The 9 Most Moving Memoirs About Addiction

Mitchell S. Jackson frames the narrative around his own experiences and those of his family and community. Weaving together poems, historical documents, and photos, this is an essential book about, among many other things, alcoholism and survival. I recently came to terms with my own problematic relationship with alcohol, and my one solace has been in books. I’ve dug into memoir after memoir, tiptoed into the hard science books, and enjoyed the fiction from afar. The following are a smattering of the books about alcoholism I’ve found meaningful. 2009’s Lit is the volume that deals with Karr’s alcoholism and desperate search for recovery.

Decades later, Cat reminisces about those days with Marlena and learns to forgive herself and move on from those days. Julie Buntin’s Marlena is a stunning look at alcoholism, addiction, and bad decisions, and how they haunt us forever. Survival Math is an incredible look at race and class, gangs and guns, addiction and masculinity.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

It can be read alone, but why would you want to miss out on reading all three in order? Although the first two volumes aren’t overtly about Karr’s addiction, they show best alcoholic memoirs its makings in her traumatic home life and a lost adolescence. Ditlevsen’s trilogy, by contrast, plunges us into the perspective of a succession of her former selves.

This is one of the best memoirs on alcohol recovery in my opinion. 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.

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She keeps showing up to 12-step meetings, even when they do nothing for her. Her breakthrough arrives as much through exhaustion as some kind of epiphany. She discovers in Catholicism a spirituality that makes sense to her and seems to keep her sober, but she doesn’t proselytise or become too holy for irony. Instead she presents herself as a kind of Godly schmuck, chronically slow on the spiritual uptake.