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Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  178 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Whether you drink it or not, alcohol is likely a potent part of your life: our culture is saturated in it. Ask any woman you know to tell you a drinking story, and she’ll come up with one—in fact, she may even come up with five. With friends and with coworkers, at date night and at ladies' night, and on special occasions ranging from Valentine’s Day to the Super Bowl, we ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Seal Press
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The Drunken Botanist by Amy  StewartWishful Drinking by Carrie FisherThe Cider House Rules by John IrvingAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea HandlerRoute Number 11 by Harry Whitewolf
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5th out of 25 books — 10 voters
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42nd out of 99 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

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emma kate tsai
Sep 20, 2012 emma kate tsai rated it really liked it
Yes, I wrote an essay in this compilation, but after receiving it at the launch party and meeting some of the extraordinary contributors to the book, I decided to make my way through it. Which I did, in about three days. This is not a book about alcoholism, or revelry, but a book about drinking. Yes, about struggles with alcohol, but also pleasure, nostalgia, family, culture, relationships, children. Some essays are more gripping than others, and there is something about the honesty with ...more
Nadine Toussaint
Nov 25, 2012 Nadine Toussaint rated it did not like it
Drinking diaries was chosen as my book clubs read of the month. Read the description - sounded great! I was stoked to read the book. The rating was in the 4s so I knew it would be somewhat I thought.

As I read the first couple of stories I was waiting for it to get good. For me, it was hard to get into and it didn't mesh well together.

I decided to investigate and see what other reviewers were saying. To my dismay, the majority of the reviewers were writers in the book.

Look, I don't
K. Daniels
Nov 08, 2012 K. Daniels rated it really liked it
I thought the book's stories were interestingly chosen. A couple of the stories only had alcohol as a peripheral view. Some authors reflected on the alcohol around them, and my favorites, were the author's stories of alcohol's grip on them, whether past or present. My favorite books to read entertains as well as teaches, and Drinking Diaries accomplishes this.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krista Danis
Mar 27, 2014 Krista Danis rated it it was amazing
Drinking Diaries emphasizes the complexities of women's relationships with alcohol. The collection opens with the Pam Houston piece, mapping her terrifying legacy of passenger-status car accidents against the timeline and backdrop of a childhood with alcoholic parents. The factual (sometimes humorous) presentation is somewhat misrepresentative of the emotional implications inherent in her experience.

These various stories illustrate the nuanced and insightful depth with which women interact with
Theresa K Read
Sep 16, 2012 Theresa K Read rated it it was amazing
From Whitman and his early temperance novel to Hemingway and Steinbeck's shilling of Ballantine Beer, a lot has been said and written about male authors and their perverse affair with liquor. With Drinking Diaries, women writers give us their side of the story. This is simply a fascinating read. It is refreshing to review the struggle for moderation written about such utter honesty. It is impossible not to recognize yourself in these pages. Thanks Leah and Caren and contributors for this candid ...more
Oct 24, 2012 Monica rated it it was ok

An interesting themed collection - who would think that drinking could unite so many woman in such diverse ways. I found the collection of essays somewhat uneven- my favorites were by Maynard and Harrison- they seemed so honest and subtle. Some of the essays felt young- written by new authors who still focused on the extremes rather than the subtle nuances and complexities. All in all, an enjoyable read!
May 04, 2013 Hope rated it liked it
As a female who only very occasionally drinks, I found this collection of essays to be insightful into some of the larger issues of women and alcohol. It is neither preachy or endorseful... Not ever coming to a definitive answer, but acknowledging the complexities of the issues.
Brian Brooks
Nov 08, 2013 Brian Brooks rated it really liked it
Cunning, baffling, powerful, repeat. And honest.
Melissa Wuest
Sep 18, 2013 Melissa Wuest rated it really liked it
Feb 19, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like getting together with a few good friends who share my love of alcohol. I have had my own ups and downs with alcohol, and the stories that these women wrote were poignant, funny, and at times sad. I could relate to the women who felt so shy and inhibited they needed a drink to go out in social gatherings. Or the author who had to pour herself a glass of wine at 5 pm to signify the end of the work day. I appreciate the honesty these writers displayed. Not all of them ...more
Sep 07, 2013 Heather rated it did not like it
By the end of this book I hated it. I had high excitement and high expectations. The first couple of stories were okay, I kept waiting for the agonizing tales of alcoholism, and the painstaking journey through recovery. While the writing was good, it was almost too good. I felt like they stories had been polished so much that the horror of alcoholism was polished away. There were no gut wrenching tales of losing children, losing jobs, spending time in jail, everyone just quit drinking like it ...more
May 27, 2013 msdanconia rated it liked it
Make no mistake before you pick this book up - every one of the personal accounts is a heavy journey. The stories will make you uncomfortably intimate with the drinking habits and experiences of women of all ages and walks of life, and make you consider your own drinking more closely. As the granddaughter of a Russian woman and the niece of an uncle who died of liver disease, I have always been aware of the risks drinking entails, alongside its pleasures. This book, however, challenges the ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Liz rated it liked it
Often we think our story is unique but it is through other stories we reflect to understand our story better & realize the commonalities that exist frequently across similar lines - generations, cultures, etc. This compilation of short stories hits on every different view of drinking - bad, good, indifferent, convinced it is family curse or convinced you are not, etc. Some stories are written better than others. I was very excited to read this book but left disappointed that there wasn't ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Lynnie rated it liked it
Shelves: library
2 1/2 stars really- the writing was really great, but the book itself felt like it could have used some editing as in the end, it felt several stories too long.

An interesting collection about how alcohol has played a part in the lives of many different women, good, bad, or otherwise- there are the obvious cautionary tales of addiction, whether their own or how that of a family member affected their own relationship with alcohol, but each were unique in their own way. But there were also stories
Shelley McEuen
Sep 06, 2013 Shelley McEuen rated it really liked it
I was sent a link to their blog which I enjoyed immensely, and the book is a compilation of some of the most compelling stories women shared on the website. I am intrigued by the idea of alcohol playing such a large role in our cultural fabric, specifically with women. Having grown up in a family culture that exemplified both healthy and unhealthy alcohol use, this collection feels both familiar and horrifying. To ask the question of how and when we choose to partake in alcohol use intrigues me, ...more
Deborah Bluminberg
Oct 20, 2012 Deborah Bluminberg rated it liked it
This is a compilation of essays about drinking. Many, if not all, of the contributors are writers, so each essay is extremely well written. On one level, these essays are about alcoholic parents, drunk driving accidents, puking and other less than desirable situations. On a somewhat deeper level, these essays are about lack of self-esteem. insecurities, self-criticism and other maladies of the soul. Reading 2-3 of these essays would be interesting; reading an entire book of them got a little ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Jessica rated it liked it
I feel like there is a better book that could be written on this subject (and maybe already has, and I just missed it). Some of the essays were very insightful, but others struck me as completely superficial, not much more than, "I went to college and people drank a lot." Well, yes. Some of the stories of children growing up with alcholic parents were very moving, though. A fast and fairly entertaining read overall.
Mar 28, 2013 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Best New Books of 2012 to flash if you want to pick up at girl who has Klonopin in her purse: Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up is an anthology of essays edited by Caren Osten Gerszberg and Leah Odzen Epstein. Women who will share the intimate details of their relationship with booze are likely to be slightly socially awkward, and undoubtedly have boundary issues. This book will call to them to the yard.
Feb 05, 2015 Michelle rated it did not like it
Some of the essays were better than others but overall this book was just OK. Way more stories of alcohol leading to horrible events than stories of people with a healthy relationship with alcohol. This book may even lead you to think there is no such thing as a healthy relationship with alcohol. Thought provoking but also depressing.
Jun 14, 2013 Cyndy rated it liked it
Collection of short stories about drinking. The authors are professional writers (at least it seemed like it) so the stories are well written. Some of them are better than others. One story in particular struck a chord and I wish a member of my family would read it. It made me feel better about my own drinking after reading it.
Mary Helene
Apr 07, 2014 Mary Helene rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The sheer range of voices and the compelling honesty with which they speak has affected how I look at and think about drinking. The stories highlight the complex social network in which we drink, the rewards and the cost. I liked the arrangement of the stories which, if not exactly to topic, move in a flow and turn up surprising finds. Example? How we lie to ourselves.
Literary Mama
Mar 12, 2013 Literary Mama added it
Shelves: essays
Drinking Diaries does not admonish or even advise. The book simply shares many different stories of the force of alcohol—destructive, emancipatory, celebratory—in women’s lives.

Read Literary Mama's full review here:
Jan 21, 2016 Julie rated it it was ok
I thought this was going to be a funny book, and was disappointed to find it was just a collection of short stories written by women about their experiences with alcohol. They were just good enough to keep me reading to the end, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to anyone.
Jan 02, 2013 Courtney rated it really liked it
Pretty entertaining. Although, I do think there should be more stories "celebrating" alcohol rather than demonizing it. There were a few, but for the most part, this is from people who don't drink anymore. Duds.
Raechelle Thomas
Feb 03, 2014 Raechelle Thomas rated it really liked it
Most of the stories in here I could relate to on some level; some against drinking, some with a healthy relationship with alcohol. There were a couple of stories I found completely irrelevant and boring; but for the most part a good read.
Mandii DiNozzo
Apr 19, 2016 Mandii DiNozzo rated it really liked it
collection of stories, some stories were longer than others, some stories are more dynamic than others. Overall the book is enjoyable and I though it was an easy light read.
Feb 22, 2013 Dylan rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this- short stories were just what I needed but some were good and some were random and together I just put it back on the shelf. Maybe another day../
Jan 04, 2016 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Excellent stories by a variety of writers who either are alcoholics or grew up in alcoholic families. Highly recommended.
Gioia Rizzo
Sep 20, 2013 Gioia Rizzo rated it liked it
I was expecting a bit more lighthearted humor here and there but instead I found more darkness and sorrow behind the scenes.
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