Books

Women who quit: 5 inspiring reads for the sober curious, and those aiming for a healthier New Year

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Anna Brech
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Want to cut back on your drinking in the New Year? Draw inspiration with our pick of raw, funny and moving quit lit memoirs to get you started on a life less boozy.

Improved sleepBetter mental health. Fewer mood swings. Younger skin

The health benefits of cutting down on alcohol are well-documented – and yet, we’re boozing more than ever right now. The stress of this year is driving home our dependence on all things wine and spirits, with studies finding a direct link between binge drinking and lockdown

So how to make the leap of faith off this toxic merry-go-round? 

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Whether you’re planning on quitting completely or simply want to rein things in, good role models are really helpful. 

We want stories from women like us, who have been there with a similar struggle and have lived to tell the tale. More importantly, we need living proof that boozing less is not only good to do – it can be fun, too, with a raft of feel-good benefits.

From gritty memoirs to practical guides, here are five great books to get you started on your journey to a less drunk you, for a healthier New Year. We’ll cheers (with cranberry juice) to that. 

Glass Half Full by Lucy Rocca

Like many of us, Soberistas founder Lucy Rocca didn’t consider herself an alcoholic. Instead, she was a heavy drinker; someone who was the life and soul of the party, but who had her life in check. One night in 2011, however, she ends up being taken to hospital after collapsing outside her home in Sheffield – and it’s that moment that pushes her to give up booze for good. 

It’s only after quitting (and after getting over the shock of never being able to drink again) that Lucy is able to see its life-changing advantages. Glass Half Full is a tribute to these positive changes told in diary-style format; from fresh energy and improved mood to a huge surge in creativity.

Read it here

Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget by Sarah Hepola

Writer Sarah Hepola once made something of an art form out of drinking; her life was filled with crazy tales of waking up next to strangers and doing a live comedy gig in front of thousands while three sheets to the wind. There’s only one problem: she can never remember what happened in these episodes, because she’s always blackout drunk.

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Irreverent, funny and often alarming, Sarah’s reflections of her times spent in blackout will ring true for many women who’ve lived life on the edge in their 20s and 30s. Her journey to drying out is the most eye-opening part of the tale, though, as she courageously comes face-to-face with the demons of her past. 

Read it here

The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober by Catherine Gray

Lifestyle journalist Catherine Gray see alcoholism as a sliding scale – you don’t have to wait until you’re at rock bottom (as she did) to step off and try something different. Though the book deals briefly with Catherine’s descent into dependence, it largely focuses on the benefits she’s found since going without.

Dealing with issues such as how to party sober and coping techniques for your first month of no drinking, The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober is packed with feel-good tips.

Read it here

Drunk Mom by   Jowita Bydlowska

Alcoholism often intersects with other major life events or issues – and Jowita Bydlowska’s vividly-told story is a case in point. When Jowita becomes a mum for the first time, the emotional rollercoaster of new parenthood collides with an age-old addiction she thought she’d put to rest. 

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Drunk Mom is a frank, eye-opening tale that beautifully brings to life the shame and denial that many dependent drinkers (especially women) feel at the eye of the storm. 

Read it here

Girl Walks Out Of A Bar by Lisa Smith

By parts hilarious and moving, Lisa Smith’s memoir marks her slide into alcoholism as a high-flying New York City lawyer. Lisa works long, punishing hours as one of the city’s brightest legal minds – but her workaholism is mirrored by an equally unhealthy addiction to wine and cocaine. 

As her relationships around her buckle under the strain, Lisa’s career promotions just keep coming; but her “success” is propped up by a 24/7 booze habit. A great snapshot of the contrast that exists between how we present to the world, and what’s really going on within. 

Read it here

Images: Getty, Instagram

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.