Susan Tunis's Reviews > This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

This Is How by Augusten Burroughs
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Mar 22, 12


Uncle Augie tells it all

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. Each chapter is presented as a “How to,” and they are as follows:

How to Ride an Elevator
How to Feel Like Sh*t
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 handles 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.
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