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How to Be Happy

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

David Burton

  • awardShortlisted, Foreword Indies Awards: Young Adult Nonfiction, United States, 2017
  • awardWinner, 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.


    Listen to David talking with #LoveOzYA.
    Read a Q&A with David at Reading Time.
    Read this feature by David for on ‘The Best Books I Never Wrote’.


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    David Burton
    About the Author

    David Burton is a writer from Brisbane, now based in Sydney, best known for his theatre work. His play April’s Fool (Playlab Press) toured nationally in 2012. He has recently co-written Hedonism’s Second Album for La Boite indie, and The Landmine Is Me for Queensland Theatre Company. A speaker and presenter in school across Queensland, David is...

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    Text publication date:
    26 August 2015
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    depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love, adolescent confusion
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    Praise for David Burton
    andHow to Be Happy

    ‘[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’.’

    How to Be Happy is funny. Bitingly, embarrassingly, genuinely – FUNNY…This book is gold, and if I could I’d make it mandatory reading in schools.’

    ‘A fast-paced read that reminded me of one of my favourite memoirs, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.’

    How to Be Happy is easily a five star book …I just can’t fathom my love for this book into words. You all need to read it.’

    ‘This is an important book, one that deserves our attention… Highly recommended.’

    ‘Anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t fit in will be able to relate to the story of David’s unusual childhood and teenage years. I wish there had been a book like this when I was 14.’

    How to Be Happy is a perfect books for teens and adults…It’s funny, touching, and insightful, and I think it could help a lot of people feel less isolated.’

    ‘The only thing better than reading David Burton’s debut memoir, is listening to the author live…Funny and insightful.’

    ‘A hard-hitting, honest reflection…This is a brave story, told with humour and humility.’

    ‘An honest and thought provoking look at some of the key issues facing young people today.’

    ‘Burton’s descriptions of his anxiety and depression are tangibly poignant, giving authentic voice to those struggling with similar issues. His tone morphs fluidly from compulsively funny to devastating from one moment to the next, and his uproarious wit shines throughout. A heartfelt, accessible book that strives to break down the stigmas surrounding mental illness with remarkable humor and honesty.’

    Other editions ofHow to Be Happy
    • How to Be Happy
      ISBN: 9781922253156
      26 August 2015
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