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Drinking: A Love Story

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  12,050 Ratings  ·  790 Reviews
Fifteen million Americans a year are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Many of them, like Caroline Knapp, started in their early teens and began to use alcohol as "liquid armor," a way to protect themselves against the difficult realities of life. In this extraordinarily candid and revealing memoir, Knapp offers important insights not only about ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published August 2nd 1999 by The Dial Press (first published 1996)
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Barbara It gives you a good understanding of being an alcoholic, whether that says anything about yourself only you will know. She does a really good job of…moreIt gives you a good understanding of being an alcoholic, whether that says anything about yourself only you will know. She does a really good job of describing what it's like after you quit drinking too, the difficulties you still face. If I were an alcoholic I think I would find it helpful. I read a lot of addiction memoirs and they tend to end when it gets to the daily grind of maintaining sobriety but she delves a little bit deeper.
It is pretty alcohol-specific, most addictions have the same m.o. so the ending could help but the majority of the book is about the unique issues with alcohol. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 02, 2010 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to avoid this, to simply rate this touching book and be done with it. I wanted to just ignore my compulsion toward emotionally disemboweling myself on the internet. And I've never really been one to write an autobiographical book review, but ... here we are, or here I am. Here I am, in my claustrophobic room; books scattered about, the television set on the main menu of Oshima Nagisa's Three Resurrected Drunkards (the irony there is very much unintentional), dim lamp light, Beethoven so ...more
I just pulled my previous review after discovering the author died at the age of 42 from lung cancer. I'd been wanting to find out how she was getting on after ceasing drinking in 1995. She did maintain sobriety from what I know and continued a successful career until her untimely death in 2002.

It is a very well written book, by a skilled journalist, and charts her slow and painful descent into alcohol dependence. As a very insightful account of her relationship with her father it is outstandin
Aug 14, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, addictions
I have an addiction to addiction memoirs, especially if the person is in recovery and is in a reflective mood. After all, who doesn't love a good redemption story?

Caroline Knapp's memoir of her alcoholism is one of the best addiction memoirs I've ever read. She described herself as a "high-functioning alcoholic," which meant she was mostly able to balance her journalism career with her excessive drinking. I read this in 2000, but the writing was so good that I still remember several scenes from
Mar 26, 2013 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My mother understood that drinking was more dangerous [than smoking] and she understood why: smoking could ruin my body; drinking could ruin my mind and my future. It could eat its way through my life in exactly the same way a physical cancer eats its way through bones and blood and tissue, destroying everything.

Beneath my own witty, professional façade were oceans of fear, whole rivers of self-doubt. I once heard alcoholism described in an AA meeting, with eminent simplicity, as “fear
Oct 17, 2007 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inside Information
This book is so well written, and is so honest and informative, it is perhaps the most compelling (and useful) story about addiction I've ever read. Caroline Knapp, an Ivy-League educated columnist and editor, shares the story of her slide into alcoholism and her road to recovery with brutal honesty. Her down-to-earth, conversational tone pulls you in, and paints a very credible picture of someone who goes beyond the singular, self-serving notion of merely writing a memoir. Rec
Juan Alvarado Valdivia
I seriously considered putting this book down around the 144 page mark--which I rarely ever do--but I managed to get through it. First of all, I have much respect for what Knapp put down for this book. I know from experience that it's not fun to write about such difficult personal moments for others to read. Revisiting and reliving those memories is a difficult task of its own. That said, I found the book frustrating, at times agonizing to read, once I got to the halfway point of the memoir. It ...more
Maya Rock
Jul 28, 2007 Maya Rock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever questioned their relationship with alcohol.
Shelves: saddestbooks
I also recommend this to anyone who feels they are trying too hard to avoid negative emotions.

I just started reading this book, and it's really good. I have to say I'm wondering though at this point if I am a low-functioning human being who would have more success as a high-functioning alcoholic (the author talks about her her professional success was spurred on in a way by the need to conceal her alcoholism.)

I like addiction stories. You've got to serve somebody.

I finished this book last night,
Jun 11, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was well done. The book addresses one's relationship with alcohol and the difference between not being able to quit and not wanting to. I think the title is excellent.
Sadly the author's personality led her to various addictions including anorexia and smoking. This supports recent studies noting that many people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery later struggle with alcohol and other addictions, often leading to depression.
Knapp died too young, from lung cancer secondary
Oct 19, 2007 Sophie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Almost done. Picked this up in my supervisor's office to read when i don't have any calls to make or meetings to run. It had some okay parts, but on the whole Knapp's broad generalizations about alcoholics "Alcoholics do this, alcoholics do that, we do this, blah blah blah" got really irritating. So she was/is an alcoholic--that means she can speak from her own experience, but not from EVERY alcoholic's. Plus her writing was just so... trendy.
3.5 stars

Caroline Knapp's Appetites stole my heart earlier this summer; if I could I would quote every single page of that book. Drinking, Knapp's earlier memoir, has a similar strength in its empowering vulnerability regarding Knapp's alcoholism. While this book lacks some of the insights within Appetites, it gives a searing look into the life of a former high-functioning alcoholic.

Of course, there is no simple answer. Trying to describe the process of becoming an alcoholic is like trying to de
Sonja Arlow
“Anyone who's ever shifted from general affection and enthusiasm for a lover to outright obsession knows what I mean: the relationship is just there occupying a small corner of your heart, and then you wake up one morning and some indefinable tide has turned forever and you can't go back. You need it; it's a central part of who you are.”

Alcoholism happens to the privileged, to the rich, to the very successful. It is not a picky lover.

This very touching memoir describes in painful detail the hig
Aug 25, 2008 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In vino veritas the saying goes. Being a wine drinker for years, I can agree and disagree with the common saying. When one drinks to excess, we certainly get very free with our feelings and emotions. I can also disagree with the saying as I didn’t always remember what I said at a certain point.

Ms. Knapp’s book was certainly a rude awakening for me. So many of her stories were simply me. Where will I get that next glass of wine, if I went out to dinner I would have wine before and after the meal
Jenn Sadai
Sep 09, 2016 Jenn Sadai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, informative and emotional story about one women's struggle with alcoholism.
David Groves
Jul 09, 2012 David Groves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had the good fortune of reading, before "Drinking," the two contemporary classics of memoir, "Lit" and "Liars Club," both by Mary Karr and both about the subject upon which Caroline Knapp essays. It is interesting to compare them, because they take very different tacks to the same subject.

Knapp is an excellent prose stylist. Her sentences pull you along and keep you glued to the page. There are virtually no stylistic mistakes or even awkwardnesses. This is not a first draft or even a fifth dra
Oct 16, 2011 Alexis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Possibly the best book about alcoholism that I've ever read. Caroline Knapp drank for 20 years. She chronicles how and why she started. Her writing is clear, raw and personal. This explains the fear that alcoholics deal with, and helped me understand the alcoholic mindset. The writing was really good and there were tons of facts in here that helped me learn things like-

1. An alcoholic's life generally has a major negative impact on the lives of at least 4 other people
2. 11 % of the US population
Sep 18, 2008 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
moving, sad, and gossipy. being a contemporary of hers living in the same city, it was inevitable that sightings came up with her dog at fresh pond.. she looked wan, and kind. She talks in the book about being smashed at lunch, but being able to function. I once met someone who worked with her, who said, actually, on those days she came back from lunch impaired, she couldn't do a thing, and everyone just let her be. very helpful metaphors throughout "i deserve this now" .. good to pair with Pete ...more
Aug 30, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, my favorite quote is, from the first chapter:

"Trying to describe the process of becoming an alcoholic is like trying to describe air. It's too big and mysterious and pervasive to be defined. Alcohol is everywhere in your life, omnipresent, and you're both aware and unaware of it almost all the time, all you know is you'd die without it, and there is no simple reason why this happens, no single moment, no physiological event that pushes a heavy drinker across a concrete line into alcoholi
Gerry Pirani
Aug 31, 2015 Gerry Pirani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous on many levels, this book will take you on the nightmarish journey resulting from alcoholism. Articulate, brilliant, talented Knapp brings you through the bowels of hell and back with her as she struggles to overcome the addiction. Powerful writing detailing the pain of this path. A must read for anyone inflicted with alcoholism and for anyone still trying to figure out who's in charge - the alcohol or you.
Sep 26, 2012 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you're from another planet, just a visitor who's never been to Earth before, this book might be interesting to you.

If you're a teetotaler who has never had a drink in your life, and you've also lived all alone in a cabin in the woods for your entire existence, this book might be informative and enthralling to you.

But if you've ever watched a movie or read a book or imbibed alcohol or met someone who has imbibed alcohol, this book is one big DUH.

You mean to tell me that alcohol makes people le
Brian DiMattia
Jul 05, 2009 Brian DiMattia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are no miracles in this book, only work. It's about the hard work an alcoholic puts themself through in order to continue a lifestyle they know they shouldn't. It's about the harder work they have to go through to leave that lifestyle behind. And it's about the hardest work of a life. Just living it, honestly, without giving in to all the things that make you feel like you won't ever manage to quite live it right.

You say: Help. And the amazing thing is, you find it.
Page 245

Lisa Fluet
very good stairmaster'll spend half the time being annoyed with this pretentious chick, and half the time wanting a glass of wine/beer/tequila shot. Not that drinking isn't a complicated love story for all of us--but she seems to think her love story with the bottle is on a heathcliff/catherine earnshaw level. Whereas the rest of us are at, apparently, more of a harlequin novel level.

ok--as I've spent more time on the stairmaster with this chick--and on the subway (since she's als
Jun 22, 2015 Meri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Caroline Knapp threw my assumptions about alcoholics on their heads. She tears the veil off of the female alcoholic, a type that we prefer to think doesn't exist. She was a high functioning alcoholic up until the end, holding a professional job and paying her bills on time. This memoir is brutally honest about her slow descent into alcoholism: the denial, the depression, the havoc it wreaked with her relationships. She reveals all the little ways that she deceived herself into thinking that she ...more
Mar 03, 2009 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i've read this book approx 15 times. because it's great? NO! because i was in spain for 2 months and only had 4 or 5 books written in english and didn't know anyone else there. the first read was okay, but even then seemed repititous and self-indulgent. i applaud the author's putting it all on paper, but didn't enjoy her writing style or her constant retelling of what it's like for alcoholics. she never seemed to let down her guard and talk honestly about what things were like for her ...more
Susan Barnett
Nov 19, 2012 Susan Barnett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent and harrowing account of an alcoholic's struggles and her eventual sobriety, detailed with brutal honesty. I began this book a couple of months ago, while still drinking but wanting to quit - knowing that i would be quitting - and ended it sober. It has been the perfect companion for my own journey to sobriety. Very sorry Ms. Knapp died so young but happy that she died alcohol-free, and awed that she managed to convey so eloquently what so many battle.
Jan 07, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Drug on a little too long. I wanted to read the subject of "Let's Take The Long Way Home" though, so it was worth it.
Stacy Lorence
Dec 25, 2015 Stacy Lorence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
“The real struggle is about you: you, a person who has to learn to live in the real world, to inhabit her own skin, to know her own heart, to stop waiting for life to begin.”
Jan 07, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this smart memoir and recommend it to readers who enjoy memoir, psychological interiority, and the subjects of alcoholism and addiction. Knapp's chronicle of her twenty-year love affair with alcohol is a gripping, sensual read. Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith said, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." I feel that Knapp successfully let the blood pour into this memoir and that's what I enjoyed most of all. She leads the reader into ...more
Mar 07, 2013 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated this book for it's honesty and the author's clear desire to describe a condition that affects many people, but without the clichéd trappings of what we think constitutes being an alcoholic. Her personal experiences were real and relate-able, and with the possible exceptions of the specifics of her life - her psychoanalyst father and upper middle class lifestyle spent summering in Martha's Vineyard, for example - she seems just like one of "us".

Knapp was a "highly functioning" alco
Feb 18, 2016 Dani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Drinking a love story

Page 80- "The deeper connections between alcohol and self-worth and sexuality, the way women (at least women like me) use alcohol to deaden a wide range of conflicted feelings - longing for intimacy and terror of it; a wish to merge with others and a fear of being consumed; profound uncertainty about how and when to maintain boundaries and how and when to let them down - weren't addressed with much texture or depth."

Page 108- "There's something about sober living and sober t
Jessica Rmz
This is a crude insight into an alcoholic's mind. It is raw, and very exposed. It is a detailed story in how a person can loose control gradually over the years and the worst part it was by personal choice.

In some sense I agree with her, that this society is stained by the ever constant figure of alcohol, that there is no way a person can avoid a hundred percent to feel tempted to try it at least once, because it is available to everyone and it is pushed in every social situation.

I felt sorry f
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2016 Reading Chal...: Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp 1 22 Mar 23, 2015 07:07PM  
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Caroline Knapp was an American writer and columnist whose candid best-selling memoir Drinking: A Love Story recounted her 20-year battle with alcoholism.

From 1988-95, she was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, where her column "Out There" often featured the fictional "Alice K." In 1994, those columns were collected in her first book, Alice K's Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity
More about Caroline Knapp...

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“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.” 85 likes
“To a drinker the sensation is real and pure and akin to something spiritual: you seek; in the bottle, you find.” 36 likes
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