I’ve shared a list of books about sobriety on this blog before, but look, we might be socially distancing a while still. In a world where we can’t connect in person, books we relate to can help us feel connected. Below are some books about addiction, recovery, and mental health.
“Memoirs of an Addicted Brain” by Marc David Lewis
Lewis is a neuroscientist. But before he became one, his life revolved around drugs and alcohol. Like many in active addiction, he valued substances over most other things in life. Each chapter of this book is dedicated to a specific drug: his experience with it, and what was happening in his brain as he took or craved it. It’s a really interesting interweaving of his personal stories with neuroscience. The book shows just how much active addiction changes the brain. And it shows that sobriety isn’t the end of a life, but the start of a more fulfilling one. Lewis channeled his obsession with substances into a healthy and meaningful career.
In this book of essays, Ikpi explores her life as a Nigerian-American immigrant, a poet, and a person who struggles with mental health. As a kid, Ikpi experienced rapidly cycling periods of extreme highs and lows. In her 20’s, she performed slam poetry and presented like she had it all together, but underneath she was suffering tremendously. At some point she was hospitalized and received a diagnosis of Bipolar and Anxiety. This is a beautiful book. You can tell it’s written by a poet and expert storyteller. Ikpi ultimately became a mental health advocate, dedicating her life to ending the stigma. As such—despite the title—Ikpi is generously honest at every turn.
This is a funny and powerful book about Hepola’s former drinking and eventual sobriety. It explores the lie modern women are fed that drinking makes them cool and empowered. Hepola used to buy into this idea. Her drinking reinforced it, as she became more and more dependent on alcohol. After being sober a while, she realized she was more empowered to make her own choices, remember nights and be her full self. But it took some time to transform her ideas of what sobriety meant. As she writes, “Alcohol is one hell of a pitchman, and perhaps his greatest lie is convincing us we need him, even as he tears us apart.”
This is an incredible book of essays. Wang interweaves her experiences with Schizophrenia and PTSD with explorations of relevant topics in our culture. For instance, one essay is about how two preteen girls got so wrapped up in the slenderman story they ended up trying to kill their friend. One girl was later diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Wang explores how she herself sometimes finds it hard to separate fact from fiction, movies from reality. But she also talks about why people with Schizophrenia aren’t inherently dangerous, and how with treatment people can gain insight. If you are someone who doesn’t have Schizophrenia, the book helps you better understand that experience—and learn about a lot of other things along the way, too.
If you need a laugh during this crisis, So Sad Today is a good option. While Broder deals with a lot of heavy topics—addiction and recovery, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Depression—she manages to make the book funny. It’s been a while since I read it, but what I remember most about reading the book is laughing, a lot. But there are also a lot of moments that are, as the title suggests, sad. Broder has had multiple types of addictions—to substances, to love—and has struggled with her mental health her whole life. She talks about putting on a “funny mask” to disguise the real pain she’s going through, which makes the rest of the (funny) book even more potent.
A lot of bookstores are still doing delivery—in many cases offering it free. It’s a win-win to support local bookshops who may be struggling and get good stuff to read while you’re at home. If you are struggling with an addiction or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers across the country are open and here for you, with hospital-grade sanitization of our facilities to ensure your safety. Many of our staff have been where you are and know how hard it is. We will empower you to build a life in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.