John Barleycorn, or, Alcoholic memoirs by Jack London by London, Jack 1876-1916: 1914 First Edition MW Books Ltd.

Only a handful of the addiction memoirs of recent decades are also, in my view, singular works of art. For me the essential works are Permanent Midnight (1995) by Jerry Stahl , The Los Angeles Diaries (2003) by James Brown, The Outrun (2015) by Amy Liptrot, Lit (2019) by Mary Karr and Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man (2010) by Bill Clegg. When she was drunk, writer and editor Hepola was a creative force. But she was also reckless, often finding herself soberly apologizing for things she didn’t remember doing, waking up next to men she didn’t remember meeting and caring for bruises she didn’t remember getting. Subtitled “Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget,” Hepola’s debut memoir is a vulnerable story about refocusing her attention from finding her next drink to learning how to love herself without liquid enhancements.

alcoholic memoirs

That siren song eventually led to broadcast journalist Elizabeth Vargas to admit her addiction on national television. Hoping to make her dreams a reality, Michelle Tea recounts her awkward attempts to gain literary fame as she smokes, drinks, and snorts her way through San Francisco. She begins to slowly grow into a healthy, reasonable, self-aware, and stable adult. Her passionate writing shines as she tells of her often difficult relationship with money, her relationships, and more. To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.

Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir by Lisa F. Smith

This is just how it has always been since her introduction to Southern Comfort when she was just fourteen. Especially not when you’re a crucial part of the cultural phenomenon called Star Wars. Things get even more interesting when you have to do all this while battling manic depression, addiction, and visiting all sorts of mental institutions as a result.

Allen’s story of being a young woman in a teenage marriage that eventually runs away to Cincinnati, where she begins the destructive pattern of weekend partying and drinking, is a powerful tale. Eventually, she finds sobriety through a commitment to God and humanity to spend the rest of her life doing anything she can to help anybody suffering from alcoholism. Her timeless tale is a powerful one, and definitely one that needs to be read by all.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober: Discovering a Happy, Healthy, Wealthy Alcohol-Free Life by Catherine Gray

The Drinker by Hans Fallada is an autobiographical narrative of the derailment of a successful businessman, starting with a financial disaster and ending in a psychiatric institution. If I have any faith now, it’s in literature’s ability to help us redeem even life’s darkest realities by bringing them into the light. Second, they contain sections describing the lurid drama and dreadful effects of addiction in unsparing detail. Unvarnished accounts of the havoc and disaster of addiction, whether played for farce or pathos, are as reliably found in the most artistically ambitious addiction memoirs as in the least. Meanwhile the reader is tacitly licensed to enjoy all this mayhem and calamity with a degree of voyeuristic relish and, equally, to take a vicarious pleasure in the author’s recklessness and transgression. In her early 20s, writer Jamison (The Empathy Exams) started drinking daily to ease her chronic shyness and deal with the stress of getting her master’s degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

alcoholic memoirs

The Empathy Exams author’s stunning book juxtaposes her own relationship to addiction with stories of literary legends like Raymond Carver, and imbues it with rich cultural history. The result is a definitive treatment of the American recovery movement—a memoir in the subgenre like no other. Although previous literary history had portrayed a number of addicts, only a very small number could be found outside fiction—although some well known examples were only fictional in a nominal sense.

John Barleycorn, or, Alcoholic memoirs / by Jack London

Caroline Knapp was a columnist for the Boston Pheonix when she chose to get treatment. Knapp’s soul-baring memoir details her over 20 years as a high-functioning alcoholic, seemingly holding it together and doing well in her career and her life on the outside, and secretly using alcohol to numb everything behind closed doors. 6
authors picked
Running with Scissors
as one of their favorite books, and they share
why you should read it. 10
authors picked
Bird by Bird
as one of their favorite books, and they share
why you should read it. 12
authors picked
The Glass Castle
as one of their favorite books, and they share
why you should read it. Jeannette Walls tells a story of her early childhood growing up in a highly dysfunctional family with parents who are free spirits doing what makes each of them happy at the moment.

When we aren’t posting here, we build programs to help people quit drinking. This a different memoir because it focuses not on the road to sobriety, but on what happens with your life now that you’ve done the thing that once seemed impossible. She had already beat alcohol in the past and there was nothing wrong with celebrating the birth of her child with some champagne, right? Beneath her perfect life and incredible success hides a girl who thought she had cheated her way out of her anxiety and stress via alcohol, but now has completely surrendered to the powers of this magical liquid. You could never tell, but she is the perfect example of a high-functioning alcoholic who looks like everything is perfect, even when it clearly isn’t. She’s just someone who uses alcohol to muster up courage, and well, survive life.

I found this book uncomfortable at times and very funny at other times. It is the real deal and Cat is a talented writer, but most of all a survivor. He comes from the book publishing world and, again, was someone who was successful and smart, but in active addiction. He lost trust of people around him and in his field, but through sobriety he has been able to regain that trust and help many people along the way. Terry achieved long-term sobriety at one time, and she helped many women.

Her father promises her that someday, he will build her a glass castle on the beach. She dreams of this beautiful home, but throughout the years, she and her siblings are homeless and learn to care for themselves while their parents take off for places unknown. She teaches life lessons of resilience, redemption, and forgiveness that have stayed with me for a very long time.

Shazia Omar on Drug Addiction Books

Instead she presents herself as a kind of Godly schmuck, chronically slow on the spiritual uptake. For readers who’ve followed her over three searingly honest books, where survival let alone redemption often seemed unlikely, her final discovery of a bruised and hard-won peace feels like an instance of what can only be called grace. The second major problem for anyone writing an addiction memoir—and it’s often connected to the first—is how to conclude it. Only in rare cases—as when the subject of a biography dies—is the answer simple. In other kinds, as in novels, endings are artifices of form, and the trick is not to let this feel true for the reader. But the challenge is particularly acute when the story is about a life that, as the reader well knows, has simply gone on and on beyond the final page.

It’s a testament to how one moment, completely out of our control, can drastically change our lives. In this book, celebrated journalist Anne Dowsett Johnston intuitively intertwines her own life story of alcohol use disorder with some great in-depth research and relevant interviews. Her book includes the perspective of those leading the charge in this field, shedding some much-needed light on this crisis and the factors that have contributed to it. More than a journey through addiction and recovery from it, this is a tale about how trauma shapes us, and how we can only free ourselves from its hold by facing it. Mary Karr is known for her wit and charming style, and in these pages, she discusses pretty much all her life struggles, not only those with alcohol. This memoir is poetic and a treat for lovers of beautiful writing.

Lit: A Memoir

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. Unexplained men and bruises best alcohol recovery books the next morning are only a few of the unremembered experiences Sarah Hepola recalls in this honest, raw, poignant memoir. Finding that her creativity didn’t come from a bottle, she gets sober and finds a life she didn’t know she wanted. More than a journey through addiction and recovery though, this is a tale about how trauma shapes us and how we can only free ourselves by facing it.

  • Decades later, Cat reminisces about those days with Marlena and learns to forgive herself and move on from those days.
  • Journalist Jenny Valentish takes a gendered look at drugs and alcohol, using her own story to light the way.
  • This is just how it has always been since her introduction to Southern Comfort when she was fourteen.
  • Clare Pooley’s “Sober Diaries” details one woman’s realization that her alcohol habit was putting her life and her children at risk.

Author: Nancy Proctor

Nancy Proctor is Chief Strategy Officer and founding Executive Director of The Peale, Baltimore's Community Museum, based in the first purpose-built museum in the U.S. Previously, Nancy was Deputy Director of Digital Experience and Communications at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2014-2016), Head of Mobile Strategy and Initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution (2010-2014), and Head of New Media Initiatives at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum (2008-2010). With a PhD in American art history and a background in filmmaking, curation and feminist theory and criticism in the arts, Nancy lectures and publishes widely on technology and innovation in museums, in French and Italian as well as English. She edited Mobile Apps for Museums: The AAM Guide to Planning and Strategy in 2010, and coordinated the publication of Inclusive Digital Interactives: Best Practices + Research for MuseWeb with Access Smithsonian and the Institute for Human Centered Design in 2020. Nancy served as Co-chair of the international MuseWeb (formerly Museums and the Web) Conferences with Rich Cherry, and edited its annual proceedings from 2012-2020. Nancy created her first online exhibition in 1995 and went on to publish the New Art CD-ROM and website of contemporary art – a first in the UK – in 1996. She co-founded in 1998 with Titus Bicknell to present virtual tours of innovative exhibitions alongside comprehensive global museum and gallery listings. TheGalleryChannel was later acquired by Antenna Audio, where Nancy led New Product Development from 2000-2008, introducing the company’s multimedia, sign language, downloadable, podcast and cellphone tours. She also directed Antenna’s sales in France from 2006-2007, and was part of the Travel Channel’s product development team 2007-2008. As program chair Nancy led the development of the Museums Computer Network (MCN) conference programs 2010-2011, and co-organized the Tate Handheld conference 2008 & 2010 with Jane Burton. She started the MuseumMobile wiki and podcast series in 2008, was Digital Editor of Curator: The Museum Journal from 2009-2014, and is now on the Journal's editorial board, as well as on the Board of Directors of the Omnimuseum Project.