The Best Addiction Memoirs for the Sober Curious

From rock bottom to recovery, these books tell the true stories of people who turned their lives around in the most spectacular fashion.

A collage of book covers
Sobriety is having a moment. Courtesy the publishers

Sober celebrities, reality stars in rehab and the sudden ubiquity of mocktail recipes… the culture is shifting, and abstinence is in. Peak Covid saw people giving into excess where alcohol was concerned, and the rise of sobriety following the pandemic seems straight out of a ‘nature is healing’ meme. The ‘sober curious‘ movement has spawned non-alcoholic bars in cities as different as Nashville and New York, zero-proof liquors and a whole lot of memoirs written by addicts in recovery.

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Below are fifteen incredible books by drinkers who battled alcohol addiction and lived to tell the tale. Tragic, inspiring, humorous and heart-wrenching—these true accounts of the struggle for sobriety will move you and maybe inspire you to see what the sober life is all about.

Drunk–ish by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

‘Drunk-ish.’ Simon & Schuster

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor has always had a complicated relationship with alcohol. From typical teenage experimentation to booze-fueled nights as a stand-up comedian, the author of Sippy Cups Aren’t For Chardonnay begins to seriously examine her dependency on alcohol when the challenges of motherhood, career and balancing it all become so overwhelming she does something she never thought she would do.

Wasted by Michael Pond and Maureen Palmer

‘Wasted.’ Greystone Books

Michael Pond has treated people with addiction for years as a psychotherapist but finds himself homeless, broke and alone when he succumbs to his own battle with alcohol use disorder. Raw and real, Pond’s bok shows how he uncovers a new path to recovery outside the traditional abstinence-based programs with the help of his partner, Maureen Palmer. The result is a new, science-based approach to treating and managing addiction.

Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon

‘Glorious Rock Bottom.’ Headline Publishing Group

With a reputation for hilarious honesty, as read in previous memoirs detailing her struggles with everything from mental illness to single life, Bryony Gordon is true to form in this detailed account of her alcohol-fueled downward spiral. Bryony puts her family, career and future at risk before a stint in rehab, loads of AA meetings and self-discovery help her to become a mother, partner and person she can be proud of.

I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You by Mishka Shubaly

‘I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You.’ PublicAffairs

Divorce, abandonment, foreclosure and a mass shooting… Mishka Shubaly had plenty of reasons to wallow in drink and drugs, and he does so with wild abandon in I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You. His first full-length memoir follows him from a seemingly endless rock bottom to a passion for running that leads him out of a life of self-destruction and chaos. It’s an inspiring and, at times, unbelievable tale told with unflinching honesty and a heavy dose of self-deprecation.

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

‘Open Book.’ HarperCollins

Jessica Simpson takes you through her childhood, fame, Nick Lachey, celebrity dates, marriage and motherhood, building up to her shocking admission: “I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills.” Jessica humbly recounts reaching for vodka first thing in the morning, drinking when she should have been enjoying time with her children and sobering up just before an intervention planned by friends and family. Surprisingly revealing for a life played on reality television and magazines, Open Book is a testament to W. S. Gilbert’s words, “Things are seldom what they seem.”

Straight Pepper Diet by Joseph W. Naus

‘Straight Pepper Diet.’ Killer McMillan Publishing LLC

Joseph Naus beats the odds by overcoming a difficult childhood and becoming a successful civil trial lawyer. Still, his insatiable desire for alcohol and sex upends his entire life on one fateful night. Here, Naus recounts jail time, an attempted murder charge and an uphill battle to reclaim a life nearly lost to the stranglehold of addiction in this outrageous memoir.

Lit by Mary Karr

‘Lit.’ Harper Perennial

Best-selling memoirist Mary Karr longs for the family and stability that eluded her in childhood. When she marries and becomes a mother, she finds that with so much to lose, she still cannot control her drive to drink. A car accident, the slow and painful unraveling of her marriage, a stay in a mental hospital and an eventual spiritual awakening finally free Karr from the substance that nearly took her life.

Mrs. D is Going Without by Lotta Dann

‘Mrs D is Going Without.’ Allen & Unwin

Functioning and fun-loving, this author’s love for wine hardly seems like a problem until her attempt to cut back proves much more challenging than she had imagined. She begins to share her attempts to sober up anonymously online and ends up finding support, community, and the strength to battle her addiction in the most unlikely of places.

Alcohol Lied to Me by Craig Beck

‘Alcohol Lied to Me.’

Beck is a loving husband, father, and respected business owner who drinks two bottles of wine a night. Unwilling to call himself an alcoholic, he tries everything to curb his drinking without success. Determined to get clean, Beck develops a unique approach to sobriety that changes the trajectory of his life. Part memoir and part how-to, many former drinkers credit Alcohol Lied to Me with helping them to finally beat the bottle.

Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife by Brenda Wilhelmson

‘Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife.’ Hazelden Publishing

Brenda Wilhelmson seems like a typical housewife. She looks after her children, enjoys drinks with friends, and is a successful writer. But she recognizes her relationship with alcohol is different than that of the casual-drinking moms in her friend group. When she realizes sobriety is her only path forward, she keeps a diary of her road to recovery, from finding a sponsor to discovering a new social life not centered around alcohol. Wilhelmson’s story proves that alcoholism can take many forms.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

‘Dry.’ Picador Publishing

Burroughs thought he was managing to keep it all together as a suit-wearing, hard-partying Manhattanite until he landed in rehab at the bequest of his employers. With the same wit and candor found in his other popular works, we follow the writer from a rehab reality check back to the bustling city, where he must learn to navigate life on the wagon.

Drunkard by Neil Steinberg

‘Drunkard.’ Penguin Random House

Neil Steinberg’s life is nothing unusual—father, husband, and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. Sure, he enjoys drinking, but it’s nothing he can’t manage; after all, he’s been doing it most of his life. Then, the unthinkable: Steinberg slaps his wife after a long day of boozing, followed by jail and a mandatory twenty-eight days of rehab. A life without alcohol feels unfathomable until he realizes he could lose the one thing he can’t live without.

Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska

‘Drunk Mom.’ Penguin

Three years sober, Jowita Bydlowska celebrates the birth of her first child with a glass of champagne, and just like that, she is spiraling back into the life of drinking she thought she had escaped. Bydlowska depicts life as a new mom while under the influence with honesty and humility, discovering she can overcome the seemingly impossible for her child.

Blackout by Sarah Hepola

‘Blackout.’ Grand Central Publishing

Sarah Hepola is genuinely proud of her drinking. She has a high tolerance and never gets sick or passes out. The only problem is she blacks out. Hepola spends hungover mornings piecing together the missing hours of the nights before and frequently wakes up with unrecognizable men in unfamiliar places. She eventually realizes a life of forgotten times and missing memories is no life at all, and she sets out to find her identity outside of drinking.

Drinking by Caroline Knapp

‘Drinking.’ The Dial Press

From her excessive drinking and smoking to disordered eating and falling for the wrong men, Caroline Knapp is seemingly attracted to anything and everything that isn’t good for her. She drinks to cope with life’s difficulties, like the death of her parents, but it’s only after twenty years of dependency that she sees how the “cure” to her stress and anxiety is the real problem.

The Best Addiction Memoirs for the Sober Curious