Augusten Burroughs
#1 New York Times Bestselling Novelist, Memoirist

Augusten Burroughs is the bestselling author of eight books, including the groundbreaking Running with Scissors, a tragicomic memoir of Augusten’s unconventional childhood and his recently-released memoir, Toil and Trouble. Dealing in wildly difficult topics—including depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, and the adolescent Augusten’s sexual relationship with a much older man—Running with Scissors became an astonishing literary phenomenon. It remained at the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list for nearly three consecutive years and was adapted into the 2006 film starring Annette Bening, Joseph Fiennes, Alec Baldwin, Jill Clayburgh, and Gwyneth Paltrow. His follow-up memoir, Dry, which chronicled his experience as an ad executive struggling to overcome alcoholism—while watching his best friend and former lover succumb to AIDS—was also a #1 New York Times bestseller.


An unscripted and electrifying speaker, Augusten has appeared to crowds of hundreds at venues around the world, including Seattle’s Bumbershoot. He has been featured in Vanity Fair, USA Today, New York magazine, and countless other publications, and has been named twice to Entertainment Weekly’s “25 Funniest People in America”. His writing has appeared in Details, the New York Times, Allure, The Guardian (UK), and many others.


Augusten Burroughs was born Christopher Robison, in 1965 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—the son of John G. Robison, the head of the philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts, and the writer Margaret Robison. He left school after the sixth grade and moved to New York City at age 17 to pursue a career in advertising. Augusten spent the next decade and a half in advertising, creating award-winning campaigns for brands including American Express, UPS, and Beck’s Beer. At the age of 34, he wrote his first novel, Sellevision, by working almost non-stop for seven days. The book was released in 2000, followed by Running with Scissors in 2002, Dry in 2003, the essay collections Magical Thinking and Possible Side Effects, as well as a much darker memoir, A Wolf at the Table, about his troubled relationship with his father. Augusten’s most recent books include Lust & Wonder, You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, and This is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t.

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St. Martin’s Press

From the hilarious to the terrifying, Toil & Trouble is a chronicle of one man's journey to understand himself, to reconcile the powers he can wield with things with which he is helpless. For as long as Augusten Burroughs could remember, he knew things he shouldn't have known. He manifested things that shouldn't have come to pass. And he told exactly no one about this, save one person: his mother. His mother reassured him that it was all perfectly normal, that he was descended from a long line of witches, going back to the days of the early American colonies. It was a bond that he and his mother shared - until the day she left him in the care of her psychiatrist to be raised in his family (but that's a whole other story). After that, Augusten was on his own. On his own to navigate the world of this tricky power; on his own to either use or misuse this gift.

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St. Martin’s Press

With Augusten's unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous, Lust and Wonder is a hilariously frank memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for. His story began in Running with Scissors, endured through Dry, and continues with this memoir, the capstone to the life of Augusten Burroughs.

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DryA Memoir

You may not know it, but you've met Augusten Burroughs. You've seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twentysomething guy, nice suit, works in advertising. At the request (well, it wasn't really a request) of his employers, Augusten lands in rehab. But when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click and that's when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life—and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that's as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is true.

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This is HowSurviving What You Think You Can't

If you're fat and fail every diet, if you're thin but can't get thin enough, if you lose your job, if your child dies, if you are diagnosed with cancer, if you always end up with exactly the wrong kind of person, if you always end up alone, if you can't get over the past, if your parents are insane and ruining your life, if you really and truly wish you were dead, if you feel like it's your destiny to be a star, if you believe life has a grudge against you, if you don't want to have sex with your spouse and don't know why, if you feel so ashamed, if you're lost in life, if you have ever wondered, How am I supposed to survive this? This is How.

Take FiveFour Favorite Essays Plus One Never-Been-Seen Essay

A mini collection of true stories that give voice to the thoughts that we all have but dare not mention—stories that shine a flashlight into both dark and hilarious places.

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You Better Not CryStories for Christmas

At eight years old, Augusten Burroughs profoundly misunderstood the meaning of Christmas. Now proving himself once more "a master of making tragedy funny" (The Miami Herald), he shows how the holidays can bring out the worst in us and sometimes, just sometimes, the very best.

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With A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs makes a quantum leap into untapped emotional terrain: the radical pendulum swing between love and hate, the unspeakably terrifying relationship between father and son. Told with scorching honesty and penetrating insight, it is a story for anyone who has ever longed for unconditional love from a parent. Though harrowing and brutal, A Wolf at the Table will ultimately leave you buoyed with the profound joy of simply being alive. It's a memoir of stunning psychological cruelty and the redemptive power of hope.

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From nicotine gum addiction to lesbian personal ads to incontinent dogs, Possible Side Effects mines Burroughs's life in a series of uproariously funny essays. These are stories that are uniquely Augusten, with all the over-the-top hilarity of Running with Scissors, the erudition of Dry, and the breadth of Magical Thinking. A collection that is universal in its appeal and unabashedly intimate, Possible Side Effects continues to explore that which is most personal, mirthful, disturbing, and cherished, with unmatched audacity. A cautionary tale in essay form. Be forewarned -hilarious, troubling, and shocking results might occur.

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Magical ThinkingTrue Stories

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 deranged cleaning lady. The execution of a rodent carried out with military precision and utter horror. Telemarketing revenge. Dating an undertaker and much more. A collection of true stories that are universal in their appeal yet unabashedly intimate and very funny.

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Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock - therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

St. Martin's Press

Welcome to the world of Sellevision, America's premier retail broadcasting network. When Max Andrews, the much loved and handsome (that is, lonely and gay) host of a "Toys for Tots" segment, accidentally exposes himself in front of millions of kids, Sellevision faces its first big scandal. As Max struggles to find a new job, the popular and perky host Peggy Jean Smythe receives sinister emails from a stalker. Then there's Leigh, whose affair with married Sellevision boss Howard Toast is going nowhere until she announces their relationship on air. A blistering satire of our scandal-obsessed world, Sellevision is "an absolute howl . . . wicked fun" (New York Daily News).

Growing Up Screwed Up: My Life as a Reject Geared toward young people in challenging circumstances (kids at risk and their parents), this is Augusten at his most brutally honest. In this powerful, emotional lecture, he speaks to troubled kids in their own language, at their own level, with stories of horror and abuse that will make even the most jaded kid cringe. Augusten will talk about how he crawled out of life's gutter and made something of himself – with no help from any adult in his life. He will discuss the importance of channeling rage into rocket fuel and "pipe dreams" into reality. With raw honesty, he offers real inspiration to kids in crisis.

From the Ashes: A Life Rebuilt Without Drugs or Alcohol In Augusten's New York Times bestselling memoir, Dry, he discussed his alcoholism, recovery, and nearly fatal relapse. Now, the author tells the complete story of his transformation – from a drunk living in a secretly filthy apartment to an internationally recognized author. "The only variable is, I no longer drink." In this profoundly inspiring story, Augusten shows that the "promises" of Alcoholics Anonymous are very true. And that anything is possible, as long as a person has both a dream and the clarity of mind to make that dream come true.

Burroughs & You Join Augusten for a rare, unscripted, unplugged event where you have the chance to ask one of the most famous and successful authors of our day anything at all. Here, there are no rules and there are no boundaries. From the moment the show starts, the audience is involved – you ask and he will answer. Nothing is off-subject. Augusten is at his fiery, funniest best when all the rules are thrown out the window and he's flying the only way he knows how: by the seat of his pants. Sure to be an evening filled with surprises, possibly a few shocks, and enough inspiration to carry you forward for a long time, this is your chance to go one-on-one with one of literature's most unique voices.

Bent: On Not Being Straight Augusten has known he was gay his entire life. And because he was raised without formal education and in a chaotic environment where his sexual orientation was the least of his problems, he was, accidentally, quite comfortable with his sexual orientation. Today he says, "It's like being right-handed. I’m not proud of being gay because I haven't achieved anything. But I wouldn't change my sexual orientation for anything." This fascinating and unique perspective on sexuality will open minds and change them. A firm believer that gay people have the moral, ethical, and legal right to marry, raise children, and be employed in any context they wish, he is a vocal proponent of true equality – the kind that comes as an entitlement of being an American. With a wit that is sometimes shocking and sometimes side-splitting, Augusten makes everybody – gay, straight, bi, transgendered, or somewhere in-between – feel better about themselves and the country they live in. A must for colleges.

Alternative Educational Options for Disenfranchised Teens Living in a chaotic, abusive foster family environment as a child, Augusten was distracted, anxious, and bored at school. At 14, he felt he was ready to attend college and begin his life. The state didn't agree. But Augusten enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, auditing courses for credit and achieved an A and B average. Before the semester was over, he was brought before a judge who was unimpressed and ordered him back to junior high. The school then began a battery of tests and determined his IQ to be near 80. They installed him in a special class for children with Down syndrome and other serious learning disabilities. After reducing the school psychologist to tears, causing her to admit, "I never wanted to be a psychologist, I wanted to be a photographer,” Augusten left formal education forever.

This dissatisfaction seemed to run in the family. Augusten’s older brother, John, dropped out of high school and then built all the pyrotechnic guitars for the Kiss World Dynasty Tour, eventually going on to become one of the most respected audio geniuses in the business. And more recently, his nephew, a D student in high school made national headlines when the FBI descended on his home chemistry lab – resulting in invitations to attend two of the top colleges in the country.

Augusten believes that exceptional people need exceptional teachers. Not every child or young adult fits the academic mold society has created. In this lecture, he will discuss options for giving our children the best education possible. From homeschooling to new, non-traditional schools, Augusten will inspire with stories from his and his family’s struggle, including the transformation he has seen in his nephew since attending college at an early age.

Above all, Augusten believes in the innate intelligence of young people, and he believes they need to take control of their educational destinies. For some kids, it's enough to follow the pack. But for others, the mold must be broken. Join Augusten in this inspiring, enlightening evening – children and teenagers are encouraged to attend.

Gay Teenagers Today: Establishing an Identity Augusten has known he was gay all his life. Given the bizarre circumstances of his upbringing, being gay was hardly even worth noting. So many other unusual events were taking place that being attracted to men was considered perfectly normal and acceptable. What was not was being involved with a man more than 25 years older than he - with the full knowledge and encouragement of his mother.

While being openly gay had no negative consequences, being thrust into a highly inappropriate relationship did. Such contradictory factors highlight the many complex issues gay teenagers face as they try to navigate the most difficult developmental period we all face. Over the years, Augusten has received letters from young gay people struggling to deal with difficult home lives and social situations. While gay teens are more accepted than ever before, the realization and acceptance of being gay is still very troubling and difficult for many. Hear Augusten’s compassionate and hopeful response to gay young people as they forge their path to being well-adjusted, confident adults.

Burroughs sits down with New York Magazine for a personal feature and “Take Two” with James Franco.

The Chicago Tribune interviews Burroughs on love, addiction and comedy.

Read interviews with Burroughs from Vogue, Lambda Literary, NPR, and Big Think.

Check out reviews for Lust and Wonder from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and Shelf Awareness.

Find out more about Augusten Burroughs and follow him on Twitter.

"We are thrilled with the way our centennial celebration turned out. It wildly exceeded our expectations. We had a fantastic turnout, and everything went according to plan. Augusten was absolutely wonderful. We couldn't have asked for more. He graciously posed for dozens of photos, and the audience was completely engaged and entertained. There were many great comments from our guests afterward, and lots of people told me that they took away some very useful information. I am just so pleased about the entire event. I really can't say enough positive things about him. He was awesome, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him. It was an evening I'll never forget."
-Valerie Connors, Atlanta Writers Club

"We’ve received tons of compliments about the event and about Augusten Burroughs himself – how nice and funny and inspirational he is. We have deemed this our most successful Literary Festival to date!"
-Abby Lambert, Durango Public Library

Advance Praise for Toil & Trouble “Enchanting storytelling… The characters, including the foul-mouthed but big-hearted handyman and a former opera diva who may be one note short of an octave, provide laugh-out-loud moments that read like a massively entertaining mash-up of Fixer Upper and Queer Eye. One's belief in witches is beside the point, although Burroughs’ does have an uncanny knack for manifesting desirable outcomes. Rather, it is Burroughs’ unique ability to translate his fears, anxieties, and dreams into something universal that feels a little like, well, magic.”
-Booklist, Starred review

"The magical side of the acclaimed author's colorful life…An amusing foray into the witchy realms of Burroughs' life…"

"Whimsical…Burroughs’s fans will love his comic riffs."
-Publishers Weekly