06 Oct Top Ten Recovery Memoirs
One of the most powerful principles of recovery is sharing our experience, strength and hope with each other. I am always inspired when I hear another person’s story – while their may be cosmetic differences, I always identify with the feelings, struggles and triumphs of others.
I’ve always been an avid reader, and I fell in love with recovery memoirs shortly after I got sober. Recovery memoirs are a great way to share in someone’s story that you might not get a chance to encounter in person. They are full of hope, of tragedy, of failures, of triumphs…. But most of all, they are full of honesty and inspiration. Here are my top 10 recovery memoirs:
Augusten Burroughs, first shot to fame with “Running With Scissors”, a memoir detailing his teenage life after his mother gave away her parental rights to her psychiatrist and his wacky family. His follow up, “Dry”, picks up a few years later in New York City, as Augusten battles his alcoholism against the backdrop of New York City in the late 80’s. This novel is at times laugh-out-loud funny and at times break-your-heart devastating, but we will all relate to Augusten’s struggle to put down the bottle for good.
“Tweak” is Nic Sheff’s account of struggling with his addiction to heroin and crystal meth. This memoir doesn’t shy away from the ugly reality of what active addiction is really like, and also honestly depicts the cycle of recovery and relapse that so many addicts go through before gaining long term sobriety.
The companion book to “Tweak”, “Beautiful Boy” is an incredible account of what it is like to be a parent with an addicted child. Sheff combines his personal accounts, interviews with addiction experts and scientific research to paint a picture of the helplessness that so many parents and their children feel when dealing with addiction.
“Lit” is a beautifully written memoir. While her story is familiar, the way that Carr writes is different than most memoirs I have come across: her literary prose and her focus on the spiritual journey that was born from her alcoholism makes this a very interesting read.
Of all the drinking memoirs I have read, Knapp does the best job in articulating the insidious ways that alcoholism permeates your life. A functioning alcoholic, she perfectly details the small ways that her life began to unravel, even if it wasn’t immediately noticeable to those around her.
While most of these memoirs focus on stories of addiction, “Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety” focusing solely on Scoblic’s recovery and the sometimes painful, sometimes beautiful experiences she has once she stops drinking.
Zailckas’ portrait of her drinking, beginning at the age of 14 and ending after waking up in a strange apartment at the age of 22 with no idea how she got there, is a reminder that alcoholism doesn’t discriminate based on age.
Clegg, an up and coming literary agent in New York City, loses it all to his crack addiction. His account of his desperation, his loss of control, his descent into paranoia and eventually, his recovery, is both harrowing and inspiring.
An almost unbelievable account of heroin use and the dark underbelly of Hollywood, Stahl’s memoir is definitely worth a read.
Cupcake Brown’s story is the most amazing I’ve ever read. Cupcake’s journey from a foster child to a prostitute to a gang member to a crack addict and, eventually, to a law school graduate, is a triumph of the human spirit.