by Callie S.
The season of Lent began on February 17th and is generally a time of reflection and sacrifice. Although historically observed by Christians, many secular individuals have joined in the Lenten holiday, which is commemorated by choosing to go without one of life’s pleasures for some 40 plus days. Unsurprisingly, alcohol is one of the main things people choose to forego.
Whether you consider yourself a moderate drinker or a bit of a lush, it’s an excellent time to flex your sober muscles. Quit lit, a genre about people giving up primarily drugs and alcohol, is a good way to help you stick to your Lenten goals. Instead of reaching for that glass of wine, pick up one of these instead.
Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Scoblic. This is the first quit lit book I ever read. I loved Scoblic’s glamorous life as a writer in D.C. and that made her inevitable fall and redemption that much more rewarding to read. Scoblic is one of the many sober people I’ve read about who become long distance runners as well, a commonality I find particularly fascinating.
This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness and Change Your Life by Annie Grace. Grace explores how we become addicted and what alcohol does in the brain. Even more importantly, Grace gives those struggling with alcohol addiction the tools to understand on a cognitive level that alcohol does nothing for us. She takes a lot of her research from Allan Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, but builds on her own experiences with alcohol. She hints in the beginning that you can moderate after reading her book, but by the book’s end you find out that no, you really can’t, according to Grace.
Quit Like a Woman: the Radical Choice Not to Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker. Whitaker not only talks her own personal struggles with alcohol and the biology of addiction, she also explores how women have been targeted by “big alcohol.” I especially enjoyed her thoughts on AA. She goes against the grain of “one day at a time” by substituting her personal empowering statement of “never question the decision.” This book was the most unique and “radical” book on sobriety I’ve read.
We are the Luckiest: the Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen. McKowen is probably the most gifted author on the list and the beauty she finds on the other side of alcohol is remarkable. Of course, the ugliness in her life while drinking is probably the most horrifying of all the memoirs on this list, so be prepared. There aren’t any zany and funny stories about her drinking days. There are stories about her leaving her 4 year old daughter unattended while hooking up with a stranger at a wedding.
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. This book is unique in that it spends equal time with the author before and after sobriety. This book was the most compelling of the memoirs because Hepola is the most like me. Alcohol makes her creative and more fun, not mean and disorderly. She doesn’t have abuse to forget or post-traumatic stress disorder. Hepola is a girl who just started drinking one day and never really needed to stop, until she did.
The Good House by Ann Leary. Set in a small Massachusetts town, the protagonist struggles with her growing and secret dependence on wine. This work of fiction examines why we drink, why we hide, and what it ultimately takes to get sober. I listened to this one and I can’t recommend the audio version highly enough.
Nothing Good Can Come from This: Essays by Kristi Coulter. I thoroughly enjoyed Coulter’s intimate essays. She helped me wake up to how common it is for women to encourage other women to drink. When did skinning your knee at 10 am become an excuse for a midmorning glass of rose? Coulter’s been there, and her poignant essays are never preachy.
The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun: This series based on a coffee-swilling reporter and his crime-solving cat isn’t really about sobriety. However, the main character is sober and I like how deftly Braun incorporates that into the books without putting a spotlight on it. It’s about a man who happens to be sober, not about a sober man.
Anyone who drinks on a regular basis can learn from the above mentioned books, even if you don’t identify yourself as an alcoholic or someone with a drinking problem. I personally like to keep tabs on my relationship with alcohol and regularly reading books like these helps me do that. The biggest reason I read quit lit is because it’s always a story about the most fascinating conflict on earth: man versus himself.