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Magical Thinking: True Stories

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  57,025 ratings  ·  1,651 reviews
From the #1 bestselling author of Running with Scissors and Dry--a contagiously funny, heartwarming, shocking, twisted, and absolutely magical collection. True stories that give voice to the thoughts we all have but dare not mention. It begins with a Tang Instant Breakfast Drink television commercial when Augusten was seven. Then there is the contest of wills with the dera ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Picador USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  57,025 ratings  ·  1,651 reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Dec 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, gay-lit, populist
Shameless. Unabashed. He just does not care whether you like him or not.

These are what make Augusten Burrough's memoirs very different from what I've read so far. He does not give an eff when he recounts how many Catholic gay priests he had sex with. He tells each sexual encounter like he is telling them to his gay close friend inside an enclosed room. All the details, including the unprintables, are mentioned and their intimate conversations in verbatim.

This is my fifth book by Burroughs. I use
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
A few years ago I read Running with Scissors and found it over-the-top but tolerable. Then I read the sequel (Dry) and thought it was okay. Last year, I read Sellevision and detested it, swearing off Burroughs forever. But then I realized something: Burroughs is not a fiction writer – he’s a memoirist. So I decided to give Magical Thinking a chance because Burroughs was going back to his strength, and because rather than a full-length memoir, Magical Thinking is a series of short snippets of his ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: feculent
Hmmm something happened after I read the Chapter "The Rat Thing". I struggled. A lot. I found myself unable to connect with him anymore. I couldn't laugh anymore because I thought he was just plain cruel most of the time whether it be to animals, children or adults. Now I havent read Running with Scissors or Dry yet but I do understand that he had a very screwed up childhood...but that fact still doesnt make me like the fact that he is so incredibly self-absorbed and mean (even if he does have h ...more
Aug 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
In the past, I have only listed books on Goodreads that I have enjoyed and would recommend. So this is my first negative rating/review. Today, a friend put Magical Thinking in her TO READ pile. I commented that I did not want her to read it because in one of AB's essays, he describes wishing a boss dead (the origination of the title) and incredibly goes on to gleefully reveal that she did die after hoping it would happen. This boss of his was also a Creative Director of mine at a different ad ag ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Augusten Burroughs is an immature jerk that I wouldn’t give the time of day. I found nothing nothing charming about Magical Thinking and while I was reading it all I could think was that he represents the unshaven underarm of society – the type of person who finds everything wrong with the world and the slice of pie he has been delivered but fails to notice the good things like the fact that he is eating pie. Why am I so disgusted by him? This is the type of guy that steps on a child’s hand in a ...more
Alex Duncan
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nice Augusten Burroughs book. My favorite after Dry.
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with a dark sense of humor
I really love this book. Because the stories are short, pretty quick reads, it's great for those times when you want something to read but have a lot of distractions around. That's why I took it to the DMV with me a few weeks ago when I was getting my driver's license renewed. It was a long wait, and the lobby was packed with all kinds of cranky people and their unruly kids. As I read about Burroughs' experiences dating an undertaker, getting blowjobs by priests and dealing with a psychotic hous ...more
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Stirling-Cooper (could give it instead of Ayn Rand cause it's not Ayn Rand)
Recommended to Mariel by: big sis
The government called and said we can't afford David Sedaris anymore. It's the recession, y'know. Guess it's the poorest man's David Sedaris: Augusten Burroughs.

Burroughs would be better if he'd at least admit he's a bitchy gay man instead of trying to tack on "But everybody is okay" drivel messages at the end of his bitchiness. He reminds me of guys I know who make up obviously bullshit stories made more annoying by the obvious fact they expect you are impressed by it (I'm not). Only vaguely a
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a sense of humor I can connect with. I can hear him in my head as I say and think along the same lines in my daily life. It’s brash, to the point and brutal in its delivery but I doubt you’ll laugh out loud. Instead you’ll find yourself on a loop of inner chuckles and head nods as you nod along to his random and mundane life excursions. This as by no means a book “I couldn’t put down” but it was a book I could pick up at random times and enjoy without worrying about plot or characters.
May 19, 2009 rated it liked it
I just recently got out of the shower. No lie. The shower came after I cleaned the shower but, get this, before I took a bubble bath.

Now what sense does that make? Who takes a bath and THEN gives the bathtub a deep scrubbing?

... I've done lots of things in odd orders. I think hot tea in the summer and down gallons of iced tea in the winter. Sometimes I drink Rockstar or Monster or Go Girl™ immediately before going to sleep.

Earlier today, at the grocery store, I went to the frozen section *first*
Jul 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
So Anthony bought me this book last weekend and I finished it in 3 days.

It's a collection of his essays, much like the style of David Sedaris. And just like David Sedaris, only a couple of these essays are "laugh out loud" funny.

The first 5 essays feel like he's just trying to fill space in the book with nonsense "what if" stories that are obviously all taking place in his head. This led me constantly think, "I thought this was a memoir based on things that actually take place." But again, I'm u
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Amusing enough to make me laugh out loud a few times. It doesn't get five stars because Burroughs is amusing but not endearing. And he made a few typos and can't seem to get his facts straight (did he start working in advertising when he was 18 or 19? does he use magical thinking to keep planes aloft or not?). Sooo...four stars. ...more
Courtney Maum
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Obnoxious but compulsively readable. Burroughs is pretty damn funny when he's not being an ass. ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People Looking for a Guilty Pleasure
03/06/2014 RE-READ

I am going to describe each of these stories for you in a Victorian Chapter Title. Because it's fun. :)

1.) Commercial Break. In Which Young Augusten Is Selected to Be In a Tang Commercial, But Discovers He is Horrible At Acting.
2.) Vanderbilt Genes. In Which Young Augusten Discovers What He's Suspected All Along – His Parents Aren't Really His Parents but Instead He Is A Lost Vanderbilt Child, Heir to Millions.
3.) Transfixed by Transsexuals. In Which Augusten Explains His Obses
Apr 28, 2020 added it
❖ [booktube wish fulfillment] ❖ [twitter exsixtwosix] ❖

Maybe I'm burned out on this man's writing? I loved Running With Scissors (when it came out), This Is How, and Dry, but maybe three books are enough for a memoir series? I'm going to put this one down for now.
Victoria Weinstein
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
After enjoying Burrough's bitchy humor for a few chapters, I began to find the stories lacking in any redeeming qualities. They were just mean and bitchy rather than insightful and bitchy. I always appreciate a self-aware narrator, but although Burrough's is admirably self-aware and vulnerable, he is profoundly unhealthy in his thinking and behavior. I haven't read his autobiography, "Running With Scissors," so I can't fill in the background of his frequent references to a terribly abusive upbri ...more
Barbara Nutting
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Never heard of this author although he is very well known in literary circles. Now that I have found him I’m hooked on his horrendous stories. Funny, irreverent, obscene and downright weird. This is a selection of short stories that include Tang, gay affairs and a nod to a pre-President Donald Trump!

I Googled him and that really peaked my curiosity, now I’m on a mission to read more! Picked this book up at my neighborhood Little Library.” Burroughs is very similar to James Frey in A Million Litt
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this collection of essays. I think Augusten Burroughs has a very clear, witty, engaging writing style, and I wish I could write with even a modicum of his humor. There is a great mix of the intimate and emotional and observational and confessional in this book. Burroughs is a thoughtful writer, who is also very honest about his own shortcomings and eccentricities. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, some cringe-worthy sections, and some thought-provoking essays. I’m glad I took th ...more
Mel Salcedo
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved. Evilly witty and charmingly/heartbreakingly truthful, with so many laugh out loud moment. If you are a fan of David Sedaris you MUST read . It’s been years and years since I read Burroughs’ memoir “Running With Scissors”, and I feel the need to now go re read, as well as add his other books to my list.
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A solid collection of humorous stories, with a smattering of heartfelt and touching stories to boot. Burroughs is no David Sedaris, but he is certainly an enjoyable comedic author.
Celine Evren
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I def enjoyed reading these real stories of the writer and got more into the guy people’ world/ their perspective.. very cool very authentic writing style! Loved it
Jaime F.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A very funny book in a neurotic kind of way.
3.5 stars. Augusten Burroughs' life is just a carnival full of roller coasters and funny mirrors that gets better once you get back on line to ride them again.
Aug 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is the book he should have named "Dry," since it's the most boring thing I've ever read.

The only reason why I finished it was because often times when I read essays or short stories, there are one or two stories that make me love the whole collection. Instead, all I found was more and more racism, ableism, sexism, and transphobia that really does not hold up well in the 16 years since this was published.

In the end, the only chapter that had a real conclusion was "The Mystery of Why This Sa
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Philip by: whim
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
I got this book on a whim after reading all it's praise on the front cover. I mean 237 positive critiques from the worlds most reputable sources can't be all wrong, can they?

Besides, I love David Sedaris, and out of the 237 reviews, 235 of them had a fond comparison.

One of the things that gets under my skin is the way he approaches his homosexuality. It defines him. And he comes across as saying, "I don't want to be defined by my homosexuality, but let me tell you about the catholic priests I'v
May 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, audiobook
Like any collection, it has its stronger and weaker elements. My favorites are the kinder, gentler stories; the ones about Dennis, and about getting excellent blowjobs from Catholic priests, and his experiences at the Barbizon modeling school, and the title essay.

Partly I was fascinated by these stories because Burroughs is basically the anti-me. Not just because he's a gay guy and I'm a straight woman, but because he is an alcoholic urban ad agency executive who watches endless TV and, as he sa
Mar 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
I didn't read the whole thing--only to the essay where he writes about how he tortured a rat. I got so mad I tore the pages out of the book then tossed the book into the first trash can I found.

Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you think David Sedaris' stories are funny, then you'll really explode with laughter when you read this collection from Augesten Burroughs. ...more
Sue Smith
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is an interesting book of short stories. Well ..... stories isn't exactly the right word, but I can't really pin which word I should use ....... not stories .. musings, maybe?, no ...not musings ..... um, diary entries? .......... no. ...........not exactly diary entries, but closer I think. Actually - more like written self-therapy journal entries - which is probably the essence of this exercise!!

So how did I feel about this collection of stories you ask? Hmmm. So how di
Jeff Wong
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of short stories and brief narratives that talk about the various issues going on in the author's life. The writing is similar to that of David Sedaris -- not just because both authors are gay men who had challenging childhoods. They also seem to have a similar jaundiced view of how the world works (or often does not work) and write in a frequently funny and hyperbolic fashion about ones own neuroses in idiosyncrasies. I found at least one story, (the one about dealing ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The regular memoirer would embellish stories like a novelist would.

Augusten Burroughs memoirs are embellished like an ad man would embellish something.

He gets into these stories about his life with reckless abandon, completely shedding the idea of poetry or what makes a story good and it's as though he's trying to pick you up at a bar, showing you that he's a human being. While most of his memoirs are pretty cut and dry, Magical Thinking is by far the least flattering of his nostalgia. These sto
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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

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“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” 368 likes
“Unconditional love. That's what this is. I love him, as is, fully. I've had to stop arm wrestling with the facts. Why me? Didn't I already have a big love once? And lost it? So why should I get it again? I've had to stop trying to look for cracks and flaws to prove that it's not as good as it seems. Because it's as good as it seems. Even when we fight, we fight inside the container of good.

Somehow, through a flip of the coin, I ended up here. Feeling like somebody at the top of the heart-lung transplant recipient list. Damaged but invigorated and fucking lucky.”
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