The best books about trauma and addiction

Zoe Fishman Author Of Invisible as Air
By Zoe Fishman

Who am I?

My fifth novel, Invisible As Air is about addiction on the heels of grief. It’s about how destructive unvoiced pain can be, and how important it is to acknowledge, both privately and publicly, one’s pain. It can eat you alive if you let it, as well as everyone around you – especially when it morphs into an addiction. It’s through my writing that I’m able to address and dissect my own pain and grief. I often wonder what would happen to me without such an outlet and am moved by books depicting the alternative.

I wrote...

Invisible as Air

By Zoe Fishman,

Book cover of Invisible as Air

What is my book about?

Sylvie Snow knows the pressures of expectations: a woman is supposed to work hard, but never be tired; age gracefully, but always be beautiful; fix the family problems, but always be carefree. For three years, Sylvie has repressed her grief about the heartbreaking stillbirth of her newborn daughter, Delilah. On the morning of the anniversary of her death, when she just can’t face doing one…more…thing: she takes one—just one—of her husband’s discarded pain pills. And suddenly she feels patient, kinder, and miraculously relaxed. 

She tells herself that the pills are temporary, just a gift, and that when the supply runs out she’ll go back to her regularly scheduled programming. But days turn into weeks, and Sylvie slips slowly into a nightmare. 

The books I picked & why

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Postcards from the Edge

By Carrie Fisher,

Book cover of Postcards from the Edge

Why this book?

I love this book about addiction and a return to life post-rehab. It’s also everything about Hollywood you love to hate and a mother/daughter relationship for the ages. Carrie Fisher is funny, vulnerable, and real. What value did you get from this book? Addiction is often the result of trauma and Fisher navigates the cause and effect in a disarming way. Her writing is authentic and funny. especially set against the Hollywood backdrop. I laughed and I cried, and best of all I related to her struggle despite the differences in our experiences.

A Million Little Pieces

By James Frey,

Book cover of A Million Little Pieces

Why this book?

This book became infamous when Oprah outed Frey on her show – what he had published as a memoir was actually a work of fiction. That said, there’s no denying that this book is unputdownable; a wild ride of addiction from the addict’s point of view. The highs, literal and figurative are written in sharp contrast with the lows. Frey has a way of making the reader empathize with an inherently unlikable character, which is very hard to do as a writer.

Drinking: A Love Story

By Caroline Knapp,

Book cover of Drinking: A Love Story

Why this book?

Knapp dazzled me with her honesty about her addiction and her battle with its hold on her. The courage it takes for her to admit she has a problem and her journey to recovery are both astounding and relatable. I was also so glad to read about a female struggle with trauma and addiction.

She's Come Undone

By Wally Lamb,

Book cover of She's Come Undone

Why this book?

This is an unforgettable heroine who’s addicted to food. We follow her through her adolescence to womanhood; struggling to untether herself from pain. Heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time: my favorite mix. It also tackles food addiction, which is often overlooked in fiction despite the fact that it’s likely the most relatable one of all.

Running with Scissors

By Augusten Burroughs,

Book cover of Running with Scissors

Why this book?

This is the most unlikely origin story I’ve ever read – I laughed, cried, and cringed on this boy’s journey to adulthood after being given away by his mother to her absolutely unqualified psychiatrist. Everyone is nuts. Highly entertaining and inspiring.

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