Just before the new year, model/cookbook author/social media queen Chrissy Teigen announced she was one month sober, thanks to inspiration she took from reading “Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol” by Holly Whitaker.
“One month ago, on my birthday, I got this book from my doctor and friend,” Teigen, 35, wrote to her 33 million Instagram followers. “I have been sober ever since … an incredible read.”
Whether you’re committed to a Dry January, cutting back for the new year, or quitting forever, we’ve rounded up a few more quit-lit titles to inspire your journey. To be clear: Books are no substitute for talking with your doctor, especially if you’re suffering from a physical addiction or have detox/withdrawal symptoms. Addiction and alcohol abuse require treatment by professionals.
An Amazon bestseller that’s been featured on “Good Morning America,” Annie Grace’s “This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life” starts with the premise: “What if, by reversing years of unconscious conditioning, you could return to the perspective of a non-drinker? Not a recovering (sober) alcoholic … but a person who has never picked up a bottle…” Her follow-up, “The Alcohol Experiment: Expanded Edition: A 30-Day, Alcohol-Free Challenge to Interrupt Your Habits and Help You Take Control,” is essentially a way to help make any month Dry January, with a chapter and journal prompt for each day. You might also find inspiration in the “This Naked Mind” podcast, Grace’s Twitter account, or her website: thisnakedmind.com.
Some will find sobriety memoirs more helpful than quit-lit. And you won’t find a more powerful memoir than 2009′s “Lit,” by award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist Mary Karr. Certain readers will feel this poem of a memoir, charting the author’s journey to sobriety. She writes: “At the end of my drinking, the kingdom I longed for, slaved for, and at the end of each day lunged at was a rickety slab of unreal estate about four foot square — a back stair landing off my colonial outside Cambridge, Mass. I’d sit hunched against the door guzzling whiskey and smoking Marlboros … this spate of hours was the highlight of day. I was empress of that small kingdom and ruled it in all weathers. … I defended my time there like a bull with a lowered head, for that was the only space in the world I had control of.”
In Laura McKowen’s ultra-readable 2020 memoir, “We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life,” the Nahant resident recalls the night of her brother’s 2013 wedding. She was “a marathon runner, a yoga teacher, and a mama to one. … I was ostensibly doing quite all right. Except I wasn’t. … That night, the two worlds I’d been trying so diligently to keep separate collided: my interior life, full of secrets and coverups, nightly blackouts with wine and Ambien … and the external one, where I hosted dinner parties and brought my daughter to playdates…”
After describing that wedding night, she writes, “I imagine you’re assuming this was the proverbial ‘rock bottom’ you’ve heard about. … In some ways it was really only the beginning.” If you’re looking for sober buddies instead of drinking buddies, McKowen has founded The Luckiest Club — a community support group. Find more inspiration on Instagram: @theluckiestclub and @laura_mckowen. She’s also on Twitter: @LauraMckowen.
In the UK bestseller “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober,” Catherine Gray reveals her own story, adding research and facts. Gray recalls waking up on a jail-cell mattress in 2007, having almost no memory of the night before. When an officer hands over her belongings, “there’s a tiny, watermelon-pink, glittery child’s hairbrush. … I’ve never seen this hairbrush before.”
When the officer asks her why she drank so much, she’s quiet, stumped. She writes, “I have no response. I never really feel like I have a choice. Once I start drinking, I finish.” She muses on how society at large sees alcohol (fun!) and sobriety (lame!) “[I]f drinking is so tremendous … then why do so many of us desperately want to do less of it?… [S]obriety has such a bad rep … stone-cold sober needs a rebrand.”
In a similar vein: “The Sober Diaries: How One Woman Stopped Drinking And Started Living,” by Clare Pooley. An Amazon Editors pick in biography and memoir, this is Pooley’s own story, told with humor — including a laugh-out-loud bit about her role in a Bridget Jones documentary — along with research and advice.
Terms like “wine o’clock” and “mommy juice” are cute until they aren’t. “The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine o’Clock,” by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca, “looks at women and their relationships with alcohol, exploring the myths behind this socially acceptable yet often destructive habit,” according to the publisher’s synopsis. Turner is a cognitive behavioral therapist and addictions counselor; Rocca is the founder of soberistas.com — another spot to find sober buddies.
Challenge yourself with a book like “How to Quit Alcohol in 50 Days” by Simon Chapple. The UK sobriety speaker and avid marathoner encourages journaling and self-reflection. He writes: “You picked up this book for a reason, and I would like you to think about exactly what that reason was.” When he read his first “quit alcohol book it was because I had become sick and tired of the hangovers … the whole routine associated with drinking every day.” Chapple is also the author of “The Sober Survival Guide” and regularly dispenses motivation to his 11,000 followers on Instagram: @besoberandquit.