Sober curious books help motivate and inspire you to stay on track and keep you company in those quiet and reflective moments when you start thinking about why you drink in the first place – if that’s something you want to crack open and resolve.
The selection of books we’ve gathered here all have pros and cons, because going sober is a tricky subject to discuss without getting people offside - everyone’s relationship with alcohol is as different as they are! But they are some of the more popular titles. There’s plenty more if you want to have a search too.
A lot of titles we’ve come across are skewed towards giving up alcohol full-time, and/or are for people who identify as having a problem with alcohol (which according to some books is anyone who drinks alcohol). We say: there’s useful things to be gleaned in all of them but take or leave the tone of voice and ideas that don’t work for your personal circumstances.
So check out our selection of sober curious books and grab a copy before you get started on Sober October.
Drinking Culture and Books About Mindful Drinking
These books explore the societal factors that contribute to why we drink, offer scientific insights on drinking, and offer up the authors as subjects. They share ideas on what worked for them to help you increase your own resolve.
Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Deep Connection, and Limitless Presence Awaiting Us All On The Other Side of Alcohol - By Ruby Warrington
Yep, we’ll just sit right here and wait while you run out and grab a copy - seldom does a book title promise so much! So the desire to read it right away is understandably compelling. Even if it delivers on only a quarter of what it suggests you’re still winning. Ruby Warrington was the one to coin the phrase "sober curious". And the way she presents this information, even though some of it is stuff we know, is a wake up call. The upshot is this: the momentary thrill we get from alcohol is easily exceeded by the internal joy, confidence and connection we can cultivate when we give ourselves a break from it. And the alcohol we’re using to achieve these things just makes them more elusive.
Sobering thought: However…however. In drilling down on why we drink (or why Ruby used to drink as a high flying journo), the book veers into social and political areas that expose it to the author’s opinions. This discourse, peppered with personal anecdotes and Ruby’s interest in astrology (yes), won’t suit everyone. But if this is unlikely to bother you, it’s a good resource for to get you to look at something that most of us do unquestioningly. And it shows us a door to new ways of coping.
The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life - By Annie Grace
In similar fashion to Sober Curious, Annie Grace explores the reasons why we drink in a bid to cure us of being under it’s control. Her goal is to help you take back your own mind by showing you evidence of what has been done to it. Not just by alcohol itself, but by all the marketing elements that support the sale of alcohol and perpetuate its use as socially acceptable. Annie (who also has her own podcast of the same name) sets out to do this through a combination of cultural observations and industry insights, with scientific information used to suit its purpose. Interwoven through the book is the story of how she herself struggled with alcohol after becoming a young marketing vice president.
Sobering thought: Instead of demonising the drinker this book casts alcohol itself as the issue. So in that light, moderate drinking isn’t really a possibility. So ultimately, we’d say this book is best for people who are actually looking to quit drinking altogether. And if you want a blunt tool with which to do that, a lot of people swear by this approach. Expect sales speak, repetition, and the application of science to suit its purposes though.
*You can follow this book with the companion course/workbook by the same author: The Alcohol Experiment.
First Person Stories of Sobriety & Sober Memoirs
While the books about mindful drinking include personal stories about the authors, the books in this section are much more memoirs. Reading about their personal experiences with alcohol and journey to sobriety can be more confronting, but the intention is that their stories act as cautionary tales, as well as offering solace and helpful tips.
By and large this book gets rave reviews. If you’re a working mum going through the highs and lows of juggling life then she’s very relatable. But whether you’re struggling with wine o’clock cravings or not, this book is a solid read. It’s written in a warm and honest style that leaves no stone unturned as Lotta goes on a journey from drinker to thinker, by way of starting a blog (which she thought was private initially) to document all she comes up against while going sober, rather than going the AA route - which is not always suited to people who don't identify as having a chronic alcohol dependency.
Sobering thought: The book includes blog posts that Lotta composed during her journey and then she connects them with additional narrative. She also includes responses she got to her blog posts, with readers commenting on how much her candour has helped them. This won’t appeal to everyone, but it demonstrates how solidarity is an important part of the process if you want to change habits. The author is showing us that it wasn’t until she stopped trying to hide her problem that she was able to do something about it.
This is not so much a memoir about drinking as it is about hitting rock bottom by numbing yourself, and going through the pain of facing the demons that got you there so you can rebuild your life in a new and better way. So in a word, it’s gruelling. But it’s important because it tackles the issue that it's not the substances or activities we use to make ourselves feel better that are the problem (alcohol, drugs, food, Netflix!), it’s our fear of resolving past trauma that causes us to escape that we need to deal with.
Sobering thought: Yes, there’s no two ways about it, this book is confronting. And some people will have a problem with it. And want to judge the author for some of the things she’s done. But the courage it conveys may be helpful if fear is holding you back. And it serves as a good reminder that you're not so bad: for every person doing better than you are, there's someone worse off, so be kind to yourself and to others.
How to Quit Drinking and Sober Guides
The books in this section are designed to offer more practical advice on how to give up alcohol. They include helpful tips you can implement in your daily life, what to expect on certain days in some situations, and how to manage the expectations of friends and others that may influence your choices.
Why Can’t I Drink Like Everyone Else: A Step-By-Step Guide to Understanding Why You Drink and Knowing How to Take a Break - By Rachel Hart
The last part of the book title is solid gold: HOW to take a break. Rachel is a certified Master Life Coach, who integrates elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and mindfulness techniques without getting woo-woo. Best of all, her non-judgmental tone is not here to preach full abstinence all the time. That’s a decision for you. Her guide is simply a practical guide to understanding yourself, and what you can do if you want to make a change for the long or short term.
Sobering thought: Rachel uses Think / Feel / Act tools to help people take control of their impulses and figure out what they really want. It’s simple and effective. And her style feels relatable for the times we live in now. If you’re unsure if this is for you, check out Rachel’s podcast: Take a Break From Drinking.
If you like a tone of voice that shoots straight from the hip, then you might like Belle’s no holds barred approach to telling it like it is and feeling better. As a Canadian who lives in France, she understands temptation. But her approach is simple (though hard): just quit for 100 days and within that time, experience what sober life has to offer. And if you give it a proper go, that should give you enough time to understand how good life can be without booze. But moreover, how you’re able to have fun without it.
Sobering thought: The tips included here are light on, and she does have a tendency to repeat how hard it is, but she covers moments like laying in bed at night and over-thinking, and what to do on day 1, 7, 16 and 30 when you hit hard spots.
For more support, check out our Guide on How to Sober October to set yourself up for success. It’s full of prompts and advice to keep you on track if you want to try an alcohol free challenge.