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*Winner, the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, 2014* A funny, sad and serious memoir, 'How to Be Happy' is David Burton's story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first 'date' is a disaster. There's the catastrophe of the s *Winner, the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, 2014* A funny, sad and serious memoir, 'How to Be Happy' is David Burton's story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first 'date' is a disaster. There's the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival - David is not sporty - and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of 'Crazy Dave', and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine. And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David. 'How to Be Happy' tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It's a brave and honest account of one young man's search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.


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*Winner, the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, 2014* A funny, sad and serious memoir, 'How to Be Happy' is David Burton's story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first 'date' is a disaster. There's the catastrophe of the s *Winner, the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, 2014* A funny, sad and serious memoir, 'How to Be Happy' is David Burton's story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first 'date' is a disaster. There's the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival - David is not sporty - and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of 'Crazy Dave', and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine. And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David. 'How to Be Happy' tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It's a brave and honest account of one young man's search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.

30 review for How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

    I was sent this book as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 4,5 stars First off, let me start by saying that if this had been fiction instead of a memoir, probably my rating and my feelings towards this would be slightly different. But because the events in this are real, I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge or even comment on the author’s actions and thoughts, especially when he was a teen. I really liked the way this was written. It was v I was sent this book as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 4,5 stars First off, let me start by saying that if this had been fiction instead of a memoir, probably my rating and my feelings towards this would be slightly different. But because the events in this are real, I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge or even comment on the author’s actions and thoughts, especially when he was a teen. I really liked the way this was written. It was very straightforward and easy to read, even when the themes it featured were all but light and easy. I’m not the best person to write a complete list of trigger warnings for this, but I feel like if one’s going to read this, it should be clear that, among other things, self harm and suicidal thoughts/attempts are mentioned in this book. The reason why this is not a full 5 stars for me is that the title might be a bit misleading. I never expected this to be a guide on how to be happy, but I feel like, given the title, the part that actually talked about happiness (or not) should have been slightly longer. Instead, it felt a little bit rushed, but it was certainly informative and it made for a good epilogue and offered valid pieces of advice. Something that could bother someone is the lack of a definite label on the author’s sexuality. I don’t know if he now has found a label he can identify with, but all attempts of labelling himself in the book resulted in actually mislabelling. By the end of the book, he didn’t mention any sexuality-related terms anymore, and I feel like this could be confusing for someone reading this and expecting to find a set definition of the author/character’s sexuality. I understand if that’s how others feel, but as someone who believes that sexuality is (or can be, for some people) fluid, it actually felt refreshing to me to see how one can decide not to stick to any set rule or label if they feel like those don’t apply for them. Keeping everything I said in mind, I’d certain recommend reading this book. It might surprise you just as much as it surprised me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Riley

    How to be Happy by David Burton isn't exactly a how-to on how to enjoy life, more like a series of anecdotes of what not to do in some situations. I devoured it over 2 days. I believe I'm only a few years younger than David and had a pretty similar school experience. Girls cutting themselves, bullying, a passion for drama and a constant barrage of "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?!?!?" were familiar themes. His constant battle with his inner demons, (anxiety, depression, sexuality) is hear How to be Happy by David Burton isn't exactly a how-to on how to enjoy life, more like a series of anecdotes of what not to do in some situations. I devoured it over 2 days. I believe I'm only a few years younger than David and had a pretty similar school experience. Girls cutting themselves, bullying, a passion for drama and a constant barrage of "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?!?!?" were familiar themes. His constant battle with his inner demons, (anxiety, depression, sexuality) is heart breaking to read. Maybe not everyone had the same issues and troubles growing up, but many of David's problems were things I also encountered and similar to him, I was concerned that people would hate me forever so rarely spoke about them (I still try not to talk about it to be honest). I think this is an important book for young people to read, to learn its okay if you are a little sexually confused. To learn you are not alone in your depression or anxiety and that being happy isn't a cookie-cutter thing that you can conform to.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scarlet Cameo

    This wasn't for me, I can relate to some parts and A LOT with the people who meet, but I thinki that for the same reason that's no appealing to me just as anecdotes. Is not a bad book, or a bad memory, at all. Is just that wasn't in the stuff I enjoy. This wasn't for me, I can relate to some parts and A LOT with the people who meet, but I thinki that for the same reason that's no appealing to me just as anecdotes. Is not a bad book, or a bad memory, at all. Is just that wasn't in the stuff I enjoy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This wasabook I'd bought for my library because it got great reviews, then saw that it was one of 'those' books we weren't recommended to have at school because it mentions suicide. So I shoved it on a shelf in my office to read and finally, I have. What a great book - teenage confusion at it's best! Funny, sad, and totally honest about how tough it is to be a teen and how everyone seems to have it together except yourself. Fortunately David finds out that no one feels normal, and more important This wasabook I'd bought for my library because it got great reviews, then saw that it was one of 'those' books we weren't recommended to have at school because it mentions suicide. So I shoved it on a shelf in my office to read and finally, I have. What a great book - teenage confusion at it's best! Funny, sad, and totally honest about how tough it is to be a teen and how everyone seems to have it together except yourself. Fortunately David finds out that no one feels normal, and more importantly, that there is no normal. There is just finding yourself and learning to like who you are. Such hope and such a great ending- I am sure this will be important to so many young people. There is so much to live for. It's going on the shelves in the library on Monday.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chiara

    A copy of this novel was provided by Text Publishing for review. How do you review a book when the “main character” is an actual person … without sounding like an asshole? Well, I’m going to try. I’m just going to come out and say that I didn’t really like Dave. Firstly, I didn’t like the way he treated Ray – buying into the all too common high school trope of hating on anyone who is different, and throwing insults at them along the lines of “freak”. Dave was Ray’s one friend, and he completely di A copy of this novel was provided by Text Publishing for review. How do you review a book when the “main character” is an actual person … without sounding like an asshole? Well, I’m going to try. I’m just going to come out and say that I didn’t really like Dave. Firstly, I didn’t like the way he treated Ray – buying into the all too common high school trope of hating on anyone who is different, and throwing insults at them along the lines of “freak”. Dave was Ray’s one friend, and he completely ditched him to climb the social ladder. My view of him went extremely downhill after that. I also thought the way he referred to Ray as ‘darling Ray’ was really condescending and patronising, and altogether unnecessary. As much as the book was written about Dave himself, I wasn’t particularly sold on a few parts. Even though his family was mentioned quite a bit, especially his little brothers, there wasn’t really any mention of what his home life was like most of the time. Did he help around the house? Did he help out with his brothers? What was his home life really like? And even though this is non-fiction, I still find it incredibly hard to believe that Dave was getting mostly As without studying. I have never met one person in my entire life with that uncanny ability, and I just straight up did not believe it. It’s really freaking hard to do well academically. Another aspect I was wary of was the talk about Dave’s sexuality. He wanted to date girls (and only dated girls), but also fantasised about guys. At one point, he became an advocate for gay rights, because he thought he was gay. The word ‘bisexual’ is used, in the way that Dave explains that the possibility of being bi never occurred to him. But then this isn’t elaborated on whatsoever. When, exactly, did he realise he was bisexual? Did he ever realise, or was he simply fantasising about guys without ever wanting to pursue it (which did actually happen at one point)? I thought that leaving this aspect out was pretty detrimental, to be honest, because I feel like a lot of this book was supposed to be helpful, and this just really lacked any kind of closure. I did quite like the writing style, though. It was pretty immersive and engaging, which I appreciated. There were some humorous passages throughout, and the tone was overall very conversational. To be honest, I simply wasn’t a huge fan of How to Be Happy, which is a shame because I had been really looking forward to reading it. I hope I don’t sound like an asshole for actually not liking a real person’s actions, but I tried my very best. © 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Braiden

    This book is a memoir. It reads unlike a memoir. When people say we read to find ourselves (in fictional characters and universes), I can say I've found a real somebody to relate to, who has actually experienced what I have experienced, who makes me realise now that I am most definitely not the only one with particular thoughts due to particular teenage situations. David Burton's memoir is ultimately a story about identity and relationships, and the internal struggles we experience when those two This book is a memoir. It reads unlike a memoir. When people say we read to find ourselves (in fictional characters and universes), I can say I've found a real somebody to relate to, who has actually experienced what I have experienced, who makes me realise now that I am most definitely not the only one with particular thoughts due to particular teenage situations. David Burton's memoir is ultimately a story about identity and relationships, and the internal struggles we experience when those two variables – which we try to ground during our teenage years to fit in and find our place – change. Burton lets teens know that although these years may be difficult or stressful, if they just give themselves room to grow and be open to new experiences they will eventually come out of it happier and optimistic. If various things become unclear or become a massive clusterf**k, that the 'things' will align at unsuspecting times. We all deserve to be happy. And David Burton proves that. How To Be Happy is truly a marvellous memoir for teens. It's not about a celebrity. It's not about a YouTube star. And that's what made it truly unique.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    It's pub date at last for the 2014 Text Prize winner! Cheers and hurrah to David Burton, who knows a thing or two about growing up. And the early reviews are in: ‘[Burton] delivers some devastating truth bombs. Sexuality is hard. Identity is hard. Love is hard. School is hard…This book shines a much-needed light back through the tunnel. It is a call-out to teenagers still struggling to find their way. How to Be Happy says "here’s the path I took, hope it helps".’ Books & Publishing It's pub date at last for the 2014 Text Prize winner! Cheers and hurrah to David Burton, who knows a thing or two about growing up. And the early reviews are in: ‘[Burton] delivers some devastating truth bombs. Sexuality is hard. Identity is hard. Love is hard. School is hard…This book shines a much-needed light back through the tunnel. It is a call-out to teenagers still struggling to find their way. How to Be Happy says "here’s the path I took, hope it helps".’ Books & Publishing

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jayne Downes

    An amusing and at times sad account of the author's life from the start of his teenage years to adulthood. David Burton had lots to deal with like bullying, depressed parents, two younger brothers with Aspergers, sexuality issues so it is no wonder he suffered from depression himself. He coped by becoming "crazy Dave the drama nerd." I think this book could help teenagers who are going through similar issues and it will increase readers empathy towards others. David Burton is now a playwright in An amusing and at times sad account of the author's life from the start of his teenage years to adulthood. David Burton had lots to deal with like bullying, depressed parents, two younger brothers with Aspergers, sexuality issues so it is no wonder he suffered from depression himself. He coped by becoming "crazy Dave the drama nerd." I think this book could help teenagers who are going through similar issues and it will increase readers empathy towards others. David Burton is now a playwright in Australia.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ALPHAreader

    'How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion’ is Australian author David Burton’s debut. I read this book ages ago and then didn’t know what to do about how much I loved it. Writing a review was hard, and the words I tried to put down didn’t adequately express how much I loved the book. And then I went to Brisbane Writers Festival, and attended an ‘in conversation’ between David and fellow memoirist, Robert Hoge that just blew me away for how candid and funny he was – that reite 'How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion’ is Australian author David Burton’s debut. I read this book ages ago and then didn’t know what to do about how much I loved it. Writing a review was hard, and the words I tried to put down didn’t adequately express how much I loved the book. And then I went to Brisbane Writers Festival, and attended an ‘in conversation’ between David and fellow memoirist, Robert Hoge that just blew me away for how candid and funny he was – that reiterated for me just how special ‘How to be Happy’ truly is … and still, I struggled. So just know that this review will probably end up expressing only a miniscule fraction of my admiration for David and this book of his, which won the 2014 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Sorry – I tried, but this really is one of those books and authors that I’m just going to end up telling you to read and attend any of his appearances because there’s something special here that you’ve just got to discover for yourself. Anywho. The book opens thus; I don’t know how to be happy. Yeah, sorry. Awkward. Okay, let me rephrase. I don’t know how to make you happy. But I have a pretty good idea what would help. Trouble is, my tops sound fairly lame. It’s like when you ask someone about the secret to losing weight and then answer ‘eat well and exercise’. True, but profoundly unhelpful. And right there is how I got totally onboard with this brutally honest and funny memoir – because David’s “endgame” as a memoirist is really to just put the ugly truth down on paper. To put into a book all the things he went through – two brothers with Aspergers, bullied at school, worried about a self-harming friend, his own spirals into depression and anxiety not to mention all the teenager years of sexual confusion and hormonal whirlpools. At one point David remembers his dad giving him a copy of John Marsden’s ‘Secret Men’s Business’, a 1998 non-fiction book for teen boys that touched on everything from leadership responsibilities to masturbation (a revelation for young David Burton at the time – hilariously). But what he especially remembers about this book crossing his path was just his astonishment at somebody writing these things down and sharing them – being candid with teenagers about such topics (remember, Burton is a Millennial and his childhood was a pre-Internet one!). That’s what ‘How to be Happy’ does too – through the “character” of David he explores his own fumbles and foibles in such a charming and self-deprecating way that it’s quite disarming for a reader, but then the moment comes when you do realise that these things being discussed are still somewhat taboo in society (particularly honest discussions around mental health) and there is real bravery in David putting them on the page, sharing his story, stripping himself bare. One aspect in particular is his sexuality. A socially awkward teen who didn’t fit into society’s “machismo” stereotype of a sport-loving, rough-tumbling manly man, David discovered his voice through the self-expression of drama class … and then struggled with what it meant that he was drawn to inherently “feminine” pursuits and activities. He assumed he was gay (a common epithet shouted at him by school bullies too) – and this becomes a fascinating time for current self-reflection, as he does address the narrow gender definitions, which so confused his teenage self (and that still permeate in society today). But David’s lusting after several female classmates does eventually clue him into the fact that he is heterosexual, but now equipped with a unique and accepting view of sexuality and gender fluidity. The other big focus of the book, which is retold so tenderly, is David’s mental health, and that of his family – for his brothers’ unique Asperger view of the world, as well as his family’s history of depression. This is where David reminded me of the late, great YA author Ned Vizzini – who wrote with such biting honesty about depression in his characters (drawn on his own experiences). In ‘It's Kind of a Funny Story’ for instance, which began with the eerily accurate line “Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.” David has similarly in-your-face honesty when writing about his depression and anxiety, that I found to be both moving and vital. I also loved the tender heart of the book, a celebration of the friendships formed and trials overcome – and also for the little things that actually become importantly intrinsic to who you grow up to be. That is, I loved David paying tribute to what he grew up loving – an acknowledgment of the stories, fandom’s and connections he made that have had lasting influence on him (particularly considering he’s had a career in theatre!). Mary and I discovered Harry Potter together, which, in terms of major life events, is almost as important as YOUR ACTUAL BIRTH. Lunchtimes regularly involved rushing to the library to pore over the latest instalment in Harry’s adventures and attempting to make predictions about upcoming books. We would also discuss Star Wars, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Discworld and Doctor Who at length. We were nerd soulmates. There are few reasons I would ever wish to be a teenager again, but I could be persuaded if it meant rediscovering all of these stories again for the first time and finding my unabashed passion for them. And finally – I can’t stress this enough – ‘How to be Happy’ is funny. Bitingly, embarrassingly, genuinely – FUNNY. This sort of humour surely only comes when we’re forced to reflect on our teenage selves and suddenly see the joke that was so hard to laugh at, at the time of adolescence. This book is gold, and if I could I’d make it mandatory reading in schools … or, maybe, not in schools but mandatory under-the-covers with a torchlight, late into the night reading for all those teenagers wondering why they feel this way, when will it get better and does anybody understand me? For those teenagers I’d like to gift them ‘How to be Happy’ – because David won’t claim to have all the answers, but he’s been through the trenches and written about it in all his embarrassing teenage glory.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sky

    I think this may be the first memoir that I haven't liked. You can read my review here - https://skysreadingcorner.wordpress.c... I think this may be the first memoir that I haven't liked. You can read my review here - https://skysreadingcorner.wordpress.c...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lia

    2.5 stars This book should be called How To Be Unhappy! How To Be Happy by David Burton is a memoir about his life as a teenager, which includes depression, anxiety, sexual orientation confusion and much more. I have received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Again a book with very mixed feelings. I started reading this book, not realizing it was a memoir (yeah I know it’s on the cover, blurb and title…) so it was very confusing for me. But when I realized it was really the 2.5 stars This book should be called How To Be Unhappy! How To Be Happy by David Burton is a memoir about his life as a teenager, which includes depression, anxiety, sexual orientation confusion and much more. I have received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Again a book with very mixed feelings. I started reading this book, not realizing it was a memoir (yeah I know it’s on the cover, blurb and title…) so it was very confusing for me. But when I realized it was really the life story of the writer, it made me feel really sad and depressed (I’ll get to why later). I feel a bit bad about criticizing the story or the characters because they are real people and real things that happened, so I will try to focus on other things in this review. The story is about David (of course), who is a teenager with parents who have dealt with depression and two brothers with Aspergers. We follow Dave as he grows up, goes to high school, gets his first girlfriend, explores his sexuality, goes to university and so on. We follow him until the “now”, in which he is about 27 years old. During that time a lot changes in his life, in good and bad ways. But usually bad. To be honest, I really didn’t like Dave (sorry). He was kind of weird, very messed up and was pretending to be something he was not. He put a mask on his face to hide who he really was. Very often in the book he is pretending to be “Crazy Drama Dave” or “Gay Dave” etc, and all the time I just wanted to yell at him that he just needed to be Dave, nothing more. Dave is probably a great person, you don’t have to pretend! He also, at the age of 13 and later, really interested in sex. Which seemed really odd to me, but maybe that’s just because I’m so different from him. I couldn’t connect to Dave at all. "It was like a secret pact had been made by society, in someplace far away, that said, ‘This is what beautiful men look like, and this is how men behave.’ And because of this, I had always felt like I wasn’t beautiful, and I wasn’t behaving as a real man should." Dave deals with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, sexuality, loneliness, heartbreaks, and more teenage angst. These topics are all so important, but it made me feel so bad. Especially when he was talking about other people who cut themselves. I just wanted to step into the book and hug those people. I couldn’t stand them feeling this way and realizing that it all happened for real, didn’t make it much better. "Sometimes, unhappiness is near impossible to avoid. Bad things happen. And it’s important to be sad. It doesn’t make you weak." This book isn’t a happy story of overcoming depression, it is bad, it is horrible and it is sad. Sometimes after rain, the sun doesn’t shine. I really admire David Burton, because he wrote a book about his life and it is so honest. The writing style is simple, effective but not really outstanding. However it felt like it was David talking to you, and therefore not really as a fictional book, which has his pros and his cons. I am giving this book ★★☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars), and I have a hard time deciding on this rating. The book was brutally honest, but also depressing. I didn’t really like any of the characters a lot, but on the other hand the topics discussed are really important. I have learned a lot about a lot of this while reading this book, and if you are interested in reading a story from someone who has gone through all these things, I would definitely recommend this book. If you are dealing with any of these issues (depression, etc), please get help or talk to someone, even if it is a stranger on the internet. You can always contact me. Don’t give up the fight, life will get better. This review first appeared on: https://imaginaryplacesonpaper.wordpr...

  12. 4 out of 5

    June

    David Burton is an award winning playwright and theatre director from Brisbane. I heard him talk at a professional development session in November and he was really engaging, very funny and very honest and this is the way that he writes as well. Burton is startlingly honest and open about his parent's battles with depression, about his twin brothers having Autism and Asperger's syndrome and how he felt about these things as a child, as a teenager and as a young man. He also describes his own lif David Burton is an award winning playwright and theatre director from Brisbane. I heard him talk at a professional development session in November and he was really engaging, very funny and very honest and this is the way that he writes as well. Burton is startlingly honest and open about his parent's battles with depression, about his twin brothers having Autism and Asperger's syndrome and how he felt about these things as a child, as a teenager and as a young man. He also describes his own life long battle with depression and describes how avoiding seeking help for a long time only made things worse for him. I highly recommend this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    I found this book interesting to read in that it is a memoir, and although I didn't feel as though I connected with Dave, I enjoyed the story and found it to be honest and authentic, throwing together humour with stories of self-loathing and anxiety/depression, all mixed in with a good dose of sexuality confusion. Easy to read and a good, satisfying ending. I found this book interesting to read in that it is a memoir, and although I didn't feel as though I connected with Dave, I enjoyed the story and found it to be honest and authentic, throwing together humour with stories of self-loathing and anxiety/depression, all mixed in with a good dose of sexuality confusion. Easy to read and a good, satisfying ending.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elly (imaginemorebooks)

    *** I received an ARC of this book from Text Publishing Company and NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. However, this does not influence my opinions in any way.*** It took me an embarrassingly long time to finish this book. I boil that down to one thing: despite being titled How to be Happy, this book is honestly one of the most depressing stories I've ever read. And the fact that it is actually a memoir made it even more difficult to read. Quite honestly, if I didn't know it was a memoir *** I received an ARC of this book from Text Publishing Company and NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. However, this does not influence my opinions in any way.*** It took me an embarrassingly long time to finish this book. I boil that down to one thing: despite being titled How to be Happy, this book is honestly one of the most depressing stories I've ever read. And the fact that it is actually a memoir made it even more difficult to read. Quite honestly, if I didn't know it was a memoir I probably would have had a very different reaction to the book. If it had been written like a fiction based in reality, I have a feeling it would have been easier to get through. Instead, I have just been carrying around the weight of Burton's story in the back of my mind for months. That being said, if you are at one of the lowest moments in your life, I would not recommend this book. Give life time to level out a bit and revisit the idea of this book when you are in a better head space. If it doesn't send you spiraling into depression, at the very least it might help you in knowing that you aren't alone. Growing up is a struggle in far more ways than one. This memoir highlights only a few of the way things could go wrong. Things get blown out of proportion and eventually you are stuck having to believe your own lies and carry on in the world you've built for yourself even though those terms or interests aren't what you identify with anymore. I think one of the main themes of this book is that life and people are fluid. You can never just be happy because without sadness and depression how can you ever know what happiness feels like? Additionally, much how your emotions change day to day or even situation by situation, so does your personality. You aren't the same person you are five years ago, or even five minutes ago for that matter. Humans are constantly evolving so there is no point in beating yourself up over not fitting the mold you boldly proclaimed you fit into when you were young. People grow with new experiences, and that's okay. In the end, this isn't a light book. It is deep and dark and overly depressing. No, I wouldn't recommend it for casual reading. However, if you feel like you are the only one struggling or like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, maybe give this book a read. It won't provide you with answers on how to be the happy and likable person you always dreamed of being, but at the very least it is a well written example proving that you aren't the only one feeling low or going through rough times in your life.

  15. 4 out of 5

    AmandaEmma

    *Book received for review from Netgalley* I loved the introduction from David Burton and it definitely piqued my interest and kept me reading. It quickly turned into the memoir that the cover suggests but it was not necessarily interwoven with 'tips' on how to be happy. Like Robert Webb's "How Not to be a Boy" I'd expected him to go from micro to macro and evaluate or comment on how to be happy like Webb commented on gender politics, but that didn't really happen. I had no prior knowledge of Burt *Book received for review from Netgalley* I loved the introduction from David Burton and it definitely piqued my interest and kept me reading. It quickly turned into the memoir that the cover suggests but it was not necessarily interwoven with 'tips' on how to be happy. Like Robert Webb's "How Not to be a Boy" I'd expected him to go from micro to macro and evaluate or comment on how to be happy like Webb commented on gender politics, but that didn't really happen. I had no prior knowledge of Burton and I definitely feel like I know him now as I obviously just read his memoir of his teenage years. I enjoyed it to a certain extent I just don't think the title fits, otherwise it was fine. My favorite part was definitely the introduction and David exploring his sexuality; coming out as gay but still struggling with being attracted to women and how he deals with it. Trigger warnings for suicide, suicidal thoughts. Buzzwords: diversity, exploring sexuality, coming of age

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    How to be Happy, written by David Burton, is a book about depression and how it almost took his life. David was born and raised in Queensland, Australia. At home, he had twin brothers that were both diagnosed with Aspergers, and two struggling parents. He himself, at the age of seven, was diagnosed with stress, which later led to depression and anxiety. His memoir, How to be Happy, is a book that anyone going through a rough time should read. It is a meaningful book filled with various situation How to be Happy, written by David Burton, is a book about depression and how it almost took his life. David was born and raised in Queensland, Australia. At home, he had twin brothers that were both diagnosed with Aspergers, and two struggling parents. He himself, at the age of seven, was diagnosed with stress, which later led to depression and anxiety. His memoir, How to be Happy, is a book that anyone going through a rough time should read. It is a meaningful book filled with various situations in which everyone can find something to relate to. Depression and anxiety are problems that many people in today’s society face, and this book shows you that it is possible to live with it by communicating and knowing that you are not alone. Overall, How to be Happy is about David’s struggle with depression, and how he uses different personas in order to hide how he really feels. The book starts off with David giving the definition of depression, and what people or doctors tell you to do in order to help subdue it. He says the same things that your typical guidance counselor tells high schoolers during suicide prevention week. He lists the main things that research tends to point towards helping happiness like, “Sunlight, going outdoors, exercise, a healthy social life, and eating well.” (Burton 12). But he points out that not everything is so simple. He then goes on to tell us about his early childhood, about his twin brothers with Asperger, and his stressed parents. It was because of these two things that David first started to think that hiding his feelings would help his family, and not add unnecessary trouble for them. I feel like a lot of kids these days also hide their feelings, trying not to put more stress onto their parents. Afterwards, David goes on to talk about his first year of high school, and says “somehow stumbled out of a primary school, a world I understood and knew, into a place rich with stereotypes” (Burton 35). There he met his first friend, Ray, a nerd that was also diagnosed with Aspergers. But as the school year continued David was often bullied and was unable to make any new friends. All the while not telling his parents about what was happening, constantly thinking “Why couldn’t I just toughen up?” But eventually he finally reached a breaking point, and cried to his mother about his problems. After that, his mother called the school, and David was introduced to something that would change his life forever: Drama Club. At that time David was introduced to new friends, Simon and Mary. As well as acting, something that he immediately connected with. In Drama club he was able to create different personas of himself, all while taking on the mindset of “Just don’t be yourself. Be someone else. You’ve got to put on a show for people. That’s the only way to survive” (Burton 67). So during his high school years he took the personas of people that he wasn’t, and eventually became known as Crazy Dave. However, doing so just confused David more about who he really was. David started having more and more problems with his relationships and sexuality. For example, both of the girls David every got close to ended up cutting themselves over him. Unfortunately, at that time, he had no idea what to do when faced with these types of situations. So he did what most kids would do when faced with a problem they don’t know how to solve, he told an adult. Personally, if I was in the same mindset as David I would have probably done the same thing. However, it did not go at all the way he expected, and both of the girls he care for, as friends, moved to different schools. After that David dug deeper into the idea of keeping things to himself and hiding his emotions form everyone. Also, David stated to think that he might be gay, and that added even more stress and uncertainty to his life. But one day, a month before senior year ended, David finally snapped. Unable to get out of bed and go to school, he knew it was time to once again try and seek medical help. Even with his doctors and parents telling him it’s ok to be unhappy, David was never able to process what that really meant. Eventually he reached a point of “going to see a psychologist or a doctor as a personal failure” (Burton 203), and so David continued on with being some else on the outside, while suffering on the inside. Finally the time to go to college came around, and David picked the one subject he was truly passionate about: theater studies. There he was introduced to new friends, and with it a new persona to take on. So eventually David become known as Gay Dave, but he didn’t mind because college was like “the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of sexual confusion” (Burton 268). During his time in collage, David continues to write about his sexual experimentations, while trying to figure out who he is. Later, he decides to more in with a good friend of his, Amber, and was glad that he had found the “positive female friendship” that he’d always wanted. But it’s not long before David once again starts questioning his sexuality, and whether he was really gay. Later finding himself longing for another girl, Dani, he is throw into feelings that he does not know how to deal with. However, he feels as though he has to be with her, and so they decide to date. They have their ups and down, and David does all he can to make her happy, including buying a van and traveling the country. However, their dream is short lived as the van they bought with both their savings breaks down, and the two become homeless. The two crash at friends’ homes and eventually make their way to renting a room in their old professors’ house. There David continues to do everything he can for Dani, but it isn’t enough and she decides to end the relationship. This is where the story really takes a dark turn. After the break up David’s depression skyrockets, and he constantly contemplates suicide. He thinks that no one is there for him, and that he is all alone. So the day came where he decided to finally end it all. David had decided to gas himself in his car in an open meadow, where it was peaceful and wouldn’t be a bother to anyone else. Yet, right as he was about to kill himself he found a card in the back seat of his car, it was to his old psychologist. He thought that at the very least he would give him a call, because how can it get any worse? David goes to see the psychologist, and with his help he is finally able to start understand that it’s ok to be unhappy. Also, to not bottle up all of his emotions, and that it is better to tell people about your problems then to always hide it from them. So David took his phycologists advice and told his close friends and family. To his surprise their reactions were not anything like what he expected, everyone around him understood and supported him. Afterwards, David felt a heavy weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. He finally found peace, and decided to start fresh with his life. After living with his parents again for a while to relax, David moved into his own apartment and started working as a professor for theater studies, which is what he continues to do today. Overall, David did a terrific job of explaining how depression affected his life. He also points out several times throughout his book that even though you may think you’re alone, you’re not. But that’s not all, he also adds random words of advice whenever there is a major event. This is an aspect that I personally appreciate, and feel as though it adds connection between the reader and the author. Although, the one thing that I didn’t like about this memoir is that fact that through the book David would tell events that happened it the past. So essentially he’d jump back in time periodically, and it can be hard to keep up with which time period he is in. Other than that I thought that his memoir was a really good read. David’s story is a good example of how depression can take over one’s life; however, it’s important to know that you are never alone, and that communicating your feeling really helps release emotional pressure.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I don't want to write this review. I don't want to write this review because it means owning up to the fact that I really like biographical stories (Is there a job for people who like to listen and know others?). Because it means that I have to leave the comfort and security of my own bed to get to my laptop; because it means understanding myself. When I picked this book up off the shelf, aside from being drawn by the "signed copy" sticker on the front, I knew from the title that it would be some I don't want to write this review. I don't want to write this review because it means owning up to the fact that I really like biographical stories (Is there a job for people who like to listen and know others?). Because it means that I have to leave the comfort and security of my own bed to get to my laptop; because it means understanding myself. When I picked this book up off the shelf, aside from being drawn by the "signed copy" sticker on the front, I knew from the title that it would be something, and the blue and yellow colours drew me in like they were screaming about my own life. Sometimes you just know. Immediately upon reading I was drawn into this book, the quick wit and somewhat cynical approach speaks back to my own personality and sense of dry humour. That was what kept me reading. But the way it was written, god that helped too, with sadness in single lines like "I didn't visit again." You can feel that this is a story of change, of growth, of coping and honestly it was just. I can't really put a word on it because it feels like putting a word on my own life, and nobody's suffering is beautiful. The intense familiarity with the situations I feel to David, is overwhelming. As a nearly 20 year old from Victoria, I don't have the same experiences, but I feel like I shared in this story as well. It brought back memories of my own days, fourteen and struggling with the self harm of others, struggling to deal with the fact that "it's not your responsibility to save [them]" as I keep my own head up above water. It draws me into my own state of sexual confusion, of my own mental health, and although most of me really doesn't want to leave the comfort of my room. This book tugs at you, to take a look at your life, and own up to the feelings. I myself, had the same kind of psychologist, who simply said that I wasn't depressed, I received high marks all through high school and finished with the second highest mark in my year level, and I was still able to laugh and smile sometimes. Apparently that gives someone no right to be depressed, only that they should take a holiday to "create identity" and "all people your age feel like this." Maybe one day I am going to be able to take David's experience into my own life and talk to someone again, or maybe I'll stay in my room and pretend to sleep the feelings off. David Burton has written a beautiful, funny memoir of his life that had me laughing and crying. I have no doubt that it may help other youths in their own self discovery, or even in just knowing they're not alone. I only hope that it has also helped him to learn to become happy, himself. A wonderful read, a difficult review. Review Two I grabbed this back off my shelf the other night because I was feeling low and honestly nothing warms my soul like hearing about other people's lives, how they overcome things and what they go through. So yeah, once again 5 stars and a beautiful read. Looooove it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    TimInCalifornia

    How to Be Happy lets us into the life of the author from his first years as a teen-ager through his first few years after college. Though this is a memoir, it is in no way a pedantic coming-of-age story. Burton is not much out of his twenties as he pens this tale looking back on his early life and he, rightly, figures he has some practical life tips for young adults and some insights into the experiences and reasoning of people coming of age in this millennium. Burton was raised in a suburban, m How to Be Happy lets us into the life of the author from his first years as a teen-ager through his first few years after college. Though this is a memoir, it is in no way a pedantic coming-of-age story. Burton is not much out of his twenties as he pens this tale looking back on his early life and he, rightly, figures he has some practical life tips for young adults and some insights into the experiences and reasoning of people coming of age in this millennium. Burton was raised in a suburban, middle-class, possibly upper middle class, household. His parents are loving and concerned and seek to position their children with an educational experience where they each grow and thrive. In other words, Burton’s family is like millions of other families in first world countries. Every family has their challenges and Burton’s family includes younger brothers (twins) with pronounced Asperger’s Syndrome and both parents who battle depression from time to time. I feel like many memoirs are written because there is a heroic person central to the story who overcomes a BIG TRAUMA or is harboring a BIG SECRET. That’s not exactly the case with Burton. His life is not exceptional but in telling his story, Burton shows how special we each are, each of our unique life experiences. Burton’s conflicted feelings about himself, about where he fits in to the social structure at school and with friends, brought many of my own feelings about life in high school rushing back. Burton talks frankly about his confusion over sexuality and sex, the struggle for friendship, desire for romantic connection and expression, and the meaningful adults who come in to his life. I could identify with Burton in many ways and also saw myself reflected in some of his friends as he witnesses their own struggles and successes as they mature into their twenties. While there was certainly a parallel with our joint dilemmas around sexual orientation and establishing relationships with men and women, the overriding memory that was brought home was the relentless worry that was just beneath the surface of every day and every experience. Whether happy, sad, or indifferent on the surface, that inner voice saying you’re not good enough, smart enough, normal enough persists, persists, persists. No amount of great parenting or good schools can quiet it, only the process of growing up, maturing and accepting oneself can bring the revelation of How to Be Happy. I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    Brave memoir with positive messages. It's difficult reading because there's a lot of unhappy. But Burton is trying to show how important it is to recognise and appreciate the happy. So brave. More detailed review to come at Reading Time. Brave memoir with positive messages. It's difficult reading because there's a lot of unhappy. But Burton is trying to show how important it is to recognise and appreciate the happy. So brave. More detailed review to come at Reading Time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    This is a novel that every single young person needs to read. It takes a brutally honest look at what it means for many young people to exist in society today, and tackles some particularly difficult issues such as sexuality, anxiety, and depression.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Halena

    Raw and thought provoking on many different levels. A memoir for high school students, teachers and parents that reminds us what a difficult time high school can be for some students and how our actions/reactions can impact others without us realizing it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Tupper

    I'm not usually one for memoirs but I really enjoyed this novel. It was in turns funny, serious and poignant, and the writing was honest. It was real. Well worth a read. I'm not usually one for memoirs but I really enjoyed this novel. It was in turns funny, serious and poignant, and the writing was honest. It was real. Well worth a read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roxie Maree

    I'm not crying, you're crying. I'm not crying, you're crying.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Goreting

    ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I think that the first thing I should mention in this review is that, being the first memoir I've read, this book was quite different from what I'm used to. Since the events and characters were real, I can't say much about the way the plot unravels or the choices made by the people portrayed. I can, however, share my opinion on the way it was told to us, the readers. First of all, the register in this story is a very conversational one. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I think that the first thing I should mention in this review is that, being the first memoir I've read, this book was quite different from what I'm used to. Since the events and characters were real, I can't say much about the way the plot unravels or the choices made by the people portrayed. I can, however, share my opinion on the way it was told to us, the readers. First of all, the register in this story is a very conversational one. You feel as though you're sitting across from the author while he's telling you his life story. At the beginning, I enjoyed this casual tone, but around the middle of the book, it felt very fake and for some reason very uncomfortable too. I'm sure this was not only because of the tone, but also because of the content, but I'll get to that in a minute. This book deals with very heavy subjects, among them hereditary depression, stigma surrounding psychological help, self harm, sexuality, and suicide. It sheds some light into the thoughts and feelings that go through a depressed and anxious person, in this case a man, which is an idea that society just seems to ignore. (Yes, men can be mentally ill too. It's not 'girly' or 'weak', it's literally a medical condition.) The main character also comment on how society's beauty standards and the toxic masculinity of porn are the cause of some of his problems, as is the lack of representation of himself in the world. Overall, I think this book gave a true testament to how it feels like to live with mental illness. Notwithstanding, the main character/the author, did a lot of things that weren't to my liking. As I've stated, I don't exactly feel like I have the right to comment on someone's personal choices, but taking in consideration that David decided to put his life on the page for the whole world to see, I guess I can make a few comments. The actions of teenage Dave, as wrong as they might seem, could potentially be forgiven or disregarded as teenage mistakes, depending on your level of tolerance for intolerance. These mistakes include: him bullying someone even when he was bullied himself, believing the stereotypes about gay men, such as loving musicals, dancing, cooking, wearing feather boas and having lisps and limp wrists, and considering having feelings as being 'effeminate'. Nevertheless, the actions of adult Dave, the one writing the book, aren't as easy to overlook. David somehow confesses previous racist thought or actions (which, good for him, we are all works in progress), but not homophobic and biphobic ones. Not only does he state that bisexuality is 'more perverted' than gayness, he also uses the f****t slur a few times, along with its deprecating meaning. Moreover, he seems to think that sexuality depends on moods and that he 'let down' the community for being with a woman. Along the story of Dave figuring out his sexuality, the word 'bisexuality' is used once (not good, see above) and never again mentioned as one might expect, if not from the thought of young Dave, from the author looking back at his life and his identity. All of this bothered me and prevented me from connecting to the character/author. As for my reading experience, it was not the best. I felt like the structure of the book needed some work, as the ideas and memories shown were from different timelines (and it didn't seem to be done deliberately, so the reader would be confused on purpose, thus my dislike of it). The story itself was able to hold my interest at the beginning, but unfortunately it didn't last for long. I could not relate to David in high school, battling his anxiety and depression, probably because that section of the story seemed to be more focused on his actions than on what he was feeling. Maybe I'm wrong, but it did feel that way to me, like an indistinguishable jumble of 'just stop for a minute, please.' The part when he was attending university was a little better. The ending, however, was very pleasant, the narrative felt genuine and grounded, even if at times it seemed like there had been a sudden recovery. I wouldn't have opposed to seeing a bit more of the fight to regain control of one's life. I believe it must have taken a lot of courage for the author to open up and let people 'pry' into his brain at his darkest hour and for that I think he deserved some recognition.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caroline D. (CarolineReads)

    *I received this book on NetGalley I really enjoyed reading this book. It follows the author as he experiences his adolescence, and deals with the struggles of questioning his sexuality as well as confronting his mental illness. This book gave me a great insight into his experience, and it showed how difficult adolescence is. It confronts issues regarding discovering sexuality, growing apart from friends, self mutilation, and relationships/breakups. Despite how different the author's teenage expe *I received this book on NetGalley I really enjoyed reading this book. It follows the author as he experiences his adolescence, and deals with the struggles of questioning his sexuality as well as confronting his mental illness. This book gave me a great insight into his experience, and it showed how difficult adolescence is. It confronts issues regarding discovering sexuality, growing apart from friends, self mutilation, and relationships/breakups. Despite how different the author's teenage experience was from my own, I found it completely relatable. Every teenager has a difficult time discovering who they are whilst trying to maintain appearances. To read about David's thoughts during this difficult period in his life, it reminded me that you never really know what is going on in someone's head. Despite how everyone portrays themselves to the world, we really all are incredibly clueless. In adolescence, who we are, who we want to be, what we want to do...it all seems inconceivable. This book was a great reminder also, that no matter how difficult life may seem, it will get better. It is never too late to achieve happiness, and it may seem difficult, but we will all find our way. I think this book is suitable for any young adult/adult to read, and I would strongly recommend it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thea (All About Books)

    Actual Rating: 3.5 I received this e-ARC via NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own. The book is a memoir about David Burton's life as a teenager. The books features anecdotes that deals with depression, anxiety, and sexual orientation confusion to name a few. I connected with David and his story during several anecdotes because he has twin bothers that have Asperger's. I could relate to how he was feeling during these stories as my brother as Asperger's as well. The writing was very eas Actual Rating: 3.5 I received this e-ARC via NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own. The book is a memoir about David Burton's life as a teenager. The books features anecdotes that deals with depression, anxiety, and sexual orientation confusion to name a few. I connected with David and his story during several anecdotes because he has twin bothers that have Asperger's. I could relate to how he was feeling during these stories as my brother as Asperger's as well. The writing was very easy to read and straightforward. Even though it covers very real and serious issues, it feels very honest and manages to still be funny at times. I recommend this memoir would be perfect for any middle school or young high school student who feels like they are lost or no one understand them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Fleurtje Eliza

    What a dreadful and ridiculous title, as I suspect the author is quite aware of. And what a well chosen title for the last chapter! This is a very brave story to tell and it is done with grace, banter even and a gentle way of telling about things that all teenagers torture themselves with: insecurities, expectations, embarrassment and reliving failure. As if peer pressure isn't enough. We are all human beings, no matter how we may appear to the rest of the world. Even when being adults. Thanks to What a dreadful and ridiculous title, as I suspect the author is quite aware of. And what a well chosen title for the last chapter! This is a very brave story to tell and it is done with grace, banter even and a gentle way of telling about things that all teenagers torture themselves with: insecurities, expectations, embarrassment and reliving failure. As if peer pressure isn't enough. We are all human beings, no matter how we may appear to the rest of the world. Even when being adults. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Just_me

    An honest and thought provoking book, based on the question Who am I? In How To Be Happy David tells us of his rollercoaster of emotions as a confused teenager/young man who also battles with depression and anxiety. Being a teenager isn't pretty, throw in confusion on sexuality, parents who are caring for needier younger siblings and a dash of bullying and this is just the beginning of the book. I found this read Refreshingly different to all other books in my library at present. With thanks to Net An honest and thought provoking book, based on the question Who am I? In How To Be Happy David tells us of his rollercoaster of emotions as a confused teenager/young man who also battles with depression and anxiety. Being a teenager isn't pretty, throw in confusion on sexuality, parents who are caring for needier younger siblings and a dash of bullying and this is just the beginning of the book. I found this read Refreshingly different to all other books in my library at present. With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC to read and review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vee

    copy provided to me via net galley and publishers in exchange for review 1.5 stars. I don't remember the last time I read a memoir where I disliked the author this much. This appeared to be marketed as an LGBT book but it's absolutely not clear whether the author is bisexual, or just thought he was gay because he liked theatre? For a book that is supposed to deal with mental health, the author is extremely flippant and insensitive about the self harm of multiple teenage girls, I would be absolutel copy provided to me via net galley and publishers in exchange for review 1.5 stars. I don't remember the last time I read a memoir where I disliked the author this much. This appeared to be marketed as an LGBT book but it's absolutely not clear whether the author is bisexual, or just thought he was gay because he liked theatre? For a book that is supposed to deal with mental health, the author is extremely flippant and insensitive about the self harm of multiple teenage girls, I would be absolutely furious if someone I went to school with years ago wrote about my mental health this way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hopkins

    Ok, but a bit scattered. Should have updated US version with a bit more information on where he lives as I don't think an American teen would pick up on that. Also suicide resources at end are for Australia not US. I think there are better options out there for this type of book. Ok, but a bit scattered. Should have updated US version with a bit more information on where he lives as I don't think an American teen would pick up on that. Also suicide resources at end are for Australia not US. I think there are better options out there for this type of book.

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