Book Review: 'This is How' by Augusten Burroughs

A must-read about how to deal with hard-to-face facts

By Amanda Lovell
this is how book image
Photograph: Bryan McCay

NO CHEERY BROMIDES. No bogus affirmations. Augusten Burroughs, who survived childhood trauma in Running with Scissors and life-wrecking addiction in Dry, has written a self-help book that’s shrewd, funny and so full of tough love, it practically reaches out and shakes you by the shoulders. This Is How (St. Martin’s Press) deals in hard-to-face facts (“It is not true that you can do anything you set your mind to”); uncomfortable—but useful—emotions (“novels . . . sculpture, needlepoint, films—all of these forms of art can be fueled on ordinary, everyday, unleaded anger”); and stunningly quick fixes, like this recipe for instant confidence: “Forbid yourself to wonder what ‘they’ are thinking.”

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