12 of 25
By Augusten Burroughs
320 pages; Picador

Because we'll never bitch about our childhood again.

When Burroughs was 12, his unstable, divorced mom decided to send him to live with her shrink. Bad idea hardy does this justice. The psychiatrist, who lived with his family and a few other patients, ran a criminally chaotic household in which school skipping, house wrecking, drug use and underage sex were encouraged. Disturbing as his memoir is, Burrough's resilience and razor-sharp humor lift it into surprising transcendence. — Dawn Raffel