The best addiction & recovery memoirs I wish had been available when I first got sober

Carol Weis Author Of Stumbling Home: Life Before and After That Last Drink
By Carol Weis

Who am I?

I come from a family of “functional” alcoholics, where feelings were never discussed and drinking was the way to solve (or more likely avoid or cause) problems. After 25 years of abusing alcohol (and drugs), I finally got sober. And for the first time ever, I started writing, because all those feelings I pushed down wanted a voice. All that childhood trauma needed more than AA and talk therapy to heal.  So I gifted those feelings with written words, as did the writers I mention in my list. Recovery is something to pass on and telling our stories is another healing way to do it.


I wrote...

Stumbling Home: Life Before and After That Last Drink

By Carol Weis,

Book cover of Stumbling Home: Life Before and After That Last Drink

What is my book about?

Carol Weis unveils her two lives in a series of alternating chapters that reveal her transformation. You'll meet a desperate young woman riddled with anger and fear from childhood trauma, and an equally desperate sober, single mom struggling to push those feelings aside to care for her young daughter.

Starting off on the night of her last drink, Stumbling Home quickly reveals the author's love-hate relationship with the legal drug. It then brings the reader along on the sundry adventures she takes under the influence, interspersed with the challenges she faces when she quits, ultimately, on her quest to reinvent herself and find out who she really is.

The books I picked & why

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Drinking: A Love Story

By Caroline Knapp,

Book cover of Drinking: A Love Story

Why this book?

This book came out in 1996, six years after I got sober. It was the first memoir I read about alcohol abuse and the title and subtitle were the things that immediately grabbed my attention. For 25 years, I was in love with the way drinking made me feel (or better yet, not feel), so I knew I would like this book. And even though, at the time, Knapp’s credentials were way out of my league, I related to so much of her story. Like going to a meeting, it made me feel less alone. 

Drinking: A Love Story

By Caroline Knapp,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Drinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fifteen million Americans a year are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Many of them, like Caroline Knapp, started in their early teens and began to use alcohol as "liquid armor," a way to protect themselves against the difficult realities of life. In this extraordinarily candid and revealing memoir, Knapp offers important insights not only about alcoholism, but about life itself and how we learn to cope with it.

It was love at first sight. The beads of moisture on a chilled bottle. The way the glasses clinked and the conversation flowed. Then it became obsession. The…


Lit: A Memoir

By Mary Karr,

Book cover of Lit: A Memoir

Why this book?

I loved her first two memoirs and was excited when this one came out. Karr opens the title with a letter to her son. I like to think of my own memoir as a thank you to my daughter, who I believe came to help me get sober. I related so much to Karr's story—like mine, her only child was five when she and her husband split, thrusting her into a life of single parenting. And though her professional life was far different from my own (as well as her conversion to Catholicism, the religion of my childhood I was also recovering from), the similarities in her drinking and what it did to her family life were reflective of mine. 

Lit: A Memoir

By Mary Karr,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Lit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The long awaited sequel to the beloved and bestselling 'The Liars' Club' and 'Cherry' - a memoir about a self-professed 'blackbelt sinner's' descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness, and her astonishing resurrection.

'If you'd told me, even a year before I start taking my son to church regular that I'd wind up whispering my sins in the confessional or on my knees saying the rosary, I would've laughed myself cockeyed. More likely pastime? Pole dancer. International spy. Drug mule. Assassin.'

Mary Karr's prizewinning 'The Liars' Club' chronicled her hardscrabble Texas childhood and sparked a renaissance in memoir, cresting…


Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

By Sarah Hepola,

Book cover of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Why this book?

This is another memoir that pulled me right in. Like Hepola, I loved the excitement of the whole bar scene, and quite often, drank until I blacked out. Trying to blackout things from my childhood that caused me so much anxiety and pain. And then having to remember and heal from it all when I got sober. 

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

By Sarah Hepola,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blackout as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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.

For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was "the gasoline of all adventure." She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.

But there was a price. She often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where four hours should be. Mornings became detective work on her own life. What…


Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir

By Lisa F. Smith,

Book cover of Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir

Why this book?

I remember when I first saw this title, I wished I had thought of it myself. Though mine may have been, Girl Walks Into a Bar and Stays Way Too Long. Another memoir by a woman who excelled professionally, as she hid her alcohol and coke addictions from herself and others, until it got so bad she couldn’t hide it anymore. 

Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir

By Lisa F. Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Girl Walks Out of a Bar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Lisa Smith gives us a darkly comic, honest, and completely relatable inside look at high-functioning addiction in the world of corporate law-a sort of 'Sex and the Psych Ward.' It's inspiring, informative, and impossible to put down."  
 
--Jennifer Belle, best-selling author of High Maintenance and The Seven Year Bitch
 
"Whether she's telling the town car driver to turn around so she can ditch showing up for her niece's birth and meet her coke dealer, or staging her own semi-intervention, Smith takes us into the mind of someone who's completely in control while being radically out of control. This girl may…


Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me

By Erin Khar,

Book cover of Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me

Why this book?

I worked with Erin on a deeply personal essay when she was an editor at Ravishly and was so excited when her memoir was published. Though we used different drugs and came from different backgrounds, our stories were similar, as are most addicts. We use to get rid of the pain, the shame, the anxiety/depression, whatever ails us. We find reprieve through our addictions, but find a loving life in recovery. 

Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me

By Erin Khar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strung Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This is a story she needed to tell; and the rest of the country needs to listen.”
— New York Times Book Review

“This vital memoir will change how we look at the opioid crisis and how the media talks about it. A deeply moving and emotional read, STRUNG OUT challenges our preconceived ideas of what addiction looks like.”
—Stephanie Land, New York Times bestselling author of Maid

In this deeply personal and illuminating memoir about her fifteen-year struggle with heroin, Khar sheds profound light on the opioid crisis and gives a voice to the over two million people in…


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