The best books about substance abuse

Who picked these books? Meet our 137 experts.

137 authors created a book list connected to substance abuse, and here are their favorite substance abuse books.
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What type of substance abuse book?


Beautiful Boy

By David Sheff,

Book cover of Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction

Katherine Ketcham Author Of Under the Influence: A Life-Saving Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcholism

From the list on addiction, recovery, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Who am I?

Katherine Ketcham is the coauthor of 17 books about alcoholism/addiction, recovery, spirituality, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and empathy. She is also the author of the memoir, The Only Life I Could Save. She recently updated and revised her first book, Under the Influence: A Life-Saving Guide to the Myths & Realities of Alcoholism, for a 40th anniversary edition (published in September 2021 by Penguin Random House).  A dedicated photographer, columnist, and storyteller, she isn't sure what her 70s have in store for her but she's saving 12 hours of every day for her husband, three children, two grandchildren, extended family, and friends.  Books, walks, golf, yoga, gardening, story-collecting, daydreaming, and a good night's sleep should fill up the rest.

Katherine's book list on addiction, recovery, and the triumph of the human spirit

Discover why each book is one of Katherine's favorite books.

Why did Katherine love this book?

If only.” Sheff‘s book about his meth-addicted son dives deep into the “if only” agonies of parents who question their every action, wondering what they could have done differently, or said (or not said) in a different way to help their children avoid the horrors of drug addiction. I asked the same questions in my book, The Only Life I Could Save, and I came to the same terrifying conclusion: We cannot make the choice of life or death for our children.

My favorite lines: “I am in a silent war against an enemy as pernicious and omnipresent as Evil . . . only Satan himself could have designed a disease that has self-deception as a symptom, so that its victims deny they are afflicted, and will not seek treatment, and will vilify those on the outside who see what’s happening.”

By David Sheff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong?'

Those are the wrenching questions that haunted every moment of David Sheff's journey through his son Nic's addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery.

Before Nic Sheff became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole,…

Exit Here.

By Jason Myers,

Book cover of Exit Here.

Sasha Dawn Author Of Blink

From the list on realistic teen characters.

Who am I?

Human psychology has always fascinated me, and studying what drives human behavior is necessary in writing realistic characters. I bring psychological studies into every novel I write, and realistic characters, often flawed, always receive top billing. One of my hallmarks is presenting a story’s setting as a supporting character, as well—much like the books I’ve recommended. I have written and published seventeen titles, chock full of the many facets of the human condition, whether I’m writing for teens (as Sasha Dawn) or adults (as Brandi Reeds). The books on my list inspire, entertain, and perhaps most importantly feel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sasha's book list on realistic teen characters

Discover why each book is one of Sasha's favorite books.

Why did Sasha love this book?

Exit Here. was one of the first exhibits of teen literature I studied on my journey to publishing. Jason Myers portrays college-age Travis with the weight of traumatic experiences and the loft of the future spinning in his head. Readers are brought immediately into Travis’ headspace, wherein they feel all the trauma, excitement, and uncertainty Travis experiences. Because I wrote my Edgar finalist book from the male point of view, I reread Myers shortly before drafting. It’s a great example of human fallibility.

By Jason Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Exit here. Enter apathy. Jason Myers pushes the limits of teen fiction with this tale of love, addiction, and wrong choices.

Travis is back from college for the summer, and he's just starting to settle in to the usual pattern at home: drinking, drugging, watching porn, and hooking up.

But Travis isn't settling in like he used to; something isn't right. Maybe it's that deadly debauch in Hawaii, the memories of which Travis can't quite shake. Maybe it's Laura, Travis's ex, who reappears on the scene after a messy breakup and seems to want to get together -- or not.…

Book cover of Alcohol and Opium in the Old West

Randi Samuelson-Brown Author Of Market Street Madam

From the list on the dark side of the Wild West.

Who am I?

I recall the exact moment when my interest sparked about frontier prostitution and Denver’s underbelly — a friend mentioned the ‘bad blood’ in her family — an ancestor who was a second-rate madam and who employed her own daughters. The quest started. Who were these women, and why did they make the choices they did? I’ve spent years chasing down traces of the old west’s prostitutes, fascinated by their identities and lives. The west had opportunities for women who were willing to take chances. As a fifth-generation Coloradoan, I hoped to capture the story of these enterprising and overlooked women, their lives, and the world around them.

Randi's book list on the dark side of the Wild West

Discover why each book is one of Randi's favorite books.

Why did Randi love this book?

By now, readers can get a sense of where my recommendations are going with all of this. Life in the West was hard, and alcohol and drugs were turned to (often) to help reduce the pain, discomfort, and loneliness of living in the western United States. Whiskey tended to be of poor quality, drugs were not known to be addictive, and a lot of the stereotypical old west behavior stemmed from the use of liquor and drugs – often to the detriment of the users…and innocent bystanders.

By Jeremy Agnew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alcohol and Opium in the Old West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book explores the role and influence of drink and drugs (primarily opium) in the Old West, which for this book is considered to be America west of the Mississippi from the California gold rush of the 1840s to the closing of the Western Frontier in roughly 1900. This period was the first time in American history that heavy drinking and drug abuse became a major social concern.

Drinking was considered to be an accepted pursuit for men at the time. Smoking opium was considered to be deviant and associated with groups on the fringes of mainstream society, but opium…


By Matthieu Ricard,

Book cover of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

Paul J. Zak Author Of Immersion: The Science of the Extraordinary and the Source of Happiness

From the list on happiness that will improve your life.

Who am I?

In my view, there is no bigger quest than to understand how to live a long and fulfilled life. Most of my professional life has focused on running neuroscience experiments in my academic laboratory and developing technologies for companies I have started to understand and increase happiness. I have devoted 20 years to this quest and I continue to work to build a happier and healthier world. I am one of the most cited scientists in this area and also regularly communicate to the general public through TED talks, books, magazine articles, and public lectures.    

Paul's book list on happiness that will improve your life

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

I like and dislike this book! Ricard is a scientist and a Buddhist monk, and is reported to be the happiest man on earth. I know, respect, and like Ricard, and this book harkens back to the Stoics by suggesting that moderation is the key to happiness. My research says yes and no to this.  Ricard is correct that spending too much time worrying about the past or future will drag down one's happiness. My research, and that of many others, have shown the positive effect of meditation on happiness and here Ricard is masterful in explaining how and why meditation is important. Calmness and self-insight are very important to avoiding depression and setting the conditions for happiness, but, as Ricard notes, we must be in communities of other people to truly thrive. A little wildness is awesome, go for it!

By Matthieu Ricard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Combining science and spirit, a cell biologist turned Buddhist monk blends new scientific research with traditional Western philosophy to reveal how readily attainable happiness is.

Can't Get There from Here

By Todd Strasser,

Book cover of Can't Get There from Here

Connie King Leonard Author Of Sleeping in My Jeans

From the list on teen homelessness and poverty.

Who am I?

Teaching middle school made me painfully aware of the disparity in our students’ lives. Some kids have every advantage, while others struggle to survive without enough food, clean water, or a safe, dry place to sleep for the night. All these kids, with their diverse backgrounds, sit side-by-side in class and are expected to perform at the same academic and social levels. In my novels, I feature ordinary teens that are strong, smart, and resilient, like so many of the students who taught me as much as I taught them.

Connie's book list on teen homelessness and poverty

Discover why each book is one of Connie's favorite books.

Why did Connie love this book?

Can’t Get There from Here is another stark look at the realities of kids living on the street. Strasser quickly drew me into the life of Maybe and her tribe of friends Maggot, 2Moro, Rainbow, and Tears. Their day-to-day existence is one of scrounging for food, looking for a safe place to sleep for the night, and avoiding those who would harm them. Adults have hurt these kids so many times and in so many ways that their reluctance to trust the police for help is totally understandable.

By Todd Strasser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Can't Get There from Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her street name is Maybe

She lives with a tribe of homeless teens -- runaways and throwaways, kids who have no place to go other than the cold city streets, and no family except for one another. Abused, abandoned, and forgotten, they struggle against the cold, hunger, and constant danger.

With the frigid winds of January comes a new girl: Tears, a twelve-year-old whose mother doesn't believe her stepfather abuses her. As the other kids start to disappear -- victims of violence, addiction, and exposure -- Maybe tries to help Tears get off the streets...if it's not already too late.…

American Overdose

By Chris McGreal,

Book cover of American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts

Eric Eyre Author Of Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic

From the list on the opioid crisis written by journalists.

Who am I?

I’m a West Virginia-based journalist. I have covered the opioid epidemic for nearly 10 years. In 2017, I was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for stories about massive shipments of OxyContin and other painkillers to small towns in Appalachia. 

Eric's book list on the opioid crisis written by journalists

Discover why each book is one of Eric's favorite books.

Why did Eric love this book?

McGreal’s book fell a bit under the radar, but in my mind, it’s one of the best books of reportage on the opioid epidemic. As a reporter for The Guardian, McGreal covered the drug crisis for years. American Overdose connects all the dots that caused it. The book starts out, “Even as a teenager, Henry Vinson wanted to be an undertaker,” then takes flight from the hollows of West Virginia to the halls of Congress. McGreal is a tenacious reporter and a superb writer. He’s one of the first reporters to lay bare the Food and Drug Administration’s cozy relationship with Purdue Pharma. And he introduces readers to former DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi, who tried to put the brakes on massive shipments of painkillers to small towns across America, but was forced to step aside after Big Pharma complained about him to powerful U.S. lawmakers. The story builds from…

By Chris McGreal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


A devastating portrait of America's opioid painkiller epidemic - the deadliest drug crisis in US history.

One hundred and fifty Americans are killed each day by the opioid epidemic. But, as Chris McGreal reveals it was an avoidable tragedy driven by bad science, corporate greed and a corrupted medical system. He tells the stories of the families devastated by painkillers they thought would heal, and the physicians and scientists who took on the drug companies behind the epidemic. American Overdose is a powerful account of the terrible human cost of the…

How to Love

By Katie Cotugno,

Book cover of How to Love

Katy Upperman Author Of Kissing Max Holden

From the list on the magic (and angst) of first love.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading YA since I was a young adult myself, and I’ve always favored stories with a strong romantic angle. As a kid, I loved The Baby-Sitters Club’s starry-eyed Stacey and Sweet Valley High’s boy-crazy Jessica; as an adult, I flock to the romance section of bookstores and libraries. When the urge to try my hand at writing struck, I drafted young adult romances without even considering other categories or genres. I will always choose a meet-cute, witty banter, and sizzling chemistry over fast-paced action, clever twists, and high-concepts plots. When it comes to reading and writing, I love love! 

Katy's book list on the magic (and angst) of first love

Discover why each book is one of Katy's favorite books.

Why did Katy love this book?

One of my all-time favorite novels, How to Love is a deeply affecting story full of soaring highs and heartbreaking lows. Its protagonist, Reena, is a wonderful example of a strong female character; she’s flawed but inherently good, wildly determined, and fiercely devoted to those she loves—particularly her young daughter and Sawyer, the ultimate bad-boy-with-a-good-heart. How to Love is an unflinching and beautifully-written emotional rollercoaster, and a must-read for fans of contemporary young adult romance.  

By Katie Cotugno,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a love story. But it's not what you think. This is not a first kiss, or a first date. This is not love at first sight. This is a boy and a girl falling in messy, unpredictable, thrilling love. This is the complicated route to happiness that follows.

This is real. This is life. This is how to love.


Reena has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember. But he's never noticed her, until one day... he does. They fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town, leaving…

Book cover of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Karen Swallow Prior Author Of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

From the list on Victorian stories that have lessons for today.

Who am I?

I was a little girl who fell in love with stories who grew up to be an English professor--which is another way of saying that it's my job to help others fall in love with great stories, too! I especially love novels from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries because so much new was happening in the world then that continues to shape how we understand ourselves today. So much has changed and yet the human condition--with all its challenges, disappointments, and dreams--hasn't changed.

Karen's book list on Victorian stories that have lessons for today

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

This literary masterpiece employs some of the most common tropes of early novels: letters, a diary, an old mansion, forbidden love, rumors, gossip, and an overall air of foreboding mystery.

These are the ingredients that make for a gripping story. Yet, Anne Bronte does so much more in this remarkably pioneering work.

In fact, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of the earliest novels address head on alcoholism and domestic violence. It is at once a feminist novel and one that celebrates love that endures—but, most importantly, love based on equality.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall resists the age-old myth that a woman can change a man (or vice-versa).

By Anne Brontë,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

A beautiful edition of Anne Bronte's most enduring novel, to accompany her sisters' greatest books in Penguin Clothbound Classics.

Gilbert Markham is deeply intrigued by Helen Graham, a beautiful and secretive young woman who has moved into nearby Wildfell Hall with her young son. He is quick to offer Helen his friendship, but when her reclusive behaviour becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation, Gilbert begins to wonder whether his trust in her has been misplaced. It is only when she allows Gilbert to read her diary that the…


By William S. Burroughs,

Book cover of Junky: The Definitive Text of "Junk"

Simon Marlowe Author Of The Dead Hand of Dominique

From the list on revealing society as a gaping pus-ridden bedsore.

Who am I?

I was educated in the so-called ‘university of life’, before eventually going to a few proper universities, and returning to live in my old hometown in Essex—after spending far too long making loud music and a nuisance of myself in South London. My literary references are eclectic, but I thought I would focus my book recommendations on the anti-hero who comes from the world of French and American dirty realism. It should alert the reader to the kind of novels I write, although they're highly structured crime thrillers, with a heavy dose of very dry, sardonic sense of humor. Finally, the sequel to my latest novel should be ready for publication in 2023.

Simon's book list on revealing society as a gaping pus-ridden bedsore

Discover why each book is one of Simon's favorite books.

Why did Simon love this book?

When I read Junky, I could hear the soundtrack of Low Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, followed by the extended guitar solo on the live version of Heroin. This is Burroughs using a straightforward narrative before he decided to cut up everything and destroy the notion that there was any purpose to a beginning, middle, and end (see Naked Lunch and beyond!). Junky pulses with the desperation of an addict’s life in post-war New York and drifting down south to places like New Orleans and Mexico City. It’s a unique insight into a drug-infested lifestyle, before drugs became a fashionable accessory. It has authenticity dripping through it and is a testament to Burroughs own addiction, which at one point caused his father to collect him and move him back to live with his parents (just like Lou Reed did before he went on to ‘make…

By William S. Burroughs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Junk is not, like alcohol or weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.' Thus, one of the creative visionaries of the Beat movement recites the junk equation, the calculus by which heroin redefines the addict's world. Burroughs's quasi-autobiographical narrative makes for a raw, fragmented and disturbing account of hallucinations, ghostly nocturnal wanderings, strange sexual encounters and quests to ease the hunger of the needle. Read in the incantional tones of Burroughs himself, this legendary account is as shocking and powerful as it has ever been.

Jesus and the Addict

By Dr. Pam Morrison,

Book cover of Jesus and the Addict: Twelve Bible Studies for People Getting Free from Drugs

Oladapo Richard Osuntokun Author Of The Ordained Demon: The Story of a Young Priest

From the list on keeping you away from freaking out in Hell.

Who am I?

I am interested in identifying and narrowing the fringes between Religion and Psychology and Psychiatry and bringing them together. I am especially interested in pastoral counseling through meditation and prayer. As a Psychiatrist, counselor, teacher of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Religion, and Pastor of a church. My passion is refining and simplifying the processes involved in tackling day-to-day obstacles posed by depression, PTSD, suicide, drug addiction, and other life-threatening mental health issues. I love storytelling. Most of my books will start with a story that will help everyone draw an independent personal conclusion on how to deal with a universal problem.

Oladapo's book list on keeping you away from freaking out in Hell

Discover why each book is one of Oladapo's favorite books.

Why did Oladapo love this book?

Drug abuse has now become one of the greatest banes of our society. The drugs take over the mind and life of the addict and those around him.   

Even the big book has come to appreciate the presence of God in his healing power. One of the chapters in my book is on drug abuse, and it will be an excellent read for everyone. 

The book's straight talk points for meditation on this topic are easy to follow and on point. Overcoming fear, anger, the need to go away for treatment, and resentment from loved ones can be challenging for anyone in recovery. Some struggle with their ability to internalize care; poor financial support or insurance carrier is proven obstacles to treatment.

Both books insist on Christ as the only powerful source of healing and insight.

By Dr. Pam Morrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jesus and the Addict as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jesus and the Addict: Twelve Bible Studies for People Getting Free from Drugs is for leaders in Christian faith-based recovery to guide their communities toward freedom from drugs and it is for those in recovery and for their families. The book contains studies on issues people in recovery face such as overcoming fear, overcoming resentment, having hope, remaining permanently sober, and dealing with forgiveness. New life and a renewed mind through Jesus Christ is the answer in all these things. The book is especially intended for pastors, church leaders, mentors, sponsors, teachers, families and friends of addicts – for anyone…

The Natchez Indians

By James F. Barnett,

Book cover of The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735

Jim Metzner Author Of Sacred Mounds

From the list on ancient mounds.

Who am I?

To me, it seemed the ancient mounds were fertile ground for literary exploration, a living metaphor – evidence of what was likely the first places of spiritual practice in our country, ancient, unknown, and buried, what a symbol to form the basis of a novel! When I began my research, I soon came into contact with the Natchez. I attended their annual gathering and eventually became close friends with the Principal Chief of the Natchez Nation, who vetted Sacred Mounds and wrote its foreword. The book includes historical figures like the Great Sun, descended from the Sun Itself, and his war chief, the Tattooed Serpent. They are part of the tapestry of history woven in Sacred Mounds.

Jim's book list on ancient mounds

Discover why each book is one of Jim's favorite books.

Why did Jim love this book?

The Natchez were the last tribe observed inhabiting and interacting with the ancient mounds. Their culture was remarkable in many ways, such as the tribal imperative for those in the top echelon to marry members of the lowest caste. Barnett's book is the best book available on this remarkable First Nation group.

By James F. Barnett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Natchez Indians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735 is the story of the Natchez Indians as revealed through accounts of Spanish, English, and French explorers, missionaries, soldiers, and colonists, and in the archaeological record. Because of their strategic location on the Mississippi River, the Natchez Indians played a crucial part in the European struggle for control of the Lower Mississippi Valley. The book begins with the brief confrontation between the Hernando de Soto expedition and the powerful Quigualtam chiefdom, presumed ancestors of the Natchez. In the late seventeenth century, Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle's expedition met the Natchez and initiated sustained…

The Same Stuff as Stars

By Katherine Paterson,

Book cover of The Same Stuff as Stars

Lisa Lewis Tyre Author Of Hope in the Holler

From the list on to help kids build empathy for those in need.

Who am I?

I am the author of two middle grade books, and I love writing about kids who may not have much materially but abound in heart and courage. I grew up in a small southern town and my childhood was just like that—low on income but full of love, hope, and friendship. I want kids to know that despite their circumstances there is hope for a better life. Like Wavie’s mom tells her in my book, Hope In The Holler, “You’ve got as much right to a good life as anybody. So go find it!”

Lisa's book list on to help kids build empathy for those in need

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

Life is tough for Angel—her dad is in jail, her mom is irresponsible, and she has to take care of her seven-year-old brother. Paterson doesn’t hold back in this unflinching look at family brokenness, but as sad as the circumstances are, there is hope! Angel meets some new adults and through their small kindnesses, she learns that she is stronger than she ever knew. It’s a great message for any kid who is struggling with too much responsibility. It has a redemption arc that I also loved. 

By Katherine Paterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Same Stuff as Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Angel's dad is in jail and her mum's abandoned her and her little brother at their great-grandmother's crumbling farmhouse. Grandma can't even look after herself, let alone two children, so Angel finds that it's left up to her. In a dreary and lonely world there is only one bright spot - a mysterious stranger who appears on clear nights to teach Angel all about the stars. Katherine Paterson is an internationally acclaimed author who has won the Newbery Medal (twice), the National Book Award for Children's Literature (USA) twice, and the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Street Pharm

By Allison van Diepen,

Book cover of Street Pharm

Kelly Parra Author Of Graffiti Girl

From the list on realistic, edgy, multicultural young adult fiction.

Who am I?

I am a multicultural published author from California. I attended different schools growing up, reading classic literature that I couldn't relate to, resulting in becoming a reluctant reader. I didn't live in historical time periods. My skin was a lighter shade of brown. In my world, I met kids from diverse backgrounds, who spoke slang and had personal hardships. Where were the books like that? That's why I wrote Graffiti Girl. To share a realistic, multicultural approach so the reluctant reader could have characters they could see themselves in. That's why I chose these books, in no specific order, that share contemporary, urban stories involving people of different cultures, who face unique hardships.

Kelly's book list on realistic, edgy, multicultural young adult fiction

Discover why each book is one of Kelly's favorite books.

Why did Kelly love this book?

Street Pharm is a dark, cultural, and realistic look into Tyrone's life as a teenage drug dealer.  A raw and urban story of a teen who inherits a life of crime because of the situation he was born into and the harsh awakening that comes with it. An intense and page-turning read that had me glued till the very end.

By Allison van Diepen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A successful teen drug dealer is forced to reexamine it all in this riveting novel, now in trade paperback with a new cover, from the author of Snitch.

Ty Johnson knows survival. The supply game’s in his blood. And now that he’s taken over his pop’s business, Ty’s smarts and skills have earned him some serious street cred. But Alyse knows nothing about Ty’s reputation, and he’s determined to keep it that way. She’s too beautiful, too brainy, too straight-laced to ever get involved with someone who deals. As long as Ty walks the line, life’s pretty sweet.

Then one…

Book cover of The Sober Girl Society Handbook: An Empowering Guide to Living Hangover Free

Hilary Sheinbaum Author Of The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month

From the list on dry months and dry lifestyles.

Who am I?

I’ve been completing Dry Januarys (and other sober months) since 2017! In turn, I’ve felt more energized, more positive, have experienced better sleep and better skin, among other benefits. I think giving up alcohol for any amount of time is beneficial and I encourage people to try it.

Hilary's book list on dry months and dry lifestyles

Discover why each book is one of Hilary's favorite books.

Why did Hilary love this book?

As the founder of The Sober Girl Society -- and one of the voices leading the sobriety movement in the UK -- Mille Gooch offers personal advice and tips on how to abstain from alcohol in a world where so many social activities revolve around booze. The book is for anyone curious about sobriety or looking to adopt a sober lifestyle for the long term.

By Millie Gooch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sober Girl Society Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


*Voted an Independent best self-care book for 2021*
*Voted one of Heat's best self-help books to help you reach your full potential*

If you've ever woken up feeling anxious, or cringing with embarrassment, about something you did or said whilst drunk the night before, this book may just change your life.

Whichever way you look at it, it's hard to avoid how alcohol really makes us feel: terrible. After years of partying and hangovers started taking a toll on her mental health, Millie Gooch gave up alcohol and has never looked…

Lithium for Medea

By Kate Braverman,

Book cover of Lithium for Medea

María Amparo Escandón Author Of L.A. Weather

From the list on changing your perception of Los Angeles.

Who am I?

I am a creature of habitat. I can’t help but connect with my environment in every possible way. It’s physical, emotional. I spent the first 23 years of my life in Mexico City. Leaving was heart-wrenching, but the promise to fulfill a dream drew me to Los Angeles. During the next four decades I became a student of Los Angeles and the Latino community that populates it. I agree with Randy Newman: I love L.A. 

María's book list on changing your perception of Los Angeles

Discover why each book is one of María's favorite books.

Why did María love this book?

Kate Braverman lived in Los Angeles for years and set many of her stories in this city, like Frantic Transmissions To And From Los Angeles or Palm Latitudes. In Lithium for Medea, Braverman tells the sad and dark story of Rose and her dysfunctional family, a love-hate relationship with her mother, her dying father, and drugs, lots of them. It is a disturbing, cruel, and irreverently poetic story. I survived her writing workshop in the early nineties. A harsh and not very sympathetic teacher, Kate taught me the weight of words and I thank her for that. My copies of her books are yellow from the excessive use of my highlighter. If you enjoy reading poetic prose, Kate Braverman is the master to go to.

By Kate Braverman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lithium for Medea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lithium for Medea is as much a tale of addiction—to sex, drugs, and dysfunctional family chains—as it is one of mothers and daughters, their mutual rebellion and unconscious mimicry. Here is the story according to Rose—the daughter of a narcissistic, emotionally crippled mother and a father who shadowboxes with death in hospital corridors—as she slips deeply and dangerously into the lair of a cocaine-fed artist in the bohemian squalor of Venice. Lithium for Medea sears us with Rose’s breathless, fierce, visceral flight—like a drug that leaves one’s perceptions forever altered.

Book cover of The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

Lauren Aguirre Author Of The Memory Thief: And the Secrets Behind How We Remember

From the list on the mind, memory, and medical science.

Who am I?

I am an author, science journalist, and storyteller. I worked for the PBS science series NOVA for many years, producing documentaries, podcasts, digital video series, and interactive games on everything from asteroids to human origins to art restoration. But I am particularly fascinated by strange brains, which is why I wrote my first book, The Memory Thief. I am currently at work on a second book about a different neurological disorder. 

Lauren's book list on the mind, memory, and medical science

Discover why each book is one of Lauren's favorite books.

Why did Lauren love this book?

What if addiction isn’t a chronic relapsing disease, as described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse? What if a better way to think about it is as a type of learning disorder? Neuroscientist and author Marc Lewis, himself a recovering addict, makes his compelling argument through the stories of five people suffering from substance use disorders. This insightful book left me believing that the attempt to fit addiction into rigid categories does a disservice to the complexity of this condition.

By Marc Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biology of Desire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through the vivid, true stories of five people who journeyed into and out of addiction, a renowned neuroscientist explains why the "disease model" of addiction is wrong and illuminates the path to recovery.The psychiatric establishment and rehab industry in the Western world have branded addiction a brain disease, based on evidence that brains change with drug use. But in The Biology of Desire , cognitive neuroscientist and former addict Marc Lewis makes a convincing case that addiction is not a disease, and shows why the disease model has become an obstacle to healing.Lewis reveals addiction as an unintended consequence of…

The Tennis Partner

By Abraham Verghese,

Book cover of The Tennis Partner

Sung J. Woo Author Of Love Love

From the list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography.

Who am I?

I became a tennis fan in the mid-2000’s, when Roger Federer reigned supreme. But here’s the thing – I wasn’t a huge fan of his. In fact, I found him boring, because he’d win just about every match. But then came this young Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who wore sleeveless shirts and capri pants and resembled a pirate – and I’ve been hooked ever since. I play the game to the best of my ability, which isn’t much; I’ve been told by my opponents that I’m quite annoying, in that I often manage to turn surefire winners into yet another rally. Porn-wise, no expertise whatsoever, outside of researching it for my second novel!

Sung's book list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography

Discover why each book is one of Sung's favorite books.

Why did Sung love this book?

Let me just come right out and say it: this is a sad book. It’s a tragedy – like The Great Gatsby, Abraham plays the role of the narrator Nick Carraway while David Smith, an Australian doctor, becomes his unfortunate Jay Gatsby. The man is troubled (substance addiction), but what brings the two men born generations apart is the game of, you guessed it, tennis. (Sorry to disappoint, but not porn – though there is some sexual compulsion, so maybe a tiny bit?) What is most impressive about this work is Abraham’s restraint. There’s some high drama here, but he keeps it all in sensible, practical check, which is why it all feels so very real.

By Abraham Verghese,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tennis Partner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In January 1994, Abraham Verghese, an indian doctor in a Texan teaching hospital, was called to the morgue to identify the body of his close friend, student and tennis partner David Smith. David had killed himself because he could not deal with his addiction to intravenously injected cocaine. This book is Verghese's tribute to his dead friend; it is also an attempt to understand and explain drug addiction. Being both doctor and friend, Verghese offers us a unique insight into addiction, describing with clinical detachment the horrific physical symptoms of abuse, revealing how the stress of the medical profession leads…

The Big Fix

By Tracey Helton Mitchell,

Book cover of The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin

James Brown Author Of The Los Angeles Diaries: A Memoir

From the list on addiction and recovery from someone who has been there.

Who am I?

I took my first hit of marijuana when I was 9. I had my first drink at 12 and my first shot of heroin at 14.  My brother and sister were also alcoholics and ended up taking their own lives. I abused drugs and alcohol for over 30 years, and after many failed attempts to turn my life around, I now have 15 years of continuous sobriety. I’ve also read almost ninety books on the topic of substance abuse and have written several myself about my personal struggles to get clean and sober and stay that way.  Addiction, sadly, is a subject I know all too well.

James' book list on addiction and recovery from someone who has been there

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

Another underrated and underread book, this memoir traces one woman’s descent into heroin hell and, ultimately, her recovery and redemption. I’ve known many heroin addicts in my day, and I hate to say it, especially publicly, but very few have been able to turn their lives around. Mitchell is one of the exceptions, and she sets a wonderful example for others to follow and not lose hope. Many memoirists simply make a record of their lives, or, worse, glorify their drug addiction, but not Hanson. Her book is one of insight and soul-searching into the madness of addiction. She pulls no punches about the ugliness of the addict’s life, yet at the same time, she offers hope to the most seemingly hopeless among us. At the heart of this book is a powerful message of recovery by someone, who by all accounts, should be dead.

By Tracey Helton Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Fix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After surviving nearly a decade of heroin abuse and hard living on the streets of San Francisco's Tenderloin District, Tracey Helton Mitchell decided to get clean for good.

With raw honesty and a poignant perspective on life that only comes from starting at rock bottom, Tracey tells her story of transformation from homeless heroin addict to stable mother of three-and the hard work and hard lessons that got her there. Rather than dwelling on the pain of addiction, The Big Fix focuses on her journey of recovery and rebuilding her life, while exposing the failings of the American rehab system…

Half Broke

By Ginger Gaffney,

Book cover of Half Broke: A Memoir

Candace Wade Author Of Horse Sluts: The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw

From the list on horse journeys not to be missed.

Who am I?

The me of me is a “late in life rider” and freelance writer—with an edge. I learned to ride horses in my ‘40s when we left the wonders of California for sweet tea, okra, and equine “yard art” of Tennessee. Horses and writing mixed to create Horse Sluts. My political bent led me to craft an exposé on the brutal “training” of Big Lick TN Walking Horses. I still ride and explore the more humorous sides of aging and riding. A stickler for "writing worth reading,” I eschew self-conscious, wandering-lost writing. The books I recommended are well crafted.

Candace's book list on horse journeys not to be missed

Discover why each book is one of Candace's favorite books.

Why did Candace love this book?

I tend to flee from memoirs and “horse story” books. Then I read Half Broke by Ginger Gaffney.

Ginger is a schooled writer, horse trainer, clinician, rider-trainer and, in my opinion, a master observer. She was asked to help the tooth-bearing, ear-pinning, predatory gang of horses tended by the Livestock Team of resident “multiple offenders and felons” at an alternative-prison ranch in New Mexico. As a memoir, Half Broke is a “peeling off” of emotional bandages—for her, for the raw souls of the inmates and for the horses.

Ginger’s style is straightforward, non-judgmental, and thought challenging. No gooey anthropomorphizing.

By Ginger Gaffney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the start of this remarkable story of recovery, healing, and redemption, Ginger Gaffney answers a call to help retrain the troubled horses at an alternative prison ranch in New Mexico, a facility run entirely by the prisoners. The horses are scavenging through the dumpsters, kicking and running down the residents when they bring the trash out after meals. One horse is severely injured.

The horses and residents arrive at the ranch broken in one way or many: the horses are defensive and terrified, while the residents, some battling drug and alcohol addictions, are emotionally and physically shattered. With deep…

Bad City

By Paul Pringle,

Book cover of Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels

Jean E. Rhodes Author Of Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

From the list on understanding the psychology of deception.

Who am I?

I'm clinical psychology professor at UMass Boston and expert on mentoring relationships. When I was a senior in high school, my dad left behind thirty years of marriage, four kids, and a complicated legal and financial history to start a new life. I couldn't fully comprehend the FBI investigation that forced his departure—any more than I could've fathomed the fact that my classmate Jim Comey would eventually lead that agency. I was also reeling from a discovery that my dad had “shortened” his name from Rosenzweig to Rhodes, a common response to anti-Semitism. It was during that period that I experienced the benefits of mentors and the joy of books about hidden agendas and subtexts.

Jean's book list on understanding the psychology of deception

Discover why each book is one of Jean's favorite books.

Why did Jean love this book?

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels, written by investigative reporter Paul Pringle is another gem of this literary genre.

What began as Pringle’s investigation of a young woman’s overdose, led him to the prominent dean of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). Once on this trail, he uncovered the corruption at USC, the incompetence of the Pasadena Police Department, and a coverup at the Los Angeles Times.

After reading the first few pages, I was forced to cancel all meetings and plans. Pringle investigative reporting not only helped to uncover the toxic mix of money and power, but the mechanics and drudgery of getting to the bottom of things.

By Paul Pringle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Pringle’s fast-paced book is a master class in investigative journalism... when institutions collude to protect one another, reporting may be our last best hope for accountability."
―The New York Times

For fans of Spotlight and Catch and Kill comes a nonfiction thriller about corruption and betrayal radiating across Los Angeles from one of the region's most powerful institutions, a riveting tale from a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who investigated the shocking events and helped bring justice in the face of formidable odds.

On a cool, overcast afternoon in April 2016, a salacious tip arrived at the L.A. Times that reporter Paul…