The best books about trauma and addiction

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. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Postcards from the Edge

Zoe Fishman Why did I love 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.

By Carrie Fisher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Postcards from the Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** THE NEW YORK TIMES-BESTSELLING CULT CLASSIC NOVEL **
** In a new edition introduced by Stephen Fry **

'I don't think you can even call this a drug. This is just a response to the conditions we live in.'

Suzanne Vale, formerly acclaimed actress, is in rehab, feeling like 'something on the bottom of someone's shoe, and not even someone interesting'. Immersed in the sometimes harrowing, often hilarious goings-on of the drug hospital and wondering how she'll cope - and find work - back on the outside, she meets new patient Alex. Ambitious, good-looking in a Heathcliffish way and…


Book cover of A Million Little Pieces

Zoe Fishman Why did I love 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.

By James Frey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Million Little Pieces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.


Book cover of Drinking: A Love Story

Zoe Fishman Why did I love 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.

By Caroline Knapp,

Why should I read it?

6 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…


Book cover of She's Come Undone

Zoe Fishman Why did I love 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.

By Wally Lamb,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked She's Come Undone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dolores Price is the wry and overweight, sensitive and pained, cynical heroine of this novel. The story follows her from four to 40, from her shattered family life through the hellish circles of sexual and food abuse to her gradual recovery and her fight to love again.


Book cover of Running with Scissors: A Memoir

Zoe Fishman Why did I love 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.

By Augusten Burroughs,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Running with Scissors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year

Now a Major Motion Picture

This is the true story of a boy who wanted to grow up with the Brady Bunch, but ended up living with the Addams Family. Augusten Burroughs's mother gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa Claus and a certifiable lunatic into the bargain. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients and a sinister man living in the garden shed completed the tableau. The perfect squalor of their dilapidated Victorian house, there were no…


You might also like...

Betting on Bernie: A Memoir of A Marriage

By Martha Marks,

Book cover of Betting on Bernie: A Memoir of A Marriage

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

New book alert!

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

What is my book about?

Bernard Marks and Martha Alford met by chance. The odds were long that they would hit it off. That wasn’t in the cards they’d been dealt at birth. But, as gamblers in love, they rolled the dice. And then they worked hard, took risks, caught lucky breaks, built satisfying careers, enjoyed terrific travels, and won their own version of the lottery of life. Over four decades, Lady Luck smiled on them, until one day, she didn’t. Out of the blue, Fortune spun her wheel and taught them that no one is immune to tragedy and heartbreak.

Betting on Bernie is Martha Marks’s memoir of their improbable courtship, happy and prosperous marriage, and not-so-golden “golden years.” It will make you think, wonder, laugh, and cry.

Betting on Bernie: A Memoir of A Marriage

By Martha Marks,

What is this book about?

Bernard Marks and Martha Alford met by chance. No real reason for it, just a series of fluky coincidences. The odds were long that they would hit it off. That wasn’t in the cards they’d been dealt at birth. “It’ll never last,” people whispered after they got engaged. “Poor probability of success” was the general consensus when they married. But Bernie and Martha ignored the naysayers. Gamblers in love, they rolled the dice.

And then they worked hard, took even more risks, caught a few lucky breaks, built satisfying careers, enjoyed terrific travels, and won their own version of the…


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