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The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  5,881 ratings  ·  386 reviews
Ever sworn off alcohol for a month and found yourself drinking by the 7th? Think there's 'no point' in just one drink? Welcome! There are millions of us. 64% of Brits want to drink less.

Catherine Gray was stuck in a hellish whirligig of Drink, Make horrible decisions, Hangover, Repeat. She had her fair share of 'drunk tank' jail cells and topless-in-a-hot-tub misadventures
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published December 28th 2017 by Aster
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Alice Caryer
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was such a weird read for me because even though I agreed with everything the author was saying about how fucked up our alcohol obsessed society is, I STILL find myself thinking, "God I'd be a boring loser if I didn't drink." It's something I struggle with every day and I guess all I can say is this book made me realise I'm not alone. I can't say I'm going to definitely choose to be sober any time soon, but this book made me feel like I *could*. ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the author on breakfast TV over the festive period and decided to buy the book after seeing how engaging and down-to-earth she seemed. The book is very much in a similar vein. It’s not at all “preachy” or “annoying” - just sets out Catherine’s story in a way that is easy to relate to. Part autobiography, part health book, there are stories and anecdotes in the book to which we can all relate. While Catherine is now teetotal - and makes no bones about it - this book is useful for anyone who ...more
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
It never ceases to amaze me that although I choose not to drink, I spend a lot of time reading about how and why people don’t and their journeys of recovery. This book is a great read about Catherine’s life before and after getting sober, but it’s also an incredibly practical book with many suggestions for you if you do wish to either cut down or stop drinking. It’s written in a witty and wry way and never judgemental. Interesting and very relevant.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, sober
My first book of 2020. What a good start. I wasn’t sure about this book, but I wanted to read about sobriety from someone else’s perspective. I turn 23 in a few months, and realized, after an unfortunate series of events, I’m not sure if I’ll be drinking much, if at all. This book is down to earth, and heart-warmingly honest. If you’re considering sobriety, or just want to know more for someone else’s sober journey, I would definitely recommend this one.
Magda linga
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
First of all, well done to the author for her sobriety and courage to pen and publish this memoir. Its popularity will hopefully make people notice that as a society we have a problem with alcohol. I don’t think any drugs require encouragement or advertising and it’s sad that people don’t realize that alcohol can be addictive.
The author has a few good points: that it can be a nightmare to have to explain to people why you don’t drink as if you told them you replaced food with the energy of the
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Catherine Gray became a regular drinker at a relatively young age (her first taste of booze was aged 12), after realising it gave her more self confidence. As an adult, she continued to drink while managing to hold down a series of successful jobs, writing for magazines like Cosmopolitan. Unfortunately, with that kind of job, comes more booze and more access to it - and Catherine realised after a few rock bottom moments that she was an alcoholic.

This is her story to sobriety - it's not remotely
Alyson Edenborough
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying I love this book. However I did struggle with some of the writing style and sentence structure, having to reread several passages only to still not get it, which was probably just me. I gave up alcohol, with the aid of another book on the subject 7 weeks ago, and have decided to regularly read other people’s journeys as encouragement. After reading Catherine Gray’s experience, and the first book I read, I’ve come to realise that maybe my relationship with alcohol wasn’t as ...more
Terry Pearce
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Catherine Gray uses honesty to arresting effect in this really engaging book. She tells her story with no holds barred, and I can't think of a better book to inspire anyone who thinks that their drinking might be a problem. But she goes beyond just horror stories to look at alcohol's role in our society and make you sit up and take notice even if you don't think you're a problem drinker. She also spends a lot of time on the positives and alternatives, making a strong case for the idea that we've ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5. I did enjoy reading this book overall and some of the scientific facts were quite enlightening I have to say. I am not sure what was missing though to give it a full 4 or 5 star review. I did not agree with the author on a couple of points so that might be one reason. I will probably still pick up the other book I had on my tbr forever which is The Unexpected Joy of Being Single, as it was the one I wanted to read from this author in the first place. Overall I had a good time reading this b ...more
Lucy Moon
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shawna P.
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Normally towards the end of the year, all goals go out the window. This is the type of book one would read at the start of the year. I never thought about being sober. It didn't cross my mind because I didn't think I had a problem. Until one evening not too long ago left me wanting to stop. It was a scary time, but I knew this was time. I actually had Catherine's book in my queue for a long time and didn't feel the urge to pick it up. Then within the first few minutes of listening to it on Audib ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health
Really loved this book about sobriety. The author experienced alcoholism herself and writes about her experiences with drinking and becoming sober. It's a great, honest book that gives a realistic perspective on drinking problems. There's many tips and helpful references for when you're trying to be sober yourself! ...more
Geordie Peacock
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
My Kindle mysteriously recommended this book to me, and it seemed an appropriate way to kick of January, after another booze-sodden Christmas.
Its an interesting read, that confirms some of my feelings about the UK's deeply unhealthy relationship with alcohol - and perhaps mine, too.
Dan Sumption
I was sent this book for review, and put off reading it for quite a while because I really hadn't expected to enjoy it. I was wrong. It's wonderfully light-hearted, and not at all preachy (well, maybe a tiny bit, towards the end).

The first part of the book tells Catherine Gray's own story - of her gradual slip into alcoholism, from teenage drinking through parties at the various women's magazines she worked on to habituating night-clubs (solely because that's where you can drink late) to hiding
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book during my dry January spell and I found it gave me serious food for thought. Catherine's experiences through her drinking were very open and honest. There were some funny stories however some very serious ones which was very brave of her to put in to a book for all to read.
It changed my views on alcohol and my own drinking habits. I do not class myself as a heavy drinker but could definitely see how easy it is to slip in to bad habits and rely on drink to help ease the stresses
Alice Miller
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’ll be honest I bought this on my kindle after a few too many g and ts on my birthday because I felt ropey and wanted to cut down on my drinking! However, I found this book surprisingly fascinating and thought provoking. It was really interesting hearing first hand what an alcohol addiction is like. Whilst going through the peak of her addiction, the author had an enviable career writing for one of the UK’s best selling women’s magazines and a supportive network of friends and family. Far from ...more
Elaine Flanary
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written and painfully candid book detailing a successful woman's decline into alcoholism. Uplifting in its positive approach to life afterwards and the rewards of being sober. With drinking being so highly romanticised and peddled as if it were the fun giving elixir it shows the serious side to alcohol dependency. Catherine writes a "warts and all" personal experience of her steady decline. The loss of friends and career along it's destructive path and her subsequent recovery. It particul ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I applaud the author for her honesty - hearing about what really happened when she was drinking made the point about being sober much more, well, sobering. I am not a heavy drinker myself, but I found it an interesting and useful insight into what others may be going through.

The reason I have given it a slightly lower rating is it gets very detailed about recovery plans in the latter parts, and that just isn’t relevant for me, so I found it a bit harder to get through.

Overall an enj
Jamie Klingler
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m using Lockdown to examine my habits and decided to stop drinking from Easter onwards, at least until the end of the #stayathome measures. This book was recommended to me and the lack of judgey tone and Catherine’s personable relatable history really hit home. I love how the book gives resources and options without being preachy and makes a sober existence seem a possible and even attractive future.
Laura Jayne Tricker
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the first book on my sober journey and I really needed it. It opened my eyes to the real world of drinking that was causing me to struggle and helped me find solace that I’m not the only one going through this. The casual tone and tips and links are really helpful. My only issues are her obvious privilege, it sometimes felt very out of reach and a little out of touch? and the fact that she’s a white woman continually using the word tribe was frustrating. But all in all a really good star ...more
Jo Weston
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Perfect timing to finish this in a quiet NYE before once again committing to Dry January (and beyond). Honest helpful life affirming advice and reminder that one doesn’t need to drink much or at all to make the most of life. Just what I need as I turn the corner into a brighter year in 2020. May it run smooth.
Brodie Fenner
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I think this book is more relevant to people that drink frequently to the point that it’s taking over rather than someone that doesn’t drink a huge amount. My mistake!
Sarah Noonan
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved everything about this book! It was written well, raw, real and heartbreaking in some parts. A beautifully told story of just how alcohol can tear your world apart
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I’ve always been curious about alcohol. I was never a big drinker as a young adult maybe because I was busy with school and trying to figure out how to live on my own. I always thought of drinking wine as being sophisticated and I wanted to be a certified wine snob as soon as I could. Now that I’m approaching the second half of my life I’m finding that alcohol is everywhere. Book clubs, happy hours, tailgating, dinner parties... It never ends. I love a glass of wine but it is seldom one glass an ...more
Jacqueline Allene
This book is alright. She made some good points and I’m glad she put in scientific, marketing, societal and health information. It really helps her readers get a grasp on how alcohol affects us in multiple fields of just living life.

My problem with the book is the timeline is a bit confusing. There is part where I couldn’t remember if certain years were pre sober or after sober time. She spends way too much time in this comparing every aspect of her life. Maybe it’s something I don’t really not
FIONA Norris
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Alcoholism does seem to be having a moment right now: Amy Liptrot's very well received 'The Outrun' and very recently Leslie Jamison's 'The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath' cover similar ground as Gray's memoir. And as far as the memoir bit went, I liked it - Gray was brutally honest about the degradation that her addiction dragged in its horrifying wake: the blackouts, the waking up in the beds of strangers; the vomiting in public and the alienation of her friends over a period of tw ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As with Amy Liptrot's equally moving 'The Outrun' Catherine Gray's book outlining a journey to long term sobriety also had me in tears in places.

Ours is a society predicated on the consumption of alcohol with the assumption that it helps to lubricate social events and puts us at our ease. Those attitudes are slowly being challenged and changed though.

One aspect that struck a particular chord with me was how giving up alcohol in a seemingly weird way helped with the author's writing and running
Fiona Green
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did not realise that my level of drinking was classed as a problem. I thought that I was normal and that is the way it goes.
I’m a free thinker, well educated woman in my early forties. I’d gotten sick of feeling rough after only 3 glasses of wine 5 nights a week..
This book has changed my life entirely.
Wonderfully candid, it resonated so deeply with my own last 20 years of life.
What a remarkable woman to have hit rock bottom and risen to this status. So many of her stories were exactly like m
Marbeth Lynch
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best sobriety books I've read

Catherine Gray has the pitch and tone of this book just's part memoir, part manual and she has done her research with regards to stats, facts and annotations, delivered with flair, humor, emotion and warmth. I highly recommend it. She won't tell you how to get sober, she quite rightly states that no one can. We are each individual with different circumstances, levels of dependency and motivations. She gives an account of how she managed to get ov
Eve Dangerfield
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
“There are, of course, things that I can’t do now I’m sober. Bummer. Those things are: snog people I don’t fancy, spend time with people I don’t like, do the Macarena in front of 90 people, dance to music I hate and laugh at jokes I don’t find funny. Hmmm. Not such a great loss, is it?”

I really enjoyed this book, I found it charming, uplifting and entertaining and I love Catherine Gray's writing style. In some places this reminded me of the Hip Sobriety blog, in other places it reminded me of H
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