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Quit lit is a small but ever-growing genre of books helping us reconsider everything we've learned about alcohol and drinking culture. From memoirs to self-help guides, these books often reveal the author's own story and offer helpful advice to those looking to cut back or ditch alcohol completely.
Even if you're not looking to change the way you drink specifically, quit lit books can be eye-opening reads as many also look into the psychology of addiction, mental health, and how we can change our most ingrained habits.
Rather than being heavy textbooks laded with warnings about the impact of alcohol on our health, however, quit lit authors focus more on all the benefits of not drinking and the positives of a life without alcohol.
What is quit lit?
'Quit lit' is the nickname given to literature about giving up alcohol. It's a relatively new genre of books helping people (particularly women) reassess their relationship with drinking. The books tend to be memoirs, written by those who've been through the process of giving up alcohol themselves, with some self-help guides and psychology-based books in there too.
For those looking to discover a life away from alcohol could look like, these books can offer incredible insight. "Before I quit drinking, I thought I was the only person out there struggling with alcohol consumption. It was a game changer for me when I discovered quit lit because I didn't feel alone in my journey anymore. Someone else out there understood my story," says Alexandra McRobert (opens in new tab), a qualified yoga teacher known as the Sober Yoga Girl, and the creator of The Mindful Life Practice (opens in new tab). "In my first ninety days sober, I read and listened to at least twenty books and I remember laughing and crying as I listened to them."
Not only does quit lit encourage women not to feel alone in their feelings and experiences of alcohol management, many of the memoirs and self-help guides feature useful information from the author on what truly helped them quit drinking. This tends to be anything from other books and audio guides to podcasts and even Instagram accounts belonging to those in the sober community.
So, whether you think you might have a drinking problem and are looking for advice or you just want to know what happens when you give up alcohol for good, these are the expert-recommended quit lit books to add to your bookshelf this year.
Quit lit memoirs
1. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober is the first of two memoirs by Catherine Gray and one of the most- recommended quit lit books by our handful of experts.
"I recommend this book to everyone," says McRobert."Gray was around my age when she began her sober journey and her stories about wild nights as a single girl were so relatable. She also provides so many practical tips and resources for those on sober journeys, including recommending podcasts and Instagram accounts to follow. This unlocked a new world of sobriety for me."
Naomi Buffery (opens in new tab), a sobriety coach and self-described recovered binge drinker, agrees. "What I found great about this book is the transformation the author went through," she says. "[Catherine Gray] hit rock bottom hard and the journey back again was so inspirational. It gave me hope that things were going to work out so much better than I could even imagine. And she was right."
- Buy at Amazon in the US from $11.59 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon in the UK from £8.49 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at from Waterstones from £9.99 (opens in new tab)
2. Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon
Journalist and mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon
"Bryony tells the story of her 20-year relationship with drugs and alcohol in raw and honest detail, including the dangers she put herself in, her rock-bottom moment, rehab, therapy, and life beyond. It's an eye-opening, roller coaster of a read," says sobriety coach and educator Carmela Rhodia (opens in new tab).
This book, BACP therapist Katerina Georgiou (opens in new tab), says "is the literary version of your friend at a party, a few drinks in on your arrival, showing you what lies ahead."
- Buy at Amazon in the US from $4.99 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon in the UK from £4.99 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £16.99 (opens in new tab)
3. The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley
For those questioning their drinking habits but perhaps not quite ready to take on the next step, there's The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley.
"As a mother, this was a book I could resonate with. Clare guides you through her sobriety journey from day one," says sober coach Naomi Buffery. "It's extremely helpful in explaining how you will feel on each step of the journey. This was the first sobriety book I read and I found it incredibly inspiring. I could also relate to Clare's story, as a woman and a mother, which made me feel like I wasn't alone."
- Buy at Amazon US from $13.29 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £6.27 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £9.99 (opens in new tab)
4. High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins
For a true story of addiction and a view into the world of alcohol addiction, psychotherapist and mindset coach Ella McCrystal (opens in new tab) recommends Tiffany Jenkin's memoir.
"This book ticks so many boxes if you’re looking for a real perspective," she says. "It’s raw, eye-opening, and even funny at times. Tiffany’s true story has moments of shock and moments where you’ll want to cry. There are moments of vulnerability and you’ll definitely feel inspired reading it. If you want to understand the real depths of addiction, but also want to feel inspired and understand you can heal too, this is the story for you."
- Buy at Amazon US from $11.79 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £5.99 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £13.99 (opens in new tab)
5. Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker
Much like books by Catherine Gray, Holly Whitaker's Quit Like A Woman is a favorite of many of the experts who have gone through the process of giving up drinking or cutting back themselves.
Laura Willoughby MBE (opens in new tab) is the founder of the world's largest mindful drinking movement, Club Soda (opens in new tab), and it's one she recommends too. "Quit Like A Woman is part personal story, part how-to guide, and part polemic on different ways of quitting alcohol. Holly Whitaker weaves her story into the book, sharing what worked and didn’t work for her when she decided to go alcohol-free."
However, the overall message Whitaker offers is that we all have to find our path when it comes to changing our drinking habits. "And although the book’s title and emphasis are on women, it is valuable reading for anyone," Willoughby adds.
If you recognize that you have a drinking problem and are looking toward some of the more popular recovery programs, this may be a particularly insightful read. As Willoughby says, "Holly has strong views on Alcoholics Anonymous, which she’s also written about in newspaper columns. Briefly, her view is that AA was developed, and is aimed at, middle-class white men and that its message of humility is not the right one for any less privileged group in society, including women, ethnic minorities, or disabled or LGBT+ people."
- Buy at Amazon US from $11.99 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £5.65 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £10.99 (opens in new tab)
6. The Good Drinker: How I Learned To Love Drinking Less by Adrian Chiles
Adrian Chiles is a British TV, radio journalist, and perhaps most famous for being a football commentator. While this book isn't targeted towards women specifically and some people will find his focus on units of alcohol a little relatable, it is one of the bestsellers in the quit lit genre for a reason.
"The Good Drinker also has the stories of other moderate drinkers, interviews with experts, and practical tips and strategies for cutting down," Willoughby says. "Adrian is a good and engaging writer so the book is a pleasure to read, and there is lots to digest for anyone considering or practicing moderate or mindful drinking."
- Buy at Amazon US from $10.99 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £7.49 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £7.49 (opens in new tab)
Best quit lit guides
7. How To Be A Mindful Drinker by the Club Soda Community
This one's a woman&home favorite. How to be a Mindful Drinker by the Club Soda Community is the perfect how-to guide for those looking to try mindful drinking and cut back on their alcohol consumption.
It's full of stories and useful tips from members of Club Soda, which is a global movement of people looking to actively change their drinking habits, so you know they work. As the digital health editor at woman&home, I read plenty of quit lit and similar books - and there's not one other like this out there.
How To Be A Mindful Drinker guides readers on how exactly to start paying proper attention to their drinking habits and opens up the conversation of how drinking more moderately can improve our health, relationships, and mental wellbeing. Plus, there are practical tips such as guides to finding the best alcohol-free drinks.
- Buy at Amazon US from $12.87 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £15.49 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £8.99 (opens in new tab)
8. How To Drink Without Drinking – Celebratory Alcohol-Free Drinks For Any Time Of The Day by Fiona Beckett
For many people, one of the hardest parts of Sober October, Dry January, and generally the first few months of giving up alcohol is finding alternatives to alcohol. That's where Fiona Beckett's recipe book comes in - it's not quite quit lit but it's close enough.
"How To Drink Without Drinking is beautifully produced, with gorgeous photos of many of the recipes," says Willoughby. "These cover a wide range of drinks from cordials, shrubs, cocktails, fermented drinks, lattes, shakes, and juices to hot drinks and many more. There are also short sections on ingredients, equipment, food pairings, and substitutes for wines."
Plus, you can find many tips and tricks for avoiding booze if you're looking to explore substitutes - such as substituting red wine with grape juice mixed with balsamic vinegar.
"I can highly recommend this for anyone starting ou on an exploration of the wide variety of alcohol-free drink options, and more advanced mindful drinkers will also find much to enjoy," she says. "I had never heard of Tepache, a Mexican pineapple-based drink that sounds absolutely fabulous."
- Buy at Amazon US from $9.53 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £12.02 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £15.99 (opens in new tab)
9. How to be Sober and Keep your Friends by Flic Everett
Another big problem anticipated by those looking to ditch alcohol is what other people will think. Many people would be happy to drink something else but the majority of British and American social culture is centered around alcohol, so as this book describes, we drink it to maintain the status quo.
"This book recognizes the dilemma that we face in our society, the fact that drinking is so embedded into our culture and that any attempts to ditch the drink can be met with probing questions and suspicion, or mean losing whole swathes of your social life, making it complicated to give up," says therapist Katerina Georgiou, who is also the author of Your Mind Matters (opens in new tab). "The text is relatable, witty, and accessible, with tangible tips and support that you can action in simple ways, written with empathy from the perspective of somebody who has tried these methods out and come out the other side."
- Buy at Amazon US from $14.77 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £4.68 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £12.99 (opens in new tab)
10. This Naked Mind by Annie Grace
This Naked Mind by Annie Grace was another expert favorite, recommended by therapists and coaches alike. It introduces the idea that cutting back on alcohol (or giving it up completely) is all about reprogramming your thoughts so your perspective on alcohol changes. "It explains how it's not the person that's the problem, it's the alcohol that's addictive. I found this really enlightening because there's so much shame around alcohol addiction and it completely removed the shame for me," says Buffery.
"This book completely changed my mindset around unhelpful drinking habits," she says. "And it was something I understood and could get on board with. Before this, I didn't think there was any other way other an AA [Alcoholics Anonymous]. Having been to an AA meeting and hating it, this wasn't the path I wanted to go down."
- Buy at Amazon US from $10 (opens in new tab)
- Buy full collection at Amazon UK from £21.98 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £9.99 (opens in new tab)
11. The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi
Shahroo Izadi is a psychologist specializing in behavior change, a speaker, coach, and the author of The Kindness Method.
While this isn't technically a quit lit book, it's recommended by Club Soda's Laura Willoughby for anyone in need of some motivation to keep on quitting while staying kind to themselves. "She is my go-to book every time I need a pep talk and for any kind of change," she says. "It builds on her work specializing in addiction to help people change their habits for good."
- Buy at Amazon US from $16.99 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Amazon UK from £8.26 (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Waterstones from £12.99 (opens in new tab)
A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.
She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.
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