Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: This is How. By Augusten Burroughs

The premise:
Mr. Augusten Burroughs, a man who seemingly has been through quite a bit in his life, gives advice on everything from losing weight, to giving up alcohol for good, to overcoming insurmountable grief.

The good:
Mr. Burroughs has a refreshingly direct, no-nonsense style. He writes with confidence and candor about a variety of subjects, many of which are uncomfortable. But you can also tell that a lot of heart, sincerity and thought went into this book. While he may not be a licensed therapist, he does seem sincere in his desire to help and inspire people to improve their lives, even if his advice may seem counterintuitive at times.

The bad:
It’s hard to tell if the book is intended to be read cover to cover or to be used as a resource to consult as specific needs arise. Regardless, I felt the advice was contradictory in places and a few of the stories came across as somewhat exploitative, even if they weren’t meant to be.

The verdict:
Buy it if you want a rather frank self-help book or a thought-provoking, somewhat entertaining read. If you aren’t the self-help sort, or are but aren’t ready for blunt advice, buy it anyway. Mr. Burroughs is prone to sentimentality, but he also isn’t afraid to cut through the bullshit. If nothing else, you will come away with an appreciation of one of his major themes: living fully, truly and wholly in every moment, no matter how overwhelming, boring or painful.