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The Book of Drugs: A Memoir

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  1,213 Ratings  ·  209 Reviews
Mike Doughty first came to prominence as the leader of the band Soul Coughing then did an abrupt sonic left turn, much to the surprise of his audience, transforming into a solo performer of stark, dusky, but strangely hopeful tunes. He battled addiction, gave up fame when his old band was at the height of its popularity, drove thousands of miles, alone, across America, wit ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Da Capo Press
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Susie
Jan 12, 2012 Susie rated it it was amazing
Pardon the rambling, this one's a tough one for me.

In addition to reading this memoir (which alternates between typically Doughty-ish wit and sincerely jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching resentment and struggle) my beloved cat/companion of 14 years passed away this week in my arms. The combination of the two experiences has created this cocktail of gloom for me; longing for the pre-pain past, a simpler time, when Peechee (my cat) was new to me, a surreal addition to my life and death wasn't imminent, a
...more
Bkwyrm
Jun 08, 2012 Bkwyrm rated it it was ok
I regret reading this book. I picked it up because I was a fan of Mr. Doughty. I can honestly say that after reading this, I'm not a fan anymore. And I'm sort of sorry I ever was.
This is what I took away from The Book of Drugs: Mike Doughty hates himself, hates everyone he's ever worked with, hates his family, hates his (former) fans, hates his (former) band, hates people who do/did drugs, hates people who didn't do drugs, hates people in recovery, hates people not in recovery, hates people in t
...more
Kim
Apr 01, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
If I were to say, break loose of my handlers, (those people who feel, however warranted it may seem, that I need constant overseeing less I make some terrible life altering decision that they don’t approve of) and I were to create a what are they called---post? Entry? Ad? on Craig’s List for a ‘mate’, it might read something like this:
Wanted:
Emotionally damaged man-boy, preferably in early 40s so that my clever references are not wasted; must have a sordid drug history and be totally crippled f
...more
Moira Russell
A little too much about how much he hates his ex-bandmates and a lot too much about all the women he fucked, but this book is actually well-written -- thoughtful, plainspoken without being choppy, quiet and unassuming, but also honestly laugh-out-loud funny at over half a dozen points. There's a sense of perspective you don't get in so many of today's sobriety memoirs -- the pattern seems to be: get mildly/somewhat/very famous, get sobered up, get book deal. As a result a lot of sobriety memoirs ...more
Jim
Mar 10, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Recovering artists; artists in recovery
Shelves: 2012
This is a tough book to recommend. If you like stories about rock and roll debauchery, Book of Drugs won't disappoint, but Soul Coughing, by the author's own admission, is a very minor band, which limits it appeal. If you like stories about recovery, you might find Doughty's approach more alarming than assuaging. Flinchingly honest account of one man's journey through drug abuse, addiction and recovery. I twisted the cliche because Doughty is like most addicts: neither courageous nor consistent, ...more
Michael
Nov 08, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Part review, part confession.

Thanks to my ex Krystyn putting 'True Dreams of Wichita' on a mixtape in 1995, I was and am a Soul Coughing nerd. I mean, NERD. I managed to see them four times locally before they broke up, I slummed with the 'bass player' before a Boulder show, I went to a CD release party an hour early because I thought I would be crowded. (it wasn't.) It took me a long time to appreciate Doughty's solo career. His music skewed in a different direction and it didn't speak to me in
...more
Erin
Mar 03, 2012 Erin rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm a hundred pages into this and trying to decide whether to stick it out. Because here's the thing: I like Soul Coughing's music. I really like Mike Doughty's music. But it turns out that I really, really don't like MIKE DOUGHTY. And I don't know if I should keep reading, and hope that there is some sort of turnaround where I feel like I haven't wasted the time and money I spent on this book trying to fight back the indignant rage that is festering inside me as I read it, or if I should chuck ...more
Ashley
Jan 22, 2012 Ashley rated it did not like it
I've been a fan of Mike's for years. I saw Soul Coughing on their first tour, and have seen every show of his in my town up until a few years ago when I could no longer afford to. I was a user on his website, followed his blog and I purchased this book on pre-order. While I really enjoyed his style of writing and word choice, I have little to no respect for him after reading this book. He comes off as an arrogant prick and while he writes about feeling insecure, it is obviously not the case anym ...more
G.d. Brennan
Nov 13, 2012 G.d. Brennan rated it it was amazing
I might be a little biased, but I enjoyed this book tremendously.

I’m probably one of the few people in my age bracket (mid-30s) who came across Mike Doughty neither through his band Soul Coughing, nor through his solo career, nor through his writing, but because I knew his father, who was head of the history department at West Point when I was a cadet, and who coached me through my senior thesis. The elder Doughty, now a retired general, was (and is) a tremendously respected historian, one of th
...more
Zach
Feb 13, 2012 Zach rated it it was amazing
I'm not usually one to pick up a memoir, and I would approach the drug confession of a rock star with even more trepidation, but Mike Doughty has been a writer for almost as long as he's been a musician, so his book, more than just being a chronicle of his fall and recovery, contains real literary merit.

It starts out with an almost anecdotal format, little stories of Doughty's young life given to us in short sections, sometimes less than a page. These little stories range from the amusing to the
...more
Amy
Feb 26, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
dear m. doughty,
i don't care that you hate soul coughing. i don't care that you fucked, like, 50 women at least on several tours. i don't care that you played most of those shows with soul coughing high. i don't care that you were a bad boyfriend. i don't care that you yelled at some interview kid at some college show. i don't care that you were a junkie plus addicted to a shitload of other drugs. i don't care that you talk badly about your friend that died a tragic, but possibly stupid, death.
...more
Jessica
Aug 12, 2012 Jessica rated it liked it
I'm one of those Soul Coughing fans whom former lead singer Mike Doughty predicted would be heartbroken by this book. I really wasn't prepared for the level of hatred that Doughty has for his old band members and life style. That said, it was weirdly fun to relive the 90s vicariously through the former drug addict, rock star, club doorman and NY Press writer. I particularly liked figuring out who his mystery characters were...for example, the "rock legend" who gets him through his early days of ...more
Judy
Apr 25, 2012 Judy rated it did not like it
When the subject of a memoir is as unlikeable as Mike Doughty turned out to be, it's pretty hard to get past that. The endless griping about old bandmates combined with the belief that Soul Coughing could've been super successful if only they would've let him run the show turn this book into a real eye-roller. Women are nothing more than penis ornaments—well, except "Molly Escalator" who sounds a lot like Maggie Estep.

The book's editor is also at fault. Contradictions abound and the timeline is
...more
Lue
Dec 30, 2011 Lue rated it really liked it
The Book of Drugs is not your average "rock n' roll/drug" biography. There's very little glamour in this book - no descriptions of wild backstage parties and hookups with groupies. Rather, it's the raw and honest story a young man (with questionable self-esteem) bullied by bandmates and who increasingly used narcotics to nullify the effects of their negativity. Luckily for us, Doughty left the deleterious band (and drugs) behind, to forge a career as a solo musician with songs that are truer ref ...more
Tony
Apr 04, 2012 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2012
It's the late 90s, and I hear this band that sounds like nothing I have ever heard before. It's a little bit jazzy and a little bit funky and a little bit rap and a little bit soul and a little bit sardonic and a little bit poetic and, well, you get the picture. The drummer is tearing off some awe-inspiringly complicated tempos, the bass player is walking all over a stand up monster, some dweeb on the keys is sampling old-ass pop and blues tunes, answering machine messages, and who knows what al ...more
Nicole Bunge
Dec 26, 2013 Nicole Bunge rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you are (currently) a fan of Soul Coughing DO NOT READ THIS BOOK - it will break your heart.
Not because Mike Doughty was victimized by his bandmates and the industry, but because he somehow blames the fans of the music for this.
I waited two months to write this review, because I've been a fan of M.Doughty for a long time, been to several of his solo concerts over the years, bought his solo albums. My father has worked in drug and alcohol counseling, so I understand the victim mentality. I hav
...more
Neil
Apr 12, 2012 Neil rated it liked it
That voice! (I listened to the audiobook, because... duh!)
I honestly hated "Screenwriter's Blues" when I first heard it on KROQ in LA in '95, but was blown away by "Super Bon Bon" on the radio up in SF (Live 105?) several years later, and then got heavily into their entire catalog, due in large part to that rattly voice and its non-sequiturs.

This book started off really strong with some I-shouldn't-be-laughing family history, and a juxataposed "straightlaced" upbringing at West Point before movi
...more
Doug
Jan 12, 2012 Doug rated it really liked it
I finished this book a couple of days ago, and for some reason it's been following me around. It just won't leave me alone. I'll be walking down the street or brushing my teeth or cooking dinner and a part of the book will pop up in my head. It's like visiting the factory to see the sausage being made, and as a result I don't think I'll ever hear Soul Coughing quite the same way again. And I think I'm okay with that.

Perhaps it has stayed with me because I have someone in my life right now who s
...more
James
Nov 19, 2012 James rated it liked it
I give this three stars because it's the only book you're ever going to read about Soul Coughing. If you loved that band (as I did, wholeheartedly, in high school), and if you love NYC and the Knitting Factory scene of the 90s, then the simple fact that this book was published is reason enough to read it.

As a "drug memoir", though, it's a failure. When it comes to his addictions, his overdose, his squalid drunken days, and his eventual recovery, Doughty tells us the lurid Bukowskian details but
...more
Maashu
Oct 26, 2013 Maashu rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Soul Coughing.

While I really liked this book, I felt at times like it wasn't as eloquently written as I was expecting it to be. I also found that Doughty and I are a lot alike, and not in the best way.

There are no chapters in here, the thing presents itself as a series of anecdotes, jumping around in a slightly Memento-like fashion at times, stretching out in long sections of complete linearity at others. Easy to follow and hard to pin down, like the man himse
...more
Amy
Sep 04, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
I enjoyed Soul Coughing songs in a cold, dispassionate but persistent sort of way, like how I also love working out geometric proofs and logic problems. They crank a part of my brain that can function without nasty complications of emotions that usually override most of life and helped me zone out. After reading this book, even if only an inkling of what Doughty has said about the band is true, the reason the music hit me that way is pretty clear now.

Okay, so also, Mike Doughty is a whiny "artis
...more
Joe
Mar 23, 2012 Joe rated it really liked it
When we saw Doughty up in Albany for his Book of Drugs tour, there was a point during one of the Q&A segments where he said "Hey, I'm just a crazy guy!" Not in the Steve Martin wild-and-crazy guy sense, but in the actually crazy sense. He said it very matter-of-factly, too. And my first reaction, as someone steeped in his solo music for a couple of years now, was "Oh, come on. No you're not."

There's something deeply sane to me about Mike's music. In his songs, he sounds like someone who is
...more
Mark Flanagan
Perhaps my expectations were high. I love Mike Doughty's fabulously jazz-infused poetry, the lyrical element that made Soul Coughing a poetic force, the poetry one still finds in the man's solo efforts. And I had hoped for some sense of the same in this memoir. That was not the case.

The Book of Drugs, while revelatory about an artist whom I admire and whose music I still very much enjoy, was - I'm sorry to say - somewhat dull, lackluster in its crafting and construction. And Doughty's smolderin
...more
Monique
Jan 11, 2012 Monique rated it really liked it
I <3 Mike Doughty's music. The book was an eye-opener. It felt brutally honest. I wanted to reach out and hug him. I already knew he dislikes it when people say pot isn't addictive, but now I have a much better understanding of his perspective. And - is it wrong that I'm kind of jealous that addicts have "meetings" where they can talk about all the fucked up shit in their lives and their inappropriate behavior and have someone say it's okay? Is there something like that for people who've neve ...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
Feb 27, 2012 Fuzzy Gerdes rated it it was amazing
Mike Doughty wrote a book. It's called The Book of Drugs. It's about taking drugs, and then not taking drugs. It's about being in a band, and then not being in a band. It's very, very, very honest. If you are interested in drugs or bands or honesty then you should read this book.
Cadin
Jan 20, 2012 Cadin rated it it was ok
Kind of rambling and choppy. There could have been a few main themes or stories used to tie everything together more.

It was interesting to read about his experience with his bandmates. I never knew their relationship was so adversarial.
Evan
Jan 21, 2015 Evan rated it really liked it
If you happen to be a fan of Mr. Doughty, this is obviously going to appeal to you. Of you have not yet been introduced to Doughty and his poetry, lyrical style and general wacky behavior as singer/poet/playwright/recovering substance abuser and blogger, I'd still recommend the book.
Tyler
Jan 02, 2012 Tyler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: friends, 2012
This was such a brave and powerful book and I recommend it to everyone!
Lizzie
Dec 08, 2011 Lizzie marked it as to-read
!!!!

Seriously yes aahh. I waved my arms around a little bit when I saw this.
Ira
Oct 28, 2016 Ira rated it liked it
When surfing Youtube last week, I was listening to an old interview and concert by Mr. Doughty and he mentioned this book. When I saw it was available at my library, I grabbed it the next day because I wanted to read the memoir of an artist whose music I really like. And, to be clear (for those of you who have read the book), I mean his solo work as I barely have any reference to his Soul Coughing work.

This book was interesting. Doughty is an interesting, thoughtful and very intense writer, but
...more
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