lain rated it it was amazing
Augusten Burroughs is that wonderfully witty guy in the cubicle behind the filing cabinet who sends you snarky e-mails about your co-worker's shoes and your boss' receding hairline. Oh, how I wish I knew this guy in person! Fortunately, with "Possible Side Effects" I can pretend for a while that he is on my speed dial.

"Side Effects" is another collection of stories of dysfunctional relationships, love affairs gone awry, childhood horror stories, and more tales of life in the big city. Though he
RE-READ 03/09/2014

I think my reaction to Augusten Burroughs's short stories is based on my mood.

If I am in an exceptionally great mood - happy, well-fed, just had a great conversation or meal with a friend - I think his stories are hilarious. I laugh out loud and grin. "Oh, Augusten," I think, shaking my head in amazement. "You're so funny!"

But if it's any other time - then I see Augusten Burroughs as a man who has suffered through a lot of pain. And I think his stories are a reflection of that.
Patti McAllister
Apr 16, 2007 Patti McAllister rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Eh.
Shelves: memoirs
I enjoyed Running With Scissors as much as anyone else who enjoys a read that makes your family look significantly less fucked up, so I decided that I'd give Possible Side Effects a shot. I found this book to be a lot less organized than Running With Scissors, and the essays themselves offered little to no payoff. Most of them end in the "and then I found $50." fashion that is consistent with Burroughs's essay writing. The difference here is that the essays in Running With Scissors were signific ...more
May 14, 2008 Kalisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You want to know why I love Augusten Burroughs so? Because he writes sentences like this:

“And with these words – I don’t think you’re supposed to be aware of your own heartbeat – this unknown woman in a burnt orange poncho doomed me to a life of pathological overawareness of my own cardiac activity.”

That right there is just fucking brilliant writing.

The chapter entitled "The Wisdom Tooth" where they stay at an inn owned by a doll collector is classic. That essay should be studied in colleges e
Sep 26, 2007 Kelly rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Augusten Burroughs fans
Shelves: memoirs
The first few stories bored me to tears. Boy loses tooth, NEXT! Man spends days in London hotel room watching BBC, stuffing his fat face and bashing Americans. Ok. Men acquire naughty puppy. zzz I don't need my books to be action-packed, but the pace of these essays is so slow that even the punctuation is starting to piss me off. Sentence fragments galore make for an even slower read. In the subsequent stories I have chuckled a few times, but I am irritated at Mr. Burrough's masturbatory met
Jun 18, 2008 Gk rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who took high school musicals seriously
Shelves: memoir
Like reaching past the Harvest Wheat and grabbing the Coco Puffs and loving it.
Mar 30, 2008 Deb rated it it was amazing
I am about halfway through this collection of autobiographical essays, and I love it every bit as much as I loved "Magical Thinking." Burroughs presents himself as this detached, selfish, self-absorbed man, but the stories he shares reveal him to be a tenderhearted person who is acutely aware of his foibles.
I love reading about his relationship with Dennis. I love that he marvels that someone as wonderful as Dennis could love him so much. Their unabashed adoration of their dogs hits home with me
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Aug 19, 2013 Kelly (and the Book Boar) rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Augusten Burroughs gives me a happy. While Running With Scissors contains MANY shocking/graphic/awful stories that are frosted with humor, Possible Side Effects provides all the giggle without the remorse of laughing at someone else’s expense. Burroughs’ essays are sheer comedic genius. Truly laugh out loud funny – so much so that I was CONSTANTLY inundated with “what’s so funny, Mom?????” from the small people who live with me. FYI – the appropriate answer to that question when reading Augusten ...more
Feb 07, 2009 Dan rated it really liked it
I don't know if it's a new thing but, there seems to be a developing genre of authors who's focus is on their own lives, which have been tortured by mental illness and any number of substance abuse problems. Actually, when I stop to think about it, maybe this style has been around longer than I think. Jack Kerouac? Ernest Hemingway?

Whether it is a new genre or not, Augusten Burroughs' writing falls squarely in this realm. "Possible Side Effects" is a collection of hilarious but also often sad es
May 04, 2009 Chris rated it did not like it
Turns out I'm not a fan. This is no wonder,as I am not a fan of David Sedaris, either; these two authors share a lot of similarities in my opinion. Both remind me of better educated Paris Hiltons. Both write with a smugness that I find distasteful. They both seem to share the disdain for America in favor of Europe and the laissez-faire attitude that seems to prevail there. They both assume that the reader knows who they are and have read all of their previous books, so therefore the reader knows ...more
Dec 18, 2010 Peacegal rated it it was ok
Most of this book’s chapters were laugh-out-loud hilarious. While I truly enjoyed the majority of the book, my enthusiasm was dampened a bit by the author’s stories about his experiences buying dogs.

“Kitty, Kitty,” chronicles the author’s short-lived ownership of a Wheaten terrier puppy named, well, KittyKitty. Burroughs impulsively buys the dog at a time when his life is in shambles and he is in no place to take on the responsibility of a pet. He would have had an excuse, I suppose, if he were
May 14, 2009 Andre rated it liked it
In case you didn't know, this, along with "Magical Thinking", is a book of short stories. ("Magical Thinking" received better reviews on both but the same rating on Amazon. I'll read MT sometime soon and you'll probably see a comparison in that review.)

Not as good as Dry or Running With Scissors, but it's a quick read. I wouldn't recommend reading them all (unless you're just completely bored). Here is what I'd consider "required" and "optional" reading. (Not all of the stories are
Sep 02, 2009 Mallory rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Burroughs, short-fiction enthusiasts
Augusten Burroughs is a fantastic writer. Dry is a fantastic book - funny, heartbreaking, insane, moving, all the words you want to use to describe a memoir - and Running with Scissors is hysterical and troubling. This book is a collection of short works, which, while still good reading, falls short of Burroughs' standard.

Burroughs' short fiction, in my opinion, lacks the depth of his other writing. Some stories are incredible, but a lot of them fall short of the mark. My biggest problem is with
Oct 20, 2012 Stacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Possible Side Effects is basically a memoir made up of short stories taken from different times in Augusten Burroughs life.

It amazes me that Burroughs has wrote so many books about his own life yet, while I haven't read them all yet, it never seems boring or repetitive. If anything, I find myself (perhaps selfishly) hoping that he still has more to write about.

I love reading about his life. I love how he is able to write with such honesty and insight, while not drifting into pretentiousness. Bur
Oct 07, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok
Recommended to Rachel by: Melinda
Reminiscent of the works of David Sedaris (amusing anecdotes told tongue-in-cheek and very much informed by the sexual identity of the author) these stories lack the reluctant depth that keeps Sedaris afloat. Although Burroughs has clearly endured some trying experiences, he lacks either the writing chops or the perspective to transfer them to the page in a non-static way. Although some of his tales are lovely and funny, some of them fall quite flat, as though tossed in between the real stories ...more
Mrs. McGregor
Apr 03, 2007 Mrs. McGregor rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, humor
Possible Side Effects shows us more than anything that Burroughs is living a happy, successful life. While still haunted by demons from his perilous childhood, he has conquered many of them, and the rest he lives with. I find it hard to not be happy that Burroughs has reached this pinnacle in his life. He certainly deserves it. However, it's not as interesting to read about his happy life with his partner Dennis or his success as an author as it is to read about him living with his mom's shrink ...more
Aug 28, 2009 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparent brutal honesty of retelling stories of his life had me feeling a wonderful range of emotions. Interest, pondering, laughter, empathetic sorrow and pain, anger and a peculiar sense of justice.

He writes very well for a self confessed high school drop-out. Each chapter is an event from a period in his life, which he weaves into something which is eminently re-tellable.

Perhaps it is just my own sense of connection with events which had me nodding along between chuckles and often finding m
Kaloyana Slavova
May 19, 2013 Kaloyana Slavova rated it really liked it
Всяка глава от книгата е отделна случка от живота на автора. Това е живот на съвременен човек, с проблемите на съвременния човек - алкохолизъм, самота, липса на разбирателство, но всичко разказано много весело, леко, непринудено.
Написана много остроумно, с добро чувство за хумор книга, която донякъде напомня да добрите години на Бегбеде, но без неприятната претенция на французина.
Много одобрявам и ще прочета още от този американец.
Alex Duncan
Jul 08, 2013 Alex Duncan rated it did not like it
This book shows what happens when you go back to the well and the well is dry. I hated it.
Oct 07, 2014 Rljulie rated it it was ok
Sad, narcissistic, alcoholic stories. I can't remember why I wanted to read this book.

To me it seems like Burroughs's agent said "hey, man, enough time has gone by since we last published a book, you should do another one" and Burroughs complied with a series of essays that are...unremarkable, so far: little blog posts of short memoirs, to which there seems to be no theme and no purpose, just the certainty that the author has a big enough name and a big enough following that people will buy wha
Oct 05, 2009 Jeni rated it it was amazing
It's so good. Another collection of stories from Burrough's life. It's not one of those things where he has just had a more interesting life than the rest of us (but let's face it-he has); mostly he just sees the humor in life and is able to tell us about it in a way that has you rolling on the floor. And believe me-I was.

He is just so honest. How can you not just drink it in? Being able to laugh at yourself and be vulnerable at the same time . . . it's a thing of beauty.

One of my favorite stori
Benjamin Siess
Aug 04, 2011 Benjamin Siess rated it it was amazing
In "Running With Scissors", I flat out didn't believe Burroughs. I felt that his story was probably 50% true. There is nothing wrong with someone writing a memoir and stretching the truth, but I couldn't shake the feeling that he was flat out lying. Along with his horrifyingly vivid description of his early teen sexual experience with a 30 year old man, I felt like he was trying to hard to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. I enjoyed his style, but I had a hard time respecting him.

In "
Jan 22, 2009 Samantha rated it liked it
Augusten Burroughs and I, in many ways, may have been seperated at birth (disregarding the age difference issue). We both think London is the perfect place and secretly wish were were British. (Why did we seperate anyway? Oh yeah...the freedom thing...) We are both more or less anti-social when it comes to...well, people...we are both totally creeped out by dolls and neither of us like to touch anything outside our homes without disinfecting them first. Most importantly, we worship our pets. (Bu ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
This is not the side-slitting, gasping-for-air, hysterical laugh-crying at the hilarious wrongness of RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. But it's a great palate-cleanser after RUNNING: I grew to love the little dude, and I'm just glad Augusten has lived to tell the tale(s).

This is a collection of brief pieces, mostly featuring the adult Augusten in moments of self-awareness and dot-connecting. His love for his partner and his disgusting bulldogs is touching, but I liked this collection best at its most obse
Rebecca McNutt
As is often the case with most of Burroughs' books, the writing captures detail wonderfully and paints vivid pictures, but it's lost on writing that is neither original nor different. And is all that vulgar language really necessary? I know that most books have the occasional swear word or rude comment, I'm not a prude or anything, but when a book is trying to get by on "f*ck" and "b!tch" in nearly every sentence, it just doesn't work.
Sep 29, 2015 Kimmy rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor
Though this book took a few stories to get into, once you make it through the first two to three chapters it really gets quite funny. I definitely found myself chuckling out loud a couple times. I was expecting this book to be a little darker, perhaps because I remember his other book Running with Scissors having some darker aspects to it, but it's really pretty light for the most part. I don't normally read short stories but I'm glad a read these, Burroughs really has a voice that stands out as ...more
Sunny Shore
Jun 21, 2008 Sunny Shore rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, as I love the humor and honesty in all Augusten Burroughs books. He is pure genius - I've read Running with Scissors and Dry also, which was particularly wonderful. This a book of essays/memoirs from his life and he always presents his info in an interesting way as well as being blunt about his neurosis. All of this makes him a wonderful writer, but he's not for everybody I guess. One of the stories in this book was identical to a situation that I had as a teen -- first day on ...more
Nov 07, 2013 Kit rated it liked it
Some stories in this are a bit more entertaining than others, with certain stories running far too long and getting a bit hard to believe or dramatic, namely the saga of his tooth and some of the bits about his mother. I really liked "Julia's Child" as well as the stories about The Cow. I am not sure if I like him reading the audio or not, as he sometimes has a way of sounding like he is reading aloud to toddlers and I am not sure it really works. I continue to be interested in reading more by h ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Alan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Aficionados of the horrifying yet hilarious confessional
Recommended to Alan by: A random peek inside
All too many people lurch in life from one disaster (often self-inflicted) to the next, but few are able to write about their personal catastrophes as stylishly as Augusten Burroughs. Possible Side Effects brought to my mind the same sort of horrified hand-to-mouth laughter as the confessional intimacies of Jenny Lawson ("The Bloggess") and David Sedaris.

My God, why aren't these in America? Why did we ever split with Britain in the first place?
I began to suffer. I could buy a bag, but I knew wha
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Augusten Burroughs born Christopher Robison, son of poet and writer Margaret Robison and younger brother of John Elder Robison.

Burroughs has no formal education beyond elementary school. A very successful advertising copywriter for over seventeen years, he was also an alcoholic who nearly drank himself to death in 1999. But spurned by a compulsion he did not understand, Burroughs began to write a
More about Augusten Burroughs...

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“Just as I had long suspected, a person didn't really need math for anything anyway. Maybe some people did. Some limited people.” 144 likes
“...I don't think it's any more deceptive than wearing four-inch come-fuck-me pumps when one has no intention of ever fucking anybody.” 103 likes
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