Whether you want to stop drinking forever because of an addiction or you just want to cut back on your intake, educating yourself is key to success on your journey. When I first got sober I surrounded myself with a support system, got as much free counselling as I could get, and changed the vast majority of my behaviours. I had to be proactive in my sobriety and that meant being able to detect relapse triggers, manage stress, and learn about the long-term effects of alcoholism to ensure I stayed away from it. Reading helped so much in my early recovery as it was a productive, healthy pastime that didn’t involve me consuming poison. Reading books about alcoholism, sobriety success stories, and mental health self-help became my new hobby and it was one of the best things I did for myself.
This list is a mixture of books I read that helped me, and books that are on my to-read list that I’ve seen amazing reviews on. If you’re not keen on purchasing them Halifax Public Libraries stock a few of these titles!
1. Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women And Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston
This is the first book I read when I got sober and it changed my entire outlook on sobriety and the advertising industry when it comes to marketing booze to women. There are some passages in this book I still quote to this day.
2. Dharma Punx by Noah Levine
This book was recommended to me by a friend who thought it might help me back when I was still drinking and pretty engrained into the punk and metal scene. Being a part of those scenes make quitting drinking that much harder and this book really spoke to this struggle. This book is so inspiring and highly recommended if you feel you’re too rebellious to follow the traditional path to sobriety. Thinking about the part of the book where he talks about the deer still gives me magical chills when I think of it!
3. Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol by Ruby Warrington
This is one of the books that started the whole “sober curious” movement and comes highly recommended. A friend of mine recently read this and says that it’s helped her view her relationship with alcohol in a whole new light and inspired her to begin to implement booze-free activities into her social life.
4. Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life by Rosamund Dean
This is another fantastic book for those who are sober curious. “Ever woken up worrying that you said the wrong thing at work drinks the night before? Felt frustrated with yourself for polishing off the entire bottle of wine when you only intended to have one glass? The emotional pull of alcohol is strong, but Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Will Change Your Life is here to help us cultivate a new, healthy and more mindful relationship with alcohol.”
5. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
Not necessarily sobriety related but still an amazing read that can help you immensely on your journey. “How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined.”
6. Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand
In case you didn’t know, Russell Brand is MUCH more than just an actor and comedian. He’s been clean and sober for 17 years, hosts a pretty intellectual podcast, speaks on other podcasts about addiction, and wrote this book on recovery. Get ready to laugh, take pause, learn, and heal.
7. Rewired: A Bold New Approach To Addiction and Recovery by Erica Spiegelman
“Rewired is a new, breakthrough approach to fighting addiction and self-damaging behavior by acknowledging our personal power to bring ourselves back from the brink. Centered on the concept of self-actualization, Rewired will guide you towards not only physical sobriety, but a mental, emotional, and spiritual sobriety by learning to identify key principles within yourself, including authenticity, honesty, gratitude, and understanding a need for solitude.”
8. Alcoholics Anonymous by Anonymous
This book is packed full of really helpful information, advice, and relatable stories on struggle and sobriety success. Just like the meetings, some people love them and some people hate them and there’s a lot of misinformation out there about AA. But that doesn’t make this book any less amazing.
9. The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace
Another amazing book for those who are questioning their drinking habits and want solutions. There’s a Naked Mind Podcast too!
10. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
A “New York Times Bestseller” for good reason- this book is life-changing! “A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, BLACKOUT is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure–the sober life she never wanted.”
11. Nothing Good Can Come from This: Essays by Kristi Coulter
“Kristi Coulter inspired and incensed the internet when she wrote about what happened when she stopped drinking. Nothing Good Can Come from This is her debut–a frank, funny, and feminist essay collection by a keen-eyed observer no longer numbed into complacency.”
12. Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
“…when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click and that’s when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life—and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that’s as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is true. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power.”
13. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
This book comes so highly recommended in all the Facebook sober groups I’m in that I think I’ll have to purchase it. People rave about it being very well written and worthy of reading twice.
14. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober: Discovering a happy, healthy, wealthy alcohol-free life by Catherine Gray
“Ever sworn off alcohol for a month and found yourself drinking by the 7th? Think there’s ‘no point’ in just one drink? Welcome! There are millions of us.”