2018's best books about (not) drinking

Laura Willoughby | January 2018 | 12 minutes

If you were ever in any doubt that mindful drinking is the health trend of the moment, then just look at the number of books coming out this January dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits.

Here, Laura from Club Soda lists some of her favourite books for mindful drinking and quitting alcohol, both old and new, and shares her top tips about how these books can help you in your mindful drinking journey.

Three things you need to know about books about drinking

1) Read more than one. This is not some money-making ploy, but a key behaviour change technique. Immersing yourself in the subject, reading different stories and perspectives will help you find the bits of advice that work for you.

Your brain will be working very hard to find reasons to ditch your drinking goals within the first few days. If you read a book that does not hit the spot for you it would be easy to use it as an excuse to ditch your goal. ‘I am clearly different and this won’t work for me… now where is the end of the Christmas sherry?’ Reading different types of books will allow you to find the stories and tools that suit you.

2) Go back and re-read. In the first few days of changing your drinking habits your confidence is high, so some of the most important bits of advice will pass you by. As your first month gets into full swing you will experience discomfort, maybe subtle effects of withdrawal, or a difficult emotional or social situation. The books below all contain information that will help. So keep them close at hand.

3) Follow the advice. If you are anywhere near as belligerent as me, you will look at all the exercises and practical aspects and decide they are for ‘other people’ or that they just take too much effort. I wish I had not been such an arrogant twat, and listened to the advice of those that went before me. It would have saved me a great deal of pain and headache, and I may have salvaged something out of my 30s.

All of these books have been written by people who have actively changed their own drinking habits. Nothing is better than real lived experience, and each of the authors here knows what they are talking about.

Club Soda's top books

'Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life' by Rosamund Dean

We are really excited by this book (and not just because we gave Rosamund the benefit of our pearls of wisdom). It pulls no punches and really reflects the planning and effort you need to put in if you want to moderate successfully. The good news is that Rosamund provides plenty of incentives to put the effort in. She shares her experiences and her rules that have turned her from someone who always drank at book launches to an occasional drinker.

I loved this book. It’s smart, insightful and relatable. It never judges you, or tells you off. Instead, it cheerfully – and humorously – invites you to reconsider your assumptions about alcohol. After I read it, for the first time ever, I truly believed that life with a bit less booze in it could be a lot more fun.’ (Hannah Marriott, The Guardian)

Who is this good for: Anyone looking to put in the hard graft to moderate for the longer term.

Buy Mindful Drinking on Amazon UK.

‘This Naked Mind’ by Annie Grace

This book has been a Club Soda members’ favorite for a while, and has now been taken up by Penguin for wider distribution. Annie was like most of us, holding it all together whilst her drinking habits crept up. She was responsible for marketing in 28 countries and drinking more than a bottle of wine a night. Sound familiar?

This Naked Mind helps to debunk the myths you may have about what alcohol does for you. It takes you on an intellectual journey, explains the impact alcohol has on the brain, and how societal myths allow us to justify such a destructive habit. Through her story, you begin to see how changing your mindset can not only help you quit drinking but also give you a real sense of freedom. Alcohol becomes something you no longer want.

Check out Annie’s This Naked Mind audio and video coaching course programmes too.

Who is this good for: Anyone who has decided they are ready to quit or take an extended break, and needs help changing their mindset.

Buy This Naked Mind on Amazon UK.

‘The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge’ by Andy Ramage and Ruari Fairbairns

Many of the books about drinking are by women sharing their stories, so it is great that Andy and Ruari put their experiences at the heart of this practical book. Taking a break from drinking will teach you a lot. Their 28 day challenge takes you through the process step-by-step, and gives you great tips and exercises to help you manage a month alcohol-free.

Who is this good for: Perfect for Dry January and year-round! Not sure whether you want to cut down or quit or not? Doing 28 days won’t kill you so, what do you have to lose?

Buy The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge on Amazon UK.

'Alcohol Explained' by William Porter

This book is a staple for Club Soda members with a curious mind. It explains how alcohol affects human beings on a chemical, physiological and psychological level, from those first drinks right up to chronic alcoholism.

It also covers many aspects of what happens, physically and psychologically, when you start to change your habits. It may be the best book to really get to the nub of whether you have a problem or not (if you had not already worked that out!)

“I bought this book as I am trying to quit alcohol after many years. I could not put it down, until I finished it. William Porter’s book is excellent at explaining alcohol in a way that you can really understand. I am currently trying to go alcohol free and this book has helped me a great deal.” Amazon Review

Who is this good for: Anyone who wants to understand more about the science of alcohol.

Buy Alcohol Explained on Amazon UK.

‘How To Change Your Drinking: Reset Your Relationship With Alcohol In 4 Weeks’ by Laura Willoughby MBE and Dr Jussi Tolvi

Did you know we have written a Kindle book too? Well we have. It is a small self-published volume, that will set you back just £4.99.

Our e-book takes you through changing your drinking habits step-by-step, and shares knowledge from the whole of the Club Soda community. From building a survival kit to dealing with discomfort, this book will make sure there are no surprises as you get through your first month.

Who is this good for: Anyone looking to do a ‘hard reset’ and take a month off drinking – before moderating or going alcohol-free.

Buy How to Change Your Drinking on Amazon UK.

‘The Sober Diaries’ by Clare Pooley

Reading other people’s journeys is always really powerful, and Clare has been blogging her experiences on Mummy was a Secret Drinker for some time. She has now brought all of that personal experience together into this great book.

We really resonated with the experience of a big life change leading to an increasing drinking habit (and the late night googling!). Her story is honest and moving and a great motivator. Every real story is packed with the advice you can relate to, and this book is no different. Clare discovers the answers to questions like: How do I know if I’m drinking too much? How will I cope at parties? What do I say to friends and family? How do I cope with cravings? If I stop drinking will I lose weight? What if my partner still drinks? And many more.

“The relief & hope that came from realising that I was not alone was indescribable.” Catherine K

Who is this good for: A motivational story that will lift your spirits, stiffen your resolve, and lets you know that the sky won’t fall in if you quit drinking.

Buy The Sober Diaries on Amazon UK.

The Sober Diaries now costs only £12.99 before 31 January at Waterstones with the code DRYJAN.

‘Dry: Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, Cordials And Clever Concoctions’ by Clare Liardet

Finding a new favorite tipple is a great distraction in your first few alcohol-free weeks. This beautiful book helps you flex your creative muscles and also provides a great blueprint for a great house party in January.

“A clever collection of cool concoctions – a refreshing take on the alcohol-free movement that’s less about Dry January, and more about embracing celebratory, yummy and inventive liquor-free cocktails all year round.” (Psychologies)

Who is this good for: Anyone looking for new alcohol-free drink ideas.

Buy Dry on Amazon UK.

Club Soda is a Mindful Drinking Movement. We want to create a world where nobody has to feel out of place if they are not drinking alcohol. Club Soda is FREE to join. Read more about Club Soda.