29 Best Books About Alcohol Recovery

As you embark on a sobriety or moderation journey, building a toolkit to keep you motivated and inspired can help you reach your goals. Recovery-related books, AKA ‘quit lit,’ can be great for seeing how others have navigated similar experiences, gaining tips that can help you along your journey, and learning more about the science behind substance use. Not sure what to pick up first? Here are my 29 favorite books related to alcohol recovery. 

29 Best Books About Alcohol Recovery

Biographies, Memoirs, & ‘Quit Lit’
1.
A Happier Hour by Rebecca Weller
2. Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas
3. Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome
4. Nothing Good Can Come From This by Kristi Coulter
5. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
6. We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen 
7. The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley
8. Healing Neen: One Woman’s Path to Salvation from Trauma and Addiction by Tonier Cain 
9. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
10. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Best Non-Fiction Books About Alcohol Recovery
11. Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker
12. Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston
13. The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease by Mark Lewis
14. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté
15. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
16. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

‘How To’ Books & Guides
17. The Easy Way to Control Alcohol by Allen Carr
18. Not Drinking Tonight: A Guide to Creating a Sober Life You Love by Amanda E. White
19. The Sober Lush: A Hedonist Guide to Living a Decadent, Adventurous, Soulful Life–Alcohol Free by Amanda Eyre Ward and Jardine Libaire
20. The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month by Hilary Sheinbaum
21. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
22. Tired of Thinking about Drinking: Take My 100 Day Sober Challenge by Belle Roberson

Coffee Table Books, Mocktail Cart Decor, & Recipe Books
23. Good Drinks: For Those Who Aren’t Drinking, for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge
24. Mocktail Party: 75 Plant-Based, Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Every Occasion by Kerry Benson and Diana Licalzi

Best Books Related to Healing and Mental Health 
25. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab
26. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday 
27. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown
28. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
29. The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

Man reading book in the park

Biographies, Memoirs, & Quit Lit


1. A Happier Hour by Rebecca Weller

After finishing A Happier Hour, the bar was set high for future reads (no pun intended). Weller has a relatable story for any high-achiever who finds themselves with boozy, foggy evenings that turn into hangovers the next morning. Written with raw vulnerability, the pages of this book are filled with an honest look at her own relationship to alcohol. Reading this book was the beginning of a new perspective for me. It got me thinking the one thing I never wanted to be true… maybe it is the alcohol that’s making me so miserable? That started my path towards eventual freedom from alcohol. 

2. Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas

A captivating story of a highly accomplished well-known professional in the spotlight who was brave enough to share her story. Elizabeth Vargas takes off her perfectly poised reporter mask and shows you the authentic person behind the anchor desk. Her book is courageous, informative, and honest. She shares her personal lifelong struggle with anxiety, which led to excessive substance use, rehab, and her ultimate triumph into recovery.

3. Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome

Punch Me Up to the Gods is a beautifully written series of personal essays that describe Brian Broome’s experience growing up Black and queer in Ohio, and the effect early substance use had on his upbringing. This book tells an incredible story of not only recovery, but also how it connects to race and sexual identity. 

4. Nothing Good Can Come From This by Kristi Coulter

This is a lesser known series of essays on the intersection of alcohol and womanhood. The author, Kristi Coulter, engages the reader with her deep insight and quick wit. This combination makes her story heartening, funny, and thought-provoking at the same time. Coulter shares her struggles with alcohol use and also the challenges of getting sober. She leaves off the sugar coating. This is a very refreshing book in the world of recovery memoirs. 

5. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray

This is one of the best memoirs on alcohol recovery in my opinion. Catherine is approachable in her voice. She highlights not only her relationship to alcohol, but also key takeaways from her many attempts to get sober. Reading her book is like sharing a cup of coffee with your wise best friend. You want to hold her hand, but also take notes. She’s brilliant in writing and shares many actionable tips and strategies. 

6. We are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen

Reading We are the Luckiest by Laura McKowen can quite possibly save your life. For anyone hiding in the shadows of shame, this book is a guiding light. We Are the Luckiest is both poetic and gut-wrenching. But the ending (spoiler alert), is ultimately triumphant. For every parent riddled with guilt, for anyone waking up in the shame cave (again), for every person who has had a messy struggle forward towards redemption… this book is for you.

7. The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley

I will read anything Clare Pooley writes simply because she is a magical storyteller. The Sober Diaries is one of the best books in the quit lit category. Funny, informative, and authentic, Poole has a welcoming light-hearted voice on the very serious topic of substance use. This book serves as a beacon to anyone who’s looking to change their relationship with alcohol. 

8. Healing Neen: One Woman’s Path to Salvation from Trauma and Addiction by Tonier Cain

This powerful memoir follows Cain’s life as she navigates a substance use disorder, incarceration, and sex work over the course of 19 years. Healing Neen provides a personal look into the connection between incarceration, substance use, and trauma. Her story is a beautiful reminder of how safety and support can lead the way to incredible healing. 

9. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

This book takes you along for a party girl thrill ride. Sarah Hepola doesn’t hold back. She is sincere in her recollection of rarely discussed painful topics like childhood drinking, alcohol and sexual consent, and the ending of friendship. To quote Hepola, “One of the great powers we have is the ability to give meaning to our own experience. It’s a fine day when you finally figure out the right time to leave the party.”

10. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

A 1996 bestseller, Caroline Knapp paints a vivid picture of substance use and recovery that every reader can appreciate, whether you struggle with substance use or not. Knapp writes elegantly about her 20+ years of ‘high-functioning drinking’. Winning career accolades by day and drinking at night, Knapp brings you to the netherworld of alcohol use disorder.  

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Best Non-Fiction Books About Alcohol Recovery


11. Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker

Quit Like a Woman takes a groundbreaking look at America’s obsession with alcohol. It explores how society’s perception and targeted marketing campaigns keeps groups of people down while simultaneously putting money into “Big Alcohol’s” pockets. Whitaker’s book offers a road map of non-traditional options for recovery. It is well-researched, educational, informative, and at times mind-blowing. You can’t unlearn the things Whitaker shares. She writes with deep emotion even when sharing factual research. This is a must read for anyone passionate about exploring their relationship with alcohol and the role a patriarchal system has played in rising rates of unhealthy substance use in America.  

12. Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

One of the first of its kind, Drink opens our eyes to the connection between drinking, trauma and the impossible quest to ‘have it all’ that many women experience. Ann Dowsett Johnston masterfully weaves personal story, interviews, and sociological research together to create a compelling, informative, and even heartbreaking reality about drinking and womanhood. Written with courage and candor this book leaves you ready to push against a society suggesting alcohol is the solution to women’s problems.   

13. The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease by Marc Lewis

Written by a cognitive neuroscientist with former substance use struggles, Marc Lewis emphasizes the habitual reward loop in the brain that can cause a substance use disorder to develop. This book also examines the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways and lose the desire to use substances. Lewis provides a description of life in recovery that I relate to myself; that sober life is not a life of deprivation, but one of fulfillment, continued growth, and personal development.

14. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté

This is one of the most compelling books on recovery and humanity ever written. Dr. Maté shares the powerful insight that substance use is, in many cases, a survival mechanism. When something awful happens to us, our way to cope is to turn off and even turn against ourselves, as a method of resilience. The book discusses drug policies, substance use treatment, and the root causes of substance use. More than anything, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts provides a voice of kind generosity and understanding to anyone who is looking to learn more for themselves or a loved one. 

15. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem

This book provides an eye-opening perspective on and insight into how racism and white supremacy can lead to intergenerational trauma. Resmaa Menakem shares the latest research on body trauma and neuroscience, as well as provides actionable steps towards healing as a collective. These insights can introduce a whole new dimension of healing while on a sobriety or moderation journey.  

16. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

I had to read this book in small doses because it was so intense. Bessel writes about trauma with great compassion and empathy. Through reading this book I came to better understand myself, my body’s physical reactions, and my mental health. It’s a tough book to read due to the descriptions of horrific traumas people have experienced, however it’s inspirational in its message of hope. Van der Kolk describes our inner resilience to manage the worst of life’s circumstances with our innate survival instinct. We can survive and even thrive despite the traumas we have endured.

woman reading by water fountain

How-To Books & Guides


17. The Easy Way to Control Alcohol by Allen Carr

Straightforward and to the point, Carr helps you examine the reasons you drink in the first place in The Easy Way to Control Alcohol. The book leaves you thinking differently about alcohol. For example, he explains why stating alcohol is poison and repeating the tagline “Never Question the Decision” can help you change your unconscious thoughts about alcohol, and shift your mindset. This book is a great place to start if you’ve been feeling sober curious

18. Not Drinking Tonight: A Guide to Creating a Sober Life You Love by Amanda E. White  

This is a self-help book by a licensed therapist that braids together anonymized client stories, personal narrative, psychological tools, and brain research. White thoughtfully explores boundaries, emotional regulation, body image, shame, and self-care in a way that’s actionable and accessible. The book is short, easy to read, and will leave you with some immediate tools for addressing social situations, sex, and friendship while navigating an alcohol-free lifestyle. 

19. The Sober Lush: A Hedonist Guide to Living a Decadent, Adventurous, Soulful Life–Alcohol Free by Amanda Eyre Ward and Jardine Libaire

This book is highly recommended for anyone who, like me, is or was terrified of living a boring life. This book will inspire anyone looking for fun and adventure to create incredible memories while living alcohol-free. It gives you new eyes to see the beauty in living sober.  

20. The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month by Hilary Sheinbaum

This book serves as a guide for anyone starting their journey with a 30 day sobriety challenge. The Dry Challenge can be especially helpful for people who drink socially, and are looking to take a structured step back to re-evaluate their habits. This book offers inspiration for alcohol-free drinks and activities, and tangible tips on how to navigate a month (or beyond!) without alcohol. 

21. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Although this book isn’t specifically about alcohol recovery, it has become a go-to guide in many recovery circles. (And for good reason!) Atomic Habits offers practical strategies for making meaningful changes to your habits and routines, one tiny step at a time. It includes research and quotable nuggets on how to immediately take steps toward behavior change. This book will take you from thinking to doing.

22. Tired of Thinking about Drinking: Take My 100 Day Sober Challenge by Belle Roberson

I am not sure I’d be sober today if it weren’t for Tired of Thinking About Drinking. That’s the best testimony I can give! Belle’s consistent messaging on our faulty thinking led to a major mindset shift for me. She provides actionable steps for anyone looking to drink less or none at all. A great starter book for anyone looking to begin changing their relationship with alcohol.

"alcohol will become less important to you"

Coffee Table & Recipe Books


23. Good Drinks: For Those Who Aren’t Drinking, for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge

This book offers a collection of elegant, complex, and sophisticated recipes that prove there’s so much more to zero proof beverages than overly sweet ‘mocktails’. Bainbridge combines unique ingredients with detailed preparation to create thoughtful and flavorful non-alcoholic beverages. This is more than a cookbook – it’s a captivating read and a gorgeous coffee table book to peruse over and over again. Plus, it’s sure to impress your guests at your next dinner party.     

24. Mocktail Party: 75 Plant-Based, Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Every Occasion by Kerry Benson and Diana Licalzi

This is an approachable recipe book using everyday healthy ingredients to make delicious alcohol-free drinks for every occasion. Developed by registered dietitians, this book takes a new twist on classic cocktails. You’ll also find options for dessert drinks, frozen drinks, and holiday drinks without relying on sugar for flavor.

Best Books Related to Healing and Mental Health


25. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Creating healthy boundaries is one of the most useful practices we can put into place in early sobriety. But what does that mean, exactly, and how do you go about establishing boundaries? Nedra Glover Tawwab combines wisdom, research, and practical tools to help you change your life by building sustainable boundaries that actually work for you.

26. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday

These pages are filled with the teachings of ancient Stoics such as Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that believes self-control, courage, justice, and wisdom are the keys to happiness. This book functions as daily devotional with reflective meditations and modern day translations on how to improve your mental health. This book is for everyone, but learning to ‘tame the inner dragon’ is especially helpful to people in recovery. 

27. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown

Perhaps any of Dr. Brown’s books could be listed here. I chose Atlas of the Heart because it touches on the important theme of second chances. This book provides language for sharing our most heartbreaking moments as a way to connect. Stories heal, and no circle knows that more than the recovery circle. The simple fact that we are not alone in our struggle can be enough to find our way out of the dark. Dr. Brown gives us tools to shape and share our thoughts in the most honest way possible, which can be a crucial step towards healing. 

28. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book reads like a conversation, and teaches us to get curious. Gilbert helps us understand the noisy voice in our head, which can often be our greatest critic. She offers generous vulnerability in her lessons and encourages you to find your gift within. A life of recovery is an awakened life of purpose, service, and meaning. This book turns the lights back on inside of you.     

29. The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

Self-love can be one of the most beautiful things to come from a recovery journey. But the process of self-acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. This book provides an amazing framework for embracing our true selves in a society that tries to tell us we’re not already whole as we are. If you struggle with anything related to body image, you won’t regret this read. This book may also help you see sobriety as a gift you’re giving to your body. 

Reading a few chapters of a recovery-related book each day can help weave your sobriety or moderation goals into your everyday life. It can provide ongoing reminders of why you’re making a change, and give you new tools to incorporate as you continue on your journey. Plus, you’ll get to read beautiful writing, and expand your worldview and perspectives. If you’re looking for more sobriety resources, check out Monument’s free therapist-moderated alcohol support groups and anonymous online forum.

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

About the Author

Heather LoweHeather has a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work, a Professional Human Resources Certificate. She is a Certified Life Coach, and a Certified Professional Recovery Coach. Heather uses her 20 years of experience in relationship and business development, selling HR solutions locally, nationally, and globally within the corporate world, to offer strategic and compassionate consulting to individuals and organizations looking to improve wellness.   Heather ditched the drink in February 2018 and started her own company, Ditched the Drink in 2019, to help professionals and organizations evaluate their relationship with alcohol. Heather offers individual and group coaching support, individual and corporate online alcohol free challenges, onsite or online workshops, corporate wellness consulting, speaking, and individual coaching. Her work has been published in Thrive Global, Corporate Wellness Magazine, The Fix, Redesigning Wellness, and more. She can be found on her website www.ditchedthedrink.com