Drinking: A Love Story
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Drinking: A Love Story

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  8,438 ratings  ·  596 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 alco...more
Paperback, 286 pages
Published May 12th 1997 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 1992)
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Jimmy
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
Abailart
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...more
Diane
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...more
Kathy
Quotable:
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...more
Michele
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...more
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 5 of 5 stars
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,...more
Thomas
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...more
Suzanne
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...more
Sophie
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.
Sheila
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...more
Bill
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
Amanda Brown
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...more
Brian DiMattia
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 all...living 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

I'v...more
Alexis
Oct 16, 2011 Alexis rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
David Groves
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...more
Kate
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...more
Lisa Fluet
very good stairmaster reading...you'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...more
Kelly
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 specifical...more
Susan Barnett
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.
Linnie Greene
After a night of overindulgence (that's putting it gently), reading this book felt more urgent -- it's been sitting on my bookshelf for a month or so now, and I felt like the stars had finally aligned. Nothing like a hangover to make you wonder whether you should cut back.

I've always questioned my penchant for addiction memoirs, and this was no exception (am I a voyeur? Do I also abuse substances? Am I grappling with my own demons?). For now, I'm just shrugging and drinking lots of green tea.

I...more
Peggy
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.
Sara
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...more
Andrea Vazzano
Stunning stunning stunning. Knapp's brave and honest account of her alcoholism is the best addiction memoir I've read. Never self-pitying, always beautiful, and razor-sharp in its insight into the psyche of an addict. This is not one of those memoirists bent on understanding the state of alcoholism in America today, interviewing specialists and policy-makers. This is a woman quietly and humbly reflecting on her demons. I've heard complaints that the book is meandering, circling back on itself so...more
Eva
A reasonably interesting and quick read, with insight into the life and experience of an alcoholic. Kindle quotes:

a workspace so compulsively tidy that one of my staff writers used to say you could fly a plane over my desk and it would look like a map of the Midwest, everything at perfect right angles. - location 241

Sometimes, if we couldn’t sleep at night, he’d set a chair in the hall outside our bedroom and count out loud. We’d listen to the counting and drift off and in the morning he’d tell...more
Jenny
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 th...more
Abbi Dion
Simply one of the best books I've read in my life.

Excerpt:
She wrote, "I withdrew in other, more subtle ways. My husband used to say, 'When Nan gets bombed, she goes off into some little room in her mind, and pulls down the shade.'"

That line stuck with me for many years. It was quite unlike anything I'd ever read about drinking or drunks, quite contrary to the images of alcohol I'd encountered in the past: the manly and tough drinker, or the smooth and elegant drinker. "She goes off into some lit...more
Cindy Peng
I thought the metaphorical conceit a little gimmicky (she only really mentions the "love affair" at the beginning at the end of the book, so it was obviously just for editorial flair), and I ended up skipping the last few pages (the only time, during her recovery, that she gets overwhelmingly syrupy), but in all this was a riveting and deeply honest book. I read it in two days, it was unputdownable. The author was an editor from Massachusetts, and as someone also from Massachusetts I felt an esp...more
Suezy Proctor
Knapp paints a brutal but accurate picture of the damage alcoholism can inflict on an individual and the people around them. Alcohol wreaked havoc and despaired dysfunction on my mother and most people around her. I never got over the fact that my mother chose alcohol over me or my brothers, or even herself, knowing the damage it caused. Knapp opened my eyes to certain behavior I have as a result of my mother’s addiction and behavior and how those things hang over me like a menacing cloud. Thoug...more
Amy
I found this book in my mother's library. She's never read it, but picked up a copy some years ago. I'd just left a relationship with an alcoholic - a short relationship, but long enough to see the effect and feel the heartbreak of watching someone deliberately hurt themselves over and over. What I love about this book though - and I'm no newbie to the disease, how it manifests, what it looks like, and how it effects those in the vicinity - but Knapp's raw telling of her story touches on base hu...more
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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
More about Caroline Knapp...
Appetites: Why Women Want Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays Alice K's Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity, and the Perfect NewShoes Facture

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“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.” 53 likes
“To a drinker the sensation is real and pure and akin to something spiritual: you seek; in the bottle, you find.” 28 likes
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