The best books portraying addiction and family dysfunction with honesty, compassion, and humor

Who am I?

I can say in truth and with humor, that I’m overqualified on this topic. My parents are both alcoholics, I followed suit along with two siblings and married into the club, not once but twice. Thank God my second marriage was to a recovering alcoholic. Today I’m approaching 30 years of sobriety while hubby remains in the lead with 34 years. Knowing what it’s like to live with another alcoholic, practice the art yourself and find a way through it, should be the equivalent of a doctorate on addiction. I know the pain, denial, struggle, and all the lies. Most importantly, I have the heart to help others who, like myself, march on the front line of this battle.


I co-wrote...

In Spite Of Us: A Love Story about Second Chances

By Deb Palmer, Sandy Palmer,

Book cover of In Spite Of Us: A Love Story about Second Chances

What is my book about?

A raw, authentic story written in dual perspectives by two alcoholics, now married and in recovery. Sandy is sober, moving toward God and a better life. Deb is not sober. She believes a sober life would be like staying awake through major surgery.  What happens when this unlikely match agrees to a blind date? Solo, they're a mess, but as a duet? God help them! They are modern-day characters right out of the Bible. Remember the sheep? That pesky fellow wandering off causing the shepherd to leave the ninety-nine and take care of it? That's them. What lengths will God go to save this couple from their worst enemy--themselves?

The books I picked & why

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Days of Wine and Roses

By J.P. Miller,

Book cover of Days of Wine and Roses

Why this book?

The most valuable lesson I received is that sometimes you have to let loved ones make bad choices. There’s nothing you can do beyond prayer and hope.

This book and the movie portray the good in people who do bad or stupid things. You end up loving the characters no matter how bad their choices. Sadly, many can relate to the story through family, friends, or even themself. The characters are believable and I would wager the author based the story on real life. It’s also an excellent book for anyone needing an introduction to recovery programs like Alanon, ACOA, or Alcoholics Anonymous. The story’s message is important: You have to be willing to change and trust in a power higher than yourself.


A Principle of Recovery: An Unconventional Journey Through the Twelve Steps

By Jack Grisham,

Book cover of A Principle of Recovery: An Unconventional Journey Through the Twelve Steps

Why this book?

I recommend this book because it pulls no punches. It’s not easy to get sober, and it’s not glamorous. Jack Grisham--lead singer of the punk band T.S.O.L., has 33 years of sobriety at the time of this writing. He shares that journey honestly with a heart for those needing to hear of his struggles. It’s a good read that teaches what’s behind the 12 steps of recovery. 


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 book does an excellent job describing what it’s like to feel “less than.” For me, that is the crux of my drinking. I truly appreciate that Hepola addresses sexuality patterns for many women alcoholics. It’s difficult to portray this in a way that is understandable but does not excuse the behavior nor shame it. This story is not glamorized and I appreciate that. 


Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book

By Bill W.,

Book cover of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book

Why this book?

How can I not recommend the book that has changed so many lives, including mine. If you don’t find a personal story in this book that relates to you, I promise you will recognize a friend, relative, or co-worker. With each edition, fresh stories are added. And, the steps are explained with backstory and details to help find the road to recovery.  It’s a must-have for anyone suffering from addiction or who knows someone who is. 


Mere Christianity

By C.S. Lewis,

Book cover of Mere Christianity

Why this book?

Admitting there’s a power greater than me and that I am powerless? Phew! That’s a tall order. Mere Christianity deals with the fundamentals and doctrines of the Christian belief. Lewis writes as a former atheist, in a way that anyone can grasp. Most Christians keep a copy of this on their bookshelf. I personally read this book once a year.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in alcoholism, fundamentalism, and addiction?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about alcoholism, fundamentalism, and addiction.

Alcoholism Explore 43 books about alcoholism
Fundamentalism Explore 11 books about fundamentalism
Addiction Explore 31 books about addiction

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Reason for God, The Chemical Carousel, and Under the Influence if you like this list.