Books, Alcohol & You

By Posted in Distractions

Reading and drinking

“There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book” – Josh Jameson

Books, they’ve filled my life since I was little. Stories interlacing themselves into my reality, where I lived in a world which straddled my imagination and the real world. Growing up, I sought refuge in them, making friends and lives within the folds of paper.

This was before I sought refuge in the bottom of a bottle. I can always remember the first book I ever read that made me question my drinking. At 17, I don’t know how Koren Zailckas’s book Smashed: Growing up a drunk girl ended up in my hands, but I do remember how I read that book with a sick, dull sense of recognition. And when I finished the book, I stopped reading for a while.

Books, alcohol, you

But you see, I never quite forgot Koren. Of taking her first drink at 14, and drinking well into her early twenties. Of waking up with shame and guilt. At the time I wanted to fully reject her story, closing the last page and trying to forget how much of myself I had seen in her. But it stuck, and to this day I remember it was a book that brought me a new awareness of myself, even when I didn’t want to see it.

Reading is an opportunity to discover a new sense of self, “reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding,” says Dr Josie Billington, deputy director into reading at the University of Liverpool. “Some books leave us free and some books make us free” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. And if the recent buzz around Sarah Hepola’s book BlackOut is anything to go by, more people are connecting with themselves and others by talking about their relationships with alcohol.

Book recommendations

We have a growing list of books, all recommended by our members. Below are some of the most recent recommendations made.

Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes Rachel's holiday“How did it end up like this? Twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty Valium bottle in my knickers …” Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey – and it’s about time she had a holiday. But what Rachel doesn’t count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this?

Continue Rachel’s Holiday here.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me before youLou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Get your own copy of Me Before You here.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little PiecesJames Frey wakes up on a plane, with no memory of the preceding two weeks. His face is cut and his body is covered with bruises. He has no wallet and no idea of his destination. He has abused alcohol and every drug he can lay his hands on for a decade – and he is aged only twenty-three. What happens next is one of the most powerful and extreme stories ever told. His family takes him to a rehabilitation centre. And James Frey starts his perilous journey back to the world of the drug and alcohol-free living. His lack of self-pity is unflinching and searing. A Million Little Pieces is a dazzling account of a life destroyed and a life reconstructed. It is also the introduction of a bold and talented literary voice, wrapped in controversy on its release as it was falsely promoted as a memoir but today is recognised as semi-autobiographical.

Get your own copy of James Frey’s controversial book here.

Got any recommendations of your own, about books, alcohol, you? We want to hear your book recommendations. Just email


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