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RECO Reads: Five Addiction Memoirs to Read in 2017

The literary genre of memoir has long-served a specific purpose: to connect us, through words, to the stories and struggles of others. Within this world of autobiographical works lies a sub-genre that has become a cornerstone for addiction recovery.

Memoir offers readers—and writers—the opportunity to delve deeper into emotions related to past events. The stories that we carry with us become the fabric of our individuality, though they also serve to link us together in a way that only writing can.

Anais Nin aptly stated that we write, “to taste life twice: once in the moment, and again on the page.” Addiction memoirs exemplify this fact through the renewed perspective that often emerges when reflecting on recovery, and the effort, courage, and resilience it has taken to achieve long-term success.

Whether you are personally in recovery from addiction, or would simply like to learn more about others’ experiences, there are dozens of fantastic addiction memoirs to put on your New Year’s Resolution reading list.

Read on to discover five top picks.

1) Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

We have reviewed this book on this blog before, and its impact still lingers. Our narrator here is Sarah Hepola, a journalist who is six years sober. As she attempts to retrace her steps to recovery, she unearths memories that she once thought to be lost to the fog of addiction. Hepola supplies smart, dazzling prose that exposes the raw emotion of her lifelong relationship with alcohol.

2) Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Cited in Hepola’s acknowledgments, Drinking: A Love Story was published in 1996, and continues to serve as an inspiration to countless individuals in the midst of similar struggles. In a time when female alcoholism remained a taboo topic, Knapp shined a direct light on her personal hardships and interactions with the disease, and her writing is both candid and also supported by harrowing statistics regarding alcohol abuse.

3) Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane

A compilation of autobiographical essays from multiple authors, Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast offers insight from many different perspectives. Throughout the book, readers will discover unfiltered, personal insight that comes directly from being in the “belly of the beast,” as they connect with writers who are now on the other side of that experience.

4) Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

A companion book to Tweak by Nic Sheff, David’s son, Beautiful Boy offers a parent’s perspective on addiction, and the lasting ways in which it affects an entire family. Nic, who became addicted to crystal meth and heroin as a teen, provides his own raw and moving commentary in Tweak, though Beautiful Boy gives a voice to the millions of families across the country who are struggling to help their addicted children. Together, the two books are a force, and an invaluable resource to many.

5) Lit by Mary Karr

A painstaking documentation of her early marriage, plagued by her own drug and alcohol abuse, Lit by Mary Karr is a powerful offering from the memoir genre. As she describes her own mother’s alcoholism, and eventually, her own, she reveals a journey that ended in a discovery of a new religion, and the choices that would lead her to the more-than 20 years of sobriety she celebrates today.


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