Quit Lit has emerged as a response to the growing need for narratives that address addiction and recovery. With raw and honest experiences, exposing their struggles, relapses, and triumphs, books on addiction are a great companion for you or your loved one to feel less alone in the ups and downs of recovery from addiction.

Here’s a list of some of the best books to read when getting sober, whether you’re going through sobriety yourself or supporting a loved one’s journey. 

Books with a Scientific and Guide-like Approach

Quit Lit has a wide range of options. Your next quit-lit pic depends on what you’re looking for during your recovery. If you’re looking for descriptions, reasonings, and arguments with scientific and psychological approaches, these books can help.

1. “Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism” by Katherine Ketcham and William F. Asbury

Katherine Ketcham is an already-known author for her best-selling book “Under the Influence.” She specializes in addiction recovery, and in “Beyond the Influence,” the author teamed up with William F. Asbury, an experienced journalist and recovered alcoholic, to talk about alcoholism as a severe disease.

With the latest scientific research, the author explains the neurological nature of alcoholism and ways to treat it correctly. The book includes steps to take for an intervention and psychological approaches to the need for spiritual perspectives and new insights to prevent relapse.

“Beyond the Influence” works as an updated and comprehensive guide to understand alcoholism as a severe disease and take the needed steps to overcome it.

2. “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction” by Gabor Maté

Dr. Gabor Maté is a Canadian physician and author interested in childhood development, trauma, and potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health caused by autoimmune diseases and addictions.

The book, published in 2018, discusses various aspects of alcoholism, such as stories, studies, research, and arguments. It explores different types of alcoholics and addicts, ranging from homeless drug addicts to workaholics.

This book gives a professional perspective on how addictive tendencies arise in the parts of our brains since childhood and how they develop during the individual’s life. It can be a match to those patients mired in addictive patterns and are trying to understand them.

3. “The Big Book” by Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous’s “Big Book” presents the A.A. program for recovery from alcoholism. The “Big Book” was primarily written by William G. Wilson, one of the organization’s founding members. It’s designed to be a fundamental treatise on how to achieve recovery from alcohol addiction.

“Big Book” describes the 12-step program, a series of steps applied to individuals looking to recover from addiction and maintain sobriety.

With numerous chapters describing each step and personal stories of alcoholics and their recovery experiences, the Big Book has received multiple accolades. It’s the backbone of AA meetings, one of the bestselling books of all time, and designated as one of the most influential books written in English by TIME Magazine.

4. “Alcohol Explained” by William Porter

Although the author takes a scientific approach to discussing alcohol addiction, William Porter recognizes addictive patterns from experience. 

By experiencing alcoholism from a young age and beating it during adulthood, Porter breaks down the chemistry behind alcoholism in an easy-to-understand format. This book helps readers understand the relationship with alcohol and why it persists despite the psychological and physiological effects on the body and mind.

“Alcohol Explained” is clear, objective, rational, and non-judgmentalnot judgmental. It aims to educate its readers without trying to control or outsmart them. The Goodreads reviews highlight how safe and held the readers felt with his book and how much they appreciated the shared experiences of the author since they helped them to trust him with the subject.

Books about Memoirs and Journals

Sometimes, you don’t need an explanation of what’s going on. Maybe reading about someone who’s been feeling like you or your loved one is more fulfilling. Knowing you haven’t been the only one struggling on their way to sobriety feels like a pat on the back. 

5. “Dry: A Memoir” by Augusten Burroughs

“Dry” is the memoir of American author Augusteen Burroughs. Set as a dark comedy, the author details his long and painful road from addiction to sobriety.

When he starts getting into trouble at work because of drunkenness, he schedules a stay at Proud Institute, a recovery clinic in Minnesota. During this time, he reflects on the possible causes of his alcoholism: the aesthetics of the drinking experience, a popular culture that normalizes the addiction, and his childhood traumas.

Although the author shows a disclaimer because of the “imaginative re-creation,” the book offers an unflinching look into the struggle of the destructive world of alcoholism and emotional trauma and the eventual triumph over it.

6. “Nothing Good Can Come from This: Essays” by Kristi Coulter

“Nothing Good Can Come from This” is a series of essays by Kristi Coulter. They are connected by the author’s transition from addiction to sobriety. From a very human yet hilarious perspective, Kristi tells how giving up a habit is like giving up a debilitating habit that leaves space for other things.

An Empty Mirror review qualifies this book as “A scathing, stripped down look at her own issues and how she used alcohol to bury them, forget them, and sometimes fuel them. It’s never less than brutally honest, frequently funny, and just about everything you want from reflective non-fiction.”

7. “The Sober Diaries: How One Woman Stopped Drinking and Started Living” by Clare Pooley

Clare Pooley is a British blogger, author, and novelist. She started her secret identity blog, “Mummy Was a Secret Drinker,” which had more than three million visits. Then, she published her memoir “The Sober Diaries” in 2017, telling the story of many modern women: the struggle of handling a family and a successful job.

When Pooley leaves her successful role as a Managing Partner in one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies to look after her family, she finds herself in a complex wine addiction that leads to overweight and depression. While caring for her three children, she often Googled “Am I an alcoholic?”.

Pooley begins her alcohol-free life when she decides to fight against her diagnosed breast cancer. This book offers a relatable perspective of living sober, with questions like “How will I cope at parties?” or “What if my partner still drinks?”.

8. “Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget” by Sarah Hepola

Hepola experienced her first taste of alcohol when she was seven years old. She sought consolation and confidence in the substance through high school and college. During her adulthood, alcohol became “the gasoline of all adventure” until she started experiencing blackouts more often.

This memoir is the story of how the author enters the sobriety life. Here, she discovers how she tried to bury herself with alcohol and deconstructed the belief that her confidence, intimacy, and creativity came from a bottle. This memoir is for anyone who can relate to reinventing or struggling in the face of necessary change.

The Bottom Line

Knowing about different perspectives of sobriety can profoundly impact your or your loved one’s journey to sobriety. Whether you choose a book with a scientific approach or a funny or raw memoir, Quit Lit can offer hope, guidance, and relatable experiences, encouraging individuals to take that first step or continue staying sober.

Remember, if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, seek help. Contact an addiction specialist or talk to your primary care physician about substance use. Recovery from addiction can seem impossible until you take the first step.