Magical Thinking

Book Report by Logan Zaszewski

Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs--Audiobook Excerpt

About the Author

Introduction of the Author

Augusten Burroughs was born Christopher Richter Robison in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23, 1965. Augusten's parents struggled with alcoholism and mental illness and they separated when he was twelve. Augusten stopped attending school at 15 and his parents' longtime psychiatrist became his legal guardian. He moved to San Francisco when he was 19 and became the youngest copywriter in the city, and eventually found great success in the Manhattan advertising community, eventually working for many of the top agencies where he created global ad campaigns for worldwide brands. After eighteen years in advertising Augusten left the industry to pursue a career as an author. Two years later, his 2002 memoir, Running with Scissors, became a great success and spent three consecutive years on the New York Times bestseller list. It was also made into a movie. (Source: Accessed on 2-3-14)

Summary and Report on Magical Thinking


The definition of Magical thinking is the identification of causal relationships between actions and events where scientific consensus says that there are none.

The stories / memories within this book are perfect examples of Augusten Burroughs version of Magical Thinking, In this book, the author uses his "memory's" to tell the story ( or a version of) his life. Magical Thinking is a funny, interesting, strange, unexpected and at times very weird trip through someones life as told from their memories at different points in their life.

The hardest part of doing a report on a book composed of someones memories is there is no simple theme or story to report on. I've decided the best way to report on this book is by picking 5 stories (chapters) from the book to report on, and show how the author's "magical thinking" is present in each story.

"Commercial Break"

The first essay in the collection, "Commercial Break," tells the story of when he was cast, as an elementary school student, in a Tang commercial. When he was in class one day some guys from the city came to his school and told his teacher they were looking to cast a few kids in an upcoming commercial. The author engaged in so much Magical Thinking that he convinced himself that not only would he get a part in the show, but that his getting picked also indicated how special he was, that from then on he would always need and get more, and that being picked changed his brain to the point that later in life his tolerance for alcohol was magical increased. This one is funny with just a touch of darkness because despite all the magical thinking in the world (which the author believes got him in the commercial in the first place) he was blocked by another kid during the whole commercial when it was on TV.

"Vanderbilt Gene"

In the essay ''The Vanderbilt Gene'' he was convinced he was stolen from a rich family when he was a baby. His family went on a trip to a luxurious estate. When they got there he had a strange idea that he had seen the house before. When he stepped inside he saw all of the family's self portraits. He thought they looked exactly like him which brought him to the conclusion that this was his family. This chapter did a really good job in supporting the idea of his magical thinking because only someone with that kind of thinking could of thought up the whole story in his head.

''The Rat/Thing''

A darker essay was the "The Rat/Thing," where the author takes down his memory of an evening spent trying to kill a monstrous rodent in the tub of his New York City apartment. However, even with such a nasty subject matter, there are times when that essay just made me laugh. He was so scared of such a simple animal. He was scared so much that he resorted to killing the small animal viscously. It shows how his mind twisted reality. Once he killed it he felt horrible. He regretted killing the creature viscously even though at the time he wouldn't have done it any other way.

''Roof Work''

In this essay he realized he had a bubble on the roof of his mouth. He tried so hard to pop, it wash it away, etc. He had scared himself by imagining a whole bunch of sicknesses that could of caused. He was scaring himself over nothing which again shows he has magical thinking. One morning when he woke up he went to go feel the roof of his mouth with his tongue but instead of finding a bubble he found a hole. He immediately freaked out again and started diagnosing it with a bunch of different diseases.

''I Dated an Undertaker''

In this essay he starts dating an undertaker. The whole chapter was about him trying to find something wrong with the undertaker. However the undertaker was and average normal and nice guy but Augusten would not except that. He kept trying to figure out a secret that wasn't there. He started obsessing over it, became his life. This chapter shows us that his magical thinking dictated his life. His no concrete idea was the focus of everything for him.

Favorite Quote from book/ and why:

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

I really related to this particular quote from the book because it reminds me of myself. I feel that I have many flaws, but I know that I have good intentions. I feel uncomfortable around people that seem too smart or pretty or "normal" because I cannot relate to those kinds of people.

Who I Would Recommend This Book to and Why

I would recommend this book to young adults and adults because of its mature themes and language. I would recommend this book because I feel like lots of people with different personalities can enjoy this book because it is funny, interesting, and different.

Type of Language

The book is written in first person, uses a lot of slang, and is informal.


There really is no conclusion to this book like in a normal book or story. It's like he either ran out of memories to write about, or space to write. In the end, the stories in the book each have their own conclusions, just like stories in everyone's life. However, it was fun to read. When I got the book I approached it like most students do when they have a book report to write. I didn't want to read the book but had to in order to get a good grade. As I started to read the first chapter I realized that the book wasn't just boring garbage. It was written well, had some funny stories from the authors childhood and when he grew up. I even read it during some of my study halls. Although I didn't want to read it I am glad I did because it showed me that it is possible to write a really good book just based on memories.