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Staying Sober This Month? 10 Books to Help You Get Through Dry January

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Tracy Shapley Towley

Staff Writer

Tracy is a freelance copywriter, all-around ne’er do well, very-adult graduate of the University of Iowa, and occasional waterer of plants. Her hobbies include writing fiction, reading fiction, mixing together various flavors of soup, and typing letters to her friends on an old red typewriter that doesn't have a working period so all sentences must end in questions marks or exclamation points? She has read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and has a lot of thoughts on them. Her old Iowa farmhouse is shared by her husband Sean, a pair of cats, a pair of dogs, and the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut.

Whether they call it Dryuary, Dry January, or a New Year’s Resolution, millions of people have committed to skipping alcohol for the entirety of January. According to Alcohol Change UK, more than 6.5 million will take part this year—which is a significant increase from the 3.9 million who took part in January 2020. In fact, one of every five British adults who currently consider themselves drinkers are planning to stay dry this month.

If you’re in that boat, or you’re barely hanging on to a life preserver floating next to that boat, check out this list of books, conveniently broken down based on motivation for this challenge.

Dry January for Health Reasons

It seems like every week there’s a new study showing that alcohol is/is not good for your health, or that drinking a glass of wine a night does/does not help achieve longevity. The truth is that for most people, small amounts of alcohol are likely fine, but if you’re drinking nightly or are regularly partying alone with a six-pack, it might be negatively affecting your health.

If, for some reasonable reason, my personal, non-doctor opinion isn’t quite enough for you, you might take a look at these books.

Drink The Science of Alcohol and Your Health

Drink?: The New Science of Alcohol and Health by Professor Nutt

Professor Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist who specializes in the research of drugs that affect the brain and conditions such as addiction, anxiety, and sleep offers the pros and cons of drinking, and he shows his work—you’ll find dozens and dozens of peer-reviewed articles and studies included.

Alcohol Explained

Alcohol Explained by William Porter

As a recovering alcoholic, I can tell you that the way my first-ever drink affected me and the way my last-ever drink (knock wood) affected me were nothing alike.

This topic—and a heckuva lot more—is covered in Porter’s work, which delves into the chemical, physiological, and psychological impact of alcohol, starting with first drinks and through to chronic alcoholism.

books about alcoholism

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

A combo of personal experience and in-depth research, Johnston’s focus is on how alcohol affects all humans, but more specifically how it affects women.

A close look at how society views women drinkers, and how drinking affects women’s lives and health, it’s a unique angle that is much appreciated.

Dry January Because You’re Bored With Drinking

Alcohol Change UK found that nearly 30% of adults surveyed admitted that they drank more in 2020 than in previous years. Many of these people said they were drinking to cope with the difficulties of the year, and others found that they were drinking because there was nothing better to do.

Guess what, though: there are better things to do! We’ve got a whole article of book-adjacent hobbies you can check out, or you can pick up one of these books that cover new hobbies and fun times ahead.

Crafting Books

Loome Party: 20 Tiny Yarn Projects to Make from Your Stash by Vilasinee Bunnag

Do you like pompoms? Do you like tiny things? Then you might like this book, which shows you how to make tiny yarn projects—including tiny yarn projects.

If you want to craft but pompoms and/or tiny things aren’t your style, you can check out a bunch more easy craft books compiled by Isabelle Popp.

Language Books

Complete Nepali Beginner to Intermediate Course: Learn to read, write, speak and understand a new language by Michael Hutt, Krishna Pradhan, and Abhi Subedi

Now’s as good a time as ever to learn a new language. Believe it or not, there are upwards of 6,500 languages out there and millions of books on the topic, including this tome that promises to teach you how to speak Nepali.


Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy

Baking had its moment early in the great quar (as my banana boys call it) but if you haven’t tried it yet, now’s the time. In Black Girl Baking, Jerrelle Guy offers up some truly scrumptious recipes and lots of fun facts along the way.

Dry January Because You Think You Might Have a Serious Problem

If you’ve decided to take a month off of drinking because it has had significant long-term consequences well before the pandemic began, then you might want to dig a little deeper into the possibility that you are addicted to alcohol. Luckily, there are a lot of books that can help you do that.

Books About Alcohol

Alcoholics Anonymous

Yes, yes, I know—you don’t want to go to an A.A. meeting. Trust me, no one does their first time.

I think there are many different ways for people to get sober. This is the way that worked for me. Read the book. Check out an online A.A. meeting. Or, you know, don’t!

books about alcoholism

Rational Recovery: The New Cure for Substance Addiction by Jack Trimpey

If you cringed or shuddered at the idea of A.A., then Rational Recovery, which touts itself as a “revolutionary alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous,” might be a better read.

books about alcoholism

Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker

If you like books recommended by Chrissy Teigen, then this might be right up your alley. As the title implies, it is geared toward women and does go deeply into the world of social drinking for women. However, there are tips on quitting that can apply to people who do not identify as women, too.

books on addiction

I’m Black and I’m Sober: The Timeless Story Of A Woman’s Journey Back To Sanity by Chaney Allen

Everyone has their own path to recovery, and if yours involves learning about the stories of other people who’ve struggled, then this could be what you’re looking for.

The story is that of a Black woman and it goes deep into the specific issues she faced as a Black woman getting sober. That said, there are plenty of universal truths in this honest and straightforward account of one woman’s path to recovery.

If you want to add another dozen/hundred books to your TBR about alcoholism/sobriety/addiction list, check out 11 Gripping Books about Alcoholism and Recovery, 100 Must-Read Books About Addiction, or my very own list of Fiction About Addiction.