Regular price: $23.93

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of being Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa and a lunatic in the bargain.

Suddenly, at age 12, Augusten Burroughs found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian house in perfect squalor. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules. There was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things went dull, there was always the vintage electroshock-therapy machine under the stairs...

Running with Scissors is at turns foul and harrowing, compelling and maniacally funny. But above all, it is a truly amazing chronicle of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

©2002 Augusten Burroughs (P)2002 Audio Renaissance, a Division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

Critic Reviews

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Non-Fiction, 2003

"Beautifully written with a finely tuned sense of style...this memoir of a nightmarish youth is both compulsively entertaining and tremendously provocative." (Publishers Weekly) "Sharp, riotous humor...deeply affecting...this is a survival story readers won't forget." (Booklist) "Bawdy, outrageous, often hilarious." (The New York Times)

More from the same

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall

NOT what I was expecting

This book takes you on a journey of growing up and discovery from a child's point of view. It's an "adult" tape, (definitely not for children - I wouldn't want to explain parts to my 8 year old son, but its not salacious either). It has kept me fascinated for the 40 min. drive home every day for a week. Its like discovering parts of my own family from the viewpoint of one of my younger relatives.

Sometimes previews and marketing do a book a dis-service trying to lure people in. I found this to be true - the value far exceeds what I expected.

The reader is outstanding, bringing each individual character to life with a voice that seems to match the author's words exceedingly well.

45 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kim
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 01-06-14

Way better than the movie

I saw this movie a few years back and wasn't too impressed - I'm glad I decided to give the book a chance. This is one of those pieces that grabs you early and doesn't let go - although gruesome at times, it gets into your head and makes you want to find out what insane thing can possibly happen next. The dialogue comes across as authentic which is just as important to a book as the events that take place - bad dialogue can ruin an otherwise perfect story. Augusten Burroughs is amazingly talented at both writing and narration - I will definitely be listening to his other titles.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kelly
  • Charleston, SC, USA
  • 05-31-03

Hilarious! And a little sad...

Excellent book - I've read some reviews of Burroughs work where they compare him to David Sedaris (who I adore), but other than being gay and funny, comparison stops there. He is so open about his life - painfully so at times - and it really drew me in to his story. With a lot of humor and a gift for communicating the grotesque in a light handed way, Burroughs is an amazing writer. I listen in my car on MP3 player and found myself sitting in parking lots, outside of my house, etc. just so I could keep listening before I had to stop the player.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Covington, WA, USA
  • 12-30-04

Not humor, tragedy.

There are funny moments in an "oh my that's awful" sort of way, but why would I want to read about bodily fluids of all types in excruciating detail set in a home ruled by people with no control over their lives. If you want a voyeuristic appreciation of abysmal human behavior than this is for you, all wrapped up in nervous laughter.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Denton, TX, USA
  • 02-18-07

From the Real Side

As a psychiatrist who has treated two people in my metropolitan area who lived with their psychiatist in the 60's, this is not fiction. It is told with Burroughs' tough, but funny humor. He has found a way to transform his tragic circumstances in a way that others can understand, using the with and humor that must have been part of his survival!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rebecca
  • Plainfield, VT, United States
  • 11-25-06

Not for me

I read a previous review about this book being gross, and thought the reviewer was maybe a little narrow minded. Congratulating myself on being worldly wise, I pressed the download button, but you know what this book really is gross. I am not sure if I was more disturbed by the unhygenic kitchen conditions or the authors 'supposed to be amusing description's' of his 14 year old self being coerced to have anal sex with his much older boyfriend. This could have been a very heroic portrayal of triumph coming from an abusive childhood - but the author tried write humorously about some things that just arent humorous however clever the prose. Before downloading this book I had already listened to Magical Thinking, which was enjoyable. If you like David Sedaris consider downloading Magical Thinking, but personally I would suggest you give Running with Scissors a miss.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Disturbing but Well-written

I struggled to finish this book because the story is so bizarre and quite sad

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Glenn
  • Abingdon, MD, USA
  • 12-25-03

Dysfunctional Overload

I give credit to the narrorator (the author himself) - 50% of an audible book's enjoyment is a narrorator you can stand to listen to. I did like the narraration. One reviewer likened the book to David Sedaris - while there are similarities- Augusten is much darker and is not as funny (it is funny in only a very perverse way). His whole life is surrounded by severely dysfunctional people and at the end I was depressed and felt profound pity for the man. The book is very graphic and many will find it offensive. I usually love dark comedies, but this goes over the edge. If this story is really true (even half true) some of the real-life characters need to be put away for the safety of the public.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Heart wrenching

What did you like best about Running with Scissors? What did you like least?

I will carry this story with me for a long time. His childhood abuse was so heart wrenching that it made me cry. It is amazing that he could survive this and be able to write about it with humor and brush it off like "eh, it made me who I am today" Good for him for having that ability; I just want to scoop up the child he should have been and hug him.

What could Augusten Burroughs have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Been dealt a different mother.

Which scene was your favorite?

When the piece of $hi! doctor losses his license.

Could you see Running with Scissors being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No, please no.

Any additional comments?

My heart goes out to you Austen, you deserved so much better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great story (but not for everyone)

This is a fabulously funny tale of the author's unbelievably wacky up-bringing. Wild beyond belief at times but anyone who has been unfortunate to have met the type of shrink that his family ran into can relate. Some of the lower ratings numbers probably come from the fact that the author openly discusses his own homosexuality and describes some male/male sex scenes.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful