Jax Heights author pens teen girls’ bible on boys

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Do girls just want to have funi Well, yes, but they also want to know what guys are thinking. That is the main thrust of “Boyology,” a new guide to teenage boys written by Jackson Heights author Sarah Burningham.

Published by Chronicle Books, “Boyology” is the second book by Burningham, 29, who works as a marketing representative for HarperStudio Books in Manhattan and writes on the side. It covers basics like how to deal with boys’ competitive nature as well as more complex subjects like how to subtly ask a boy out and how to deal with competing pressures from different groups of friends.

Burningham started writing the book a year ago, around the same time she and her husband purchased a co-op in Jackson Heights.

“It feels like a real neighborho­od,” she said. “I really like that.”

The combination of South Asian and Latin cuisines available was also a draw.

“I think I could move here for the dough balls alone,” she said.

Not that Burningham has had much time to sample the cuisine in recent months as she appeared on talk shows promoting her book.

“You put so much into writing anything,” she said. “To have it come out and to get to talk about it, to go back to the teenagers and show them, it’s been really fun.”

But Burningham is especially proud of having the book available in her home neighborhood at Espresso 77, the coffee shop at 77th Street and 37th Avenue.

“I know what book sales are like and I know how special it is that they’re selling our book,” she said.

To get the necessary perspective on teenage relationships for the book, Burningham interviewed 2,000 young people over the course of six months.

“They get such a bad rap,” she said of teenagers. “They’re aware of the world in ways I never was as a teen.”

The most frequent query Burningham encountered from her subjects was what the opposite sex was thinking at any given time.

“It’s nice to know, especially as a girl, that everyone is self-conscious, so you just need to take a break and be honest,” she said.

In the chapter covering sex, Burningham urges girls to think beforehand about when to say “stop.”

“It’s important to know what your boundaries are before you get into a situation where you’re dating,” she said, noting that even among groups of friends girls had very different ideas and limits. “She’s gotta know what she wants.”

Burningham always wanted to be a writer, but was first spurred to start writing guidebooks for teenagers when, as a teen herself, she came home after curfew and found her mother on the couch reading “Raising an Ethical Teenager.”

“I was mortified,” she said, noting she told her mom and dad she would write her own guide for teens. “Dad said, ‘That’s great. You can start next weekend when you’re grounded.’”

“How to Raise Your Parents” hit bookshelves in 2008.

Burningham’s passion for teen advice has clearly not lost any steam. She is also preparing to launch an advice column on ABC’s Web site and hopes to finish her next book, “Girl World,” around 2011.

“I want to give advice that is smart and thoughtful, but that will ultimately be able to let them make their own choices,” she said. “I want this to be the starting point for them to figure out who they are.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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