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Her Best-Kept Secret: Inside the Private Lives of Women Who Drink

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  398 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
In the first book to document that American women are drinking more often than ever, and in ever-larger quantities, journalist Gabrielle Glaser explores the reasons behind this hiding-in-plain-sight epidemic—and why the most common remedy for it, enrollment in AA, is particularly ineffective.

Gabrielle Glaser began noticing a shift in culture after the birth of her third c
ebook, 256 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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(showing 1-30 of 1,151)
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Jenny Sullivan
Jul 16, 2013 Jenny Sullivan rated it did not like it
Being a member of AA, I was very interested to read this book. I did enjoy much of the historical account of drinking, especially how it pertains to women. The marketing of wine to the American Housewife was hilarious. I see people posting about needing wine, or other booze, at the end of the day, to deal with kids, husbands, etc- and it is totally accepted. The fact that this author went to TEN meetings of AA is a ridiculously small amount to be writing about it as she did. 90 meetings in 90 da ...more
May 24, 2013 Naomi rated it did not like it
Read my full review:

My opinion: As a former addictions counselor who specialized in adolescent female addictions, I must be honest in stating that this is THE WORST book on special populations addictions I have ever read. It was much more of a 196 page drama central magazine article, AA bashing bonanza, and advertisement for an alternative treatment program, which in the way Ms. Glaser wrote about the program I had to wonder if she doesn't have an investment in the organiza
Joy Matteson
May 20, 2013 Joy Matteson rated it really liked it
Ms. Glaser has done three years of research on the relationship between women and alcohol. She has interviewed multiple women for this book, and did extensive background research on Alcoholics Anonymous, and taken the time to gather many statistics on the effects of alcohol on women. I think many people know that alcohol can affect women much more quickly and detrimentally than men (which is unfair! Ugh.), but Ms. Glaser also tells you why this is the case.
I can tell many people will not like t
Jun 20, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing
Long overdue exposure of the revolving door con came that "rehab" is in the U.S. - especially for women. Also accurately reports on the failure of AA to protect women, as well as its terrible "success" rate for anyone.

Along with Fletcher's recent "Inside Rehab" it seems we're finally getting some accurate reporting on what actually works to offset 75 years of AA's mythology and failure.
Jul 08, 2013 Counselorchick rated it it was amazing
First of all, we should all be thanking Gabrielle for this most important work. It's about time. For those of us who have been working for years to reveal the truth behind the lies of 12 step programs, this work is long overdue. Glaser's perspective comes from a journalistic viewpoint. She has no horse in the game other than the truth. The journalistic truth. The care for women. Hopefully, this will give steppers pause with their typical "you're killing alcoholics by turning them away from AA," ...more
Aug 03, 2013 Pamela rated it really liked it
Interesting history of how AA deals and.has dealt with women who have a drinking problem opposed to men. The double standard infiltrates every area of our lives. Trying to juggle careers, marriage, raising a family, keeping the household organized and the stressors of the world, many women, it seems, have turned to alcohol. Not all become alcoholics of course but it has become an issue in our society. Interesting read.
Feb 28, 2015 Terri rated it really liked it
This is an interesting study of how we treat alcoholism and women in this country. Women are drinking more than ever.That's good news/bad news. Good news is that women drink because they can, it's more socially acceptable, a good thing. Bad news is that their bodies can't handle it and out of control drinking is on the rise. The author makes the point that men's recovery (AA model) doesn't always work for women. Women are different from men, doh. 12 step approaches may not work.
There is a large
Cara Fox
Jul 24, 2013 Cara Fox rated it liked it
Came across this book and thought it would be an interesting read after a series of joking conversations with other mom friends about how we drink so much more since we became moms, or (for those of us who work) drink so much more on the days we are home with our kids. This was a quick and interesting read, although not what I expected going into it. It was a pretty thoroughly researched account of the history of alcohol and women - how attitudes and perceptions of women who drink have changed o ...more
Sep 11, 2013 Intplibrarian rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
This is a great book for an introduction. In other words, it does NOT get heavily into the science and the studies it references. You'll have to do that on your own if you want more detail, but unlike at least half of addictions books it DOES include those evidence-based references.

I've seen other reviews upset that the author "bashed" AA. Honestly, I don't think she did... she merely explained why some people don't find that the ideal solution AND explained, with citations, why. She never says
Sep 13, 2013 Gail rated it it was amazing
I love books that push my envelope. Never questioning judges, courts, treatment advertisements; I thought faith based 12 step programs were the only options an abuser of alcohol had to find and maintain sobriety. Having to create some kind of higher power and give up oneself to that higher power was counterintuitive. Because of Glazer's impeccable research, a new world of recovery has become available to those living this nightmare all the while blaming themselves and suffering the guilt of bein ...more
Liz Shine
A smart, open-minded analysis of the psychology and history behind women and alcohol consumption in the United States. I found Glaser's approach informative and refreshing. Though I consider myself educated and informed, I have never come across a smart look at alcohol. I've always felt that the story we tell ourselves as a society about alcohol is too emotional, isolating and damning to many. A well-researched, thought-provoking book that raises important questions about the status quo.
Jul 12, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok
AA isn't for everyone, but it works for a lot of people--including a lot of women (one of them being me). Also, it's everywhere, and unlike Glaser's pricey "Twenty-First Century treatment," it's absolutely free. More about the book and the issue in my piece for the Atlantic:
Dec 26, 2013 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Initially I expected this book to be judgmental of women who drink, but on the contrary it was a very insightful examination on exactly that cultural bias. From the early advertisements to sell wine to women to the unwelcoming response they receive when seeking help, Her Best-Kept Secret covered the full range of the female perspective on alcohol consumption and abuse. As a woman who chooses to imbibe responsibly and in moderation, I was both shocked and fascinated by the reported indiscretions ...more
Dale Stonehouse
Jan 05, 2014 Dale Stonehouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important book as a stepping stone to fully exposing 12-step programs for what they have always been - an attempt to restore addicted people to making a contribution to a growing economy. More than that, it exposes the shabby treatment women receive too often in AA groups, up to and including sexual abuse and rape. Even absent this evidence, the traditional approach to substance abuse has never worked for those for whom trauma in childhood or as adults is the root cause and the ad ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Olderworker rated it it was ok
Not a well written book. The author cites a lot of anecdotal evidence that women are drinking more, e.g. mentions that her friends, all of whom seem to be upper middle class Caucasian women, drink so much Chardonnay that they have to discard the bottles secretly.
Then, she denigrates AA, saying that too many men in the program take sexual advantage of new female members -- possibly true, but why not simply suggest AA groups specifically for women? Such groups do exist. Also, she recommends some
Jeannie Long
Mar 12, 2016 Jeannie Long rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting study on the cultural history of women and alcohol and how the treatment of problem drinking has evolved over time. Did you know that in colonial days, people drank lots of beer because water was unsafe to drink?

I was one of the women who was interviewed by the author for this book. I agree that society puts high expectations on us to have careers, be good wives to our husbands, good mothers to our children, and good daughters to our aging parents. This pressure can lead t
Tipsy Lit
Apr 24, 2014 Tipsy Lit rated it it was amazing
Right out the gate I need to make a confession. When I was approached for this assignment I thought it was an adult contemporary novel which is my genre of choice. Happily I agreed to review a novel called, “Her Best Kept Secret” by author Gabrielle Glaser. Imagine my surprise when the book showed up and the full tile was, “Her Best Kept Secret – Why Women Drink – And How They Can Regain Control. This story provides endless entertainment for my girlfriends who know I love my wine and write eroti ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Tifnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I originally checked out this book at the library thinking it might be a funny spin on why women drink, unfortunately, I was in for a (pleasant) surprise in that it actually dove into statistics of women drinking and AA.

Basically Her Best-Kept Secret...takes the reader on a journey from the early 20's to current time. Early on women were scorned if they touched alcohol. That if a man drank beer it was to relax after a long day working and macho, but if a woman drank beer she had a problem and wa
Jul 29, 2015 Geoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of you might not know this about me, but when I have a problem that I don’t know how to deal with my first response is to research it as in-depth as possible. That makes it a bit awkward when I blog about everything I read (this is my journal reading journal as much as it is your review site). At the same time it’s great because I get to share interesting books, like Her Best-Kept Secret, that I never would have read. And I force myself to explore and synthesize in-depth a lot of topics.

May 03, 2014 Alexa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Interesting historical perspective on women and alcohol, with some critique of AA toward the second half of the book. Well, not a critique of the 12 steps exactly, but a bit of historical context on women's role (or lack thereof) in the formation of the program, the lack of good studies done on the effectiveness of the program (which the author admits would be hard to do, given the "anonymous" part of AA--but she questions why it's the go-to program given that reality), and the fact that it's mo ...more
Tara Hun-Dorris
Aug 17, 2013 Tara Hun-Dorris rated it liked it
This is a short, easy read. I like the author's general question of why we don't treat addiction with evidence-based approaches as we do other chronic diseases. However, I do not trust her use of numbers/data, and the research probably could have been more in-depth.
Mar 10, 2014 Anni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. Should have been longer. I've been intrigued for some time the fascination of women with wine. Interesting history on prohibition and the women that were in Favor of it (and against it). Also, unique take on women in AA which the book basically made seem like a molest fest against women.

It wasn't super "self help" which was good because it was not why I was drawn to it. I wanted to read about the societal impact of what appears to be a relatively new fascination of women and w
Mar 07, 2016 TC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-researched book (twenty pages of end-notes!) that covers a lot of topics on the subject of drinking among upper-middle-class women in the US.

The underlying argument presented is that, due to social stigma dating back centuries, the problem of drinking among women is treated as more "shameful" than for men. And because of that, the treatment of alcoholism for women has not been properly addressed, with women being forced to shoehorn into techniques devised for men.

The author clear
Kate Buntenbach
Jul 31, 2014 Kate Buntenbach rated it did not like it
Gabrielle Glaser should have stuck to the historical aspect of women and alcohol because that is as far as her knowledge goes. Her assertions are ridiculous and she is definitely not an authority on addiction. This book will likely do more harm than good for any woman struggling with alcohol. AA is certainly not the only path to sobriety but her arguments against it are complete bullshit and anecdotal at best. This book did not provide any great alternatives to AA so I am left just scratching my ...more
Aug 29, 2013 Kasia rated it liked it
This book starts off as "Lean In" with a glass of wine. I was most interested in this first quarter which discusses why women's drinking is becoming so common. It discusses the history of women's association with alcohol (fascinating!) and continues to discuss societal pressures on women today, i.e. especially those charged with full child-rearing responsibilities and those trying vainly to balance work-and-home, and how these pressures compare to those of yesteryear (leading them to drink). Thi ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Patricia rated it liked it
I think it discusses some of the reasoning why many women drink to excess these days, though I feel that the answers she give are only accessible to wealthy women. What she should have gone into are other approaches to 12 step programs as well as research and other books people can read. I also felt like she didn't provide enough empirical evidence regarding how the working mother's role is still 100% working and 100% mother.

Apr 11, 2014 Joyce rated it it was ok
Shelves: substance-abuse
Found some interesting ideas in here. I'm a little disappointed at the narrow niche of women who drink that is portrayed - primarily middle or upper class women who use wine to excess. The author makes some disturbing points about AA and gives a nice plug to a couple who run a 5-day retreat in California. But overall, this only looks at a sliver of the alcohol problem and perhaps the easiest sliver to treat.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for posting my honest review.

Her Best-Kept Secret wasn’t what I thought it would be from the description on Goodreads. I made it through the first three chapters and then decided not to finish reading the book. From what I did read, I felt that the author is presenting the history of alcohol and Americans, citing many statistics along the way, with an emphasis on what she feels is proof of a steady rise in alcoh
Aug 11, 2014 Lurdes rated it liked it
Drawing from statistics, news trends and social mores, Glaser explores how dramatically the relationship between women and drinking has evolved in the last century. She dedicates plenty of pages exploring how AA may not be the most suitable treatment option for females and too few pages delving into more effective approaches, but the book still contains lots of worthwhile insights.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for posting my honest review.

Her Best-Kept Secret wasn’t what I thought it would be. I made it through the first three chapters and then decided not to finish reading the book. From what I did read, I felt that the author is presenting the history of alcohol and Americans, citing many statistics along the way, with an emphasis on what she feels is proof of a steady rise in alcohol consumption by American women o
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Gabrielle Glaser is the best-selling author of Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control.

Glaser grew up in Tangent, Oregon, the Grass Seed Capital of the World (pop. 440). She spent her teenage summers driving John Deere combines on her family farm, listening to an unusual mix of local radio programming: the BeeGees, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, and NPR. She was an indiff
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