How Should A Person Be?

How Should A Person Be?

A Novel From Life

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Facing a creative dilemma after a failed marriage, Sheila gathers inspiration from a depraved and free-spirited artist who becomes her lover, in a tale based on incidents from the author's true life.
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Co., c2012
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780805094725
Characteristics: 306 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 07, 2018

I couldn't finish this book. I read about 25 pages and could no longer deal with the vapid, self-interested narrator. If there's a deeper meaning to this book, it was lost on me.

esgouliaras Aug 02, 2017

A wonderful read! It appeals to young adults trying to figure out who they are and what they believe in.

Feb 22, 2016

I didn't finish this book. I read around 1/3 of it. The writing felt a bit too self-indulgent for me at times. I liked the premise of the novel, but it felt like it still needed a hefty edit.

lasmith55 Dec 27, 2015

My daughter recommended this book to me. She lives in Toronto too and liked the book a lot. I found some parts overly graphic although there was some very good writing.

Nov 08, 2015


Dec 11, 2014

Heard about Sheila Heti on interview

Aug 14, 2013

What an annoying book. Tedious, narcissistic, bitchy. Very Toronto. And I wanted to like it, thought it started off with great potential.

Apr 25, 2013

Didn't get it!!!! Sorry...

Feb 23, 2013

Any time spent reading this could be spent in innumerably better ways: cleaning your kitchen or bathroom, watching a few hours of tv, taking a walk. Why not write an e-mail you've been putting off for too long? I resent the fact that the time I spent with this book is time I will never get back. Superficial, narcissistic twaddle.

ksoles Oct 29, 2012

In "How Should a Person Be?," author Sheila Heti and her real-life friends form a cast of irritating characters who meander through the novel in an attempt to erase the line between fact and fiction. Heti's writing certainly displays cleverness and the author admirably explores unconventional narrative structures. However, these assets do not make up for a rootless, frustrating plot.

A newly divorced playwright, Sheila struggles to complete a commissioned work while searching for a sense of self. She claims to desire a simple life of fame without having to change her life. In addition to writing, Sheila works in a beauty salon where her boss Uri preaches beauty in balance. She also spends time with her eccentric artist friends including Margaux, to whom she dedicates the book. The novel includes actual taped conversations between Sheila and Margaux as well as emails between the two. After a spell of tasteless partying and druggy debauchery, Margaux "unfriends" Heti for invading her privacy and for buying the same yellow dress at an art festival in Miami.

Meanwhile, Sheila meets a baker named Israel, who considers himself a painter. Heti describes their sadomasochistic antics and worries that she's becoming a narcissist, not without good reason. Finally, Heti leaves Toronto for New York, but ends up no happier there. After a gambling jaunt to Atlantic City, she returns to Toronto and presumably resumes her shiftless life. Definitely not a page-turner.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

saintjennifer May 02, 2018

“There are certain people who do not feel like they were raised by wolves, and they are the ones who make the world tick. They are the ones who keep everything functioning so the rest of us can worry about what sort of person we should be.”


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at SSFPL

To Top