This Is How – Augusten Burroughs Review

Progress on Alternate: 51,023 words

Current Review:

This is how I decide I am willing to read a self-help book.

Because I hate them. I honestly, truly, hate them. With their ‘everything will be okay’ and ‘just breathe’ messages. I hate trite, cutesy methods and drawing tables and reciting mantras. The truth is, I am not always okay. No one is always okay. That’s not how life works. And for some of us, we’re ‘not okay’ quite a lot.

And standing looking in a mirror reciting positive affirmations isn’t going to help us.

I said in my last review that I liked Augusten Burroughs because he was honest. Because he brought out bits of the world that other people can be too afraid to look at. This Is How does the same. With self-help. There aren’t any statements like ‘this will be okay’ or ‘learn how to be your better self’. It’s about dealing, surviving, and just getting the hell over it.

Everyone needs this.

Because This Is How to live your life. And one of the most beautiful things anyone could say to me, personally, right now is right here in this book:

You are allowed to be alive. You are allowed to be somebody different. And you are allowed to not say good-bye or explain a single thing to anyone, ever.

It’s something that’s so easy to forget. You don’t have to justify who you are to other people.

It’s about not feeling afraid. And being able to walk away from a wreck without leaving your mind behind, trapped in it. It’s blunt, brutal and honest. It’s uncomfortable. It’s about not needing other people’s permission to live your life. It’s painful, and descriptive, and sometimes downright frightening. It’s not wishy-washy, or pandering to your needs to make you feel better. It’s telling you if you want something fixed, you get up and fix it. It’s about recognising yourself, and when you’re living in a way that is hurting yourself, and when you should be dragging yourself out of that hole. And for that reason, it has the honour of being, as far as I know, for the last few years, the only self-help book on my bookshelf (recently ousted from that position, but the sentiment stands).

And it is what I consider it: the self-help book for people who can’t stand self-help books.

-K Hart


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