This month in review: Quit-Lit

Though I did finish a couple of other books, this month was a big one for quit-lit around my house, with my tally coming in at a full seven read. I enjoyed some more than others, but learned something from them all. Here they are, with thoughts, in the order read:

This Naked Mind, by Annie Grace (format: Audio). I actually began listening to this one back in November, when I first started flirting with the idea of getting sober, but didn’t finish it until the first week in December so it counts. I will admit that it’s been in my Audible library for like four years and I’d never made it past the first chapter or two before rolling my eyes and getting out. Reminds me of Allan Carr’s Easy Way books, but with more research into the science of addiction. I didn’t abhor alcohol by the end of it, but I do feel like it was what I needed to get some momentum built up right out of the gate. There used to be a free pdf floating around /r/stopdrinking (provided by Annie herself) so you may want to look for that before you buy.

Alcohol Explained, by William Porter (format: Audio). I queued this one up as soon as I finished This Naked Mind, since my brain was still too wet to make sense of words on the page, and listened to it a lot while cooking, in the shower, and as I fell asleep. He’s kind of doing the same thing — de/re-programming your warm-fuzzy thoughts and beliefs about alcohol — that Grace, Carr, and Craig Beck do in their writing. I did get shitfaced twice while listening to it, though that probably says more about me than the book. It was a good hairshirt to put on, during a hangover-penance.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, by Catherine Gray (format: Print). A pretty light read, and exactly what I needed to start off with as far as sitting still long enough to read an actual fucking book went. Started it because I happened to have it lying around from an aborted attempt about a year ago to join the /r/stopdrinking book club. Gray writes like the magazine editor she is, and the format really works for this. I found her likeable, familiar, and fun. She would have been my drunk best friend in a heartbeat and I audibly cheered for her when she got sober, because I know exactly what it cost.

The Sober Diaries, by Clare Pooley (format: Print). Another light read, again, exactly what I needed to start off with. Came as a bundle on Amazon with This Naked Mind and a TUJoBS (see above) Journal. Clare is, really, to blame for this blog, since blogging is how she got sober herself. I found myself thinking: fuck yeah, now that’s a higher power I can get behind. I also found myself thinking: is current quit-lit all female? Will a male voice be welcome in the sober-sphere? Is there a place for me out there? As a work-from-home parent I really identified with her particular struggles, gender be damned.

Nothing Good Can Come From This, by Kristi Coulter (format: Print). Without a doubt my favorite read this month, Coulter writes compellingly about the ups and downs of her sobriety in a series of essays that maintain a trendy lit-journal vibe that is never judgey, preachy, or dishonest. I finished it in an afternoon. I laughed, I cried, I empathized. And I plan to read it again. If you get nothing else from this blog, get this book.

Recovery: Finding Freedom From Our Addictions, by Russell Brand (format: Print). This one felt like it took forever to finish. I got to chapter 7/13 and thought, fuck me, how long have I been reading this book? Went back to my planner and it had been about three days. Felt like a week at least. An f-bomb-laden philosophy of AA interspersed with bits of memoir, it’s a little more dense than the rest of the reads, and if I had realized it was AA-centric I probably would have skipped it despite the glowing terms I’ve heard it described in. Brand is a smart guy, I’ll hand him that, and AA seems to have really worked for him, since he logged about 14 years sober as of the writing. There’s a lot of good writing in the book, I just had a hard time accessing some of it because it ultimately felt to me like an ad for AA. I would recommend this one to the type of person who thinks AA isn’t for them due to religion, personality, or creed, but who needs to go anyway for whatever reason. If I were doing AA instead of (or concurrently with) IOP at the treatment center then I’d want to give it a once-over and then refer back to particular chapters as I completed my step-work.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir, by Haruki Murakami (format: Print). This is another one that I’ve had lying around for a few years, collecting dust next to my desk since I blew out my ankle and gave up working out (and being sober) in 2016. I bought it because I thought I’d heard that Murakami had gotten sober running, but when he mentions having a beer with dinner at the beginning of the second essay I started doubting myself. I was enjoying it, though, so I continued to read anyway. He does say he cut back on alcohol (and rice) when he started running, and he completely quit smoking, so I must have been conflating the two. Definitely worth reading if you run, write, or have a dream of ever doing either, just know that it isn’t directly related to sobriety.

So that’s that for me. What about you? Read anything good lately?

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