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Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  38 reviews
"Emotionally devastating and self-aware, this cautionary tale about substance abuse is a worthy heir to Cat Marnell's How to Murder Your Life ." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A startlingly frank memoir of one woman's struggles with alcoholism and recovery, with essential new insights into addiction and treatment

Erica C. Barn
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 7th 2020 by Viking
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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Jill Mackin
I saw myself.

October 16, 2020 will be 3 years of uninterrupted sobriety for me. It’s taken me 17 years of relapse after relapse to get here.

I’m grateful for Bill W. & Dr. Bob.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
It seems very appropriate that Sarah Hepola wrote such a glowing blurb about “Quitter.” I’ve read a lot of addiction memoirs and Sarah’s book “Blackout” was up until now the best one I’ve read. I don’t usually like to compare books, but “Quitter” is equally as good. The journey through active alcoholism, relapse, and recovery is a brutal, difficult, and demanding one, but one that can ultimately be redeeming. Erica Barnett provides a brilliant and intimate portrayal of her journey (particularly ...more
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you made the plot line of most recovery narratives generic you could exchange it with the plot line of a book about climbing Mt. Everest and not be able to tell the difference. Person finds huge obstacle in way, interesting and risky stories happen around huge obstacle, person surmounts huge obstacle, plants flag, gets chip, triumphs.

This plot line is more like a story of an amateur bowler - person charges towards goal again and again, sometimes winds up in gutter, sometimes hits a strike, g
Jane Miller
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When is enough enough? Despite the claim of many experts that AA is the one thing that works why does the author continue to drink. throughout this book? I read with angst for the author's life as she continued to drink despite innumerable times in rehab, the ER for detox, AA meetings and sessions with a, therapist.. I was stunned that she would continue to make the decision to drink while her world fell apart around her. I was hopeful at each of her attempts to become sober. I was amazed at the ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know how to review this haunting book. It was breathtaking in its grittiness and honesty. The author doesn't hide anything and I was shocked that she drank as much as she did and lived to tell the story. Actually, I'll even say I had no idea that women drank like this. I truly hope she manages to stay sober. You end up caring a lot about her by the end of the book. At least I did. ...more
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, lifestyle
Beautifully written, incredibly candid and brave, Barnett was no-holds-barred on the long road of her alcoholism and sobriety. In a wider scale, though, a discussion on addiction, and its partner obsession, and the difficulty of just being. Amazing on all fronts.
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book! I'm younger than the author, but I worked in the same alt-weekly world she describes, and it was extremely recognizable territory, captured well. From being the only girl at a table of guys guzzling beers to the way alt-weekly culture enables and obscures addiction through its hedonist, no-rules culture, Erica C. Barnett describes this particular corner of publishing with such accuracy and observation that I was left with a tangible shock of recognition (and I LOVED my ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I read a lot of memoirs on addiction and recovery, but very few have been so detailed on what it feels like to relapse. In most memoirs, it seems the addict gets recovery and never looks back. This book gives hope to addicts who "don't get it" the first time. It has been said that relapse is a part of recovery and through this book, you can see that recovery is possible, even if its your 10th detox.

I really appreciated how the author does not shy away from being as honest as she can be in this b
Ronit Plank
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t read too many memoirs about the pain of addiction but I’ve read many memoirs. Erica C. Barnett’s Quitter is raw and unapologetic, she has clearly made the decision to invite readers in to the disabling and dark world she lived in for years. I appreciate her honesty and bravery. This couldn’t have been easy to write and her struggle with relapse and nearly killing herself with alcohol are a challenge to read at times but Barnett is giving testimony and I am here for it. I learned about ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoy how Erica focuses on the positive aspect of the word "quitter" in her title - as in someone who quits a substance, not someone who quits something they should try harder on. I also appreciate her honesty about relapse, and how relapse needs to be more normalized so folks who do relapse don't fall into a shame cycle but rather seek help to get back on the bandwagon sooner. I also like how she points out that recovery can mean different things to different people - an example for her from ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are many books written by alcoholics who have quit drinking but this book is a different. The author writes with wit, but with complete candor about her relationship with alcohol. Readers will groan as she relapses again and again, but the author explains in full what her body is going through and why she needs a drink. There is hope.

*I read an advance copy and was not compensated
Linda Freedman
Oct 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fast and loose. Not particularly interesting as a human being. Did not care very much about her which is key to want to take the ride with her in recovery..
Linda, Reading Is My Talent
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great read for anyone interested in addiction and recovery, Seattle journalism/politics inside baseball, Gen X upbringings, feminism, workplace cultures, the power (and limitations) of friendship, or the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. As I am interested in all of these, this book was nearly perfect for me.

Others have commented on the way the author broke out of the tidy, formulaic arc used by many addiction-related memoirs. I appreciated that too. What I thought was even more spec
K2 -----
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A stunningly candid look at what an intelligent woman can go through to beat addiction. This book is so well-written and hard to put down.

I can't imagine the process to write such a brutally honest book of scary times that most would choose to put behind them. Barnett is a talented writer and this is one of the best books about women and alcoholism I have ever read. I am a fan of her journalism in Seattle and this story shows the pains addiction can bring to a promising life.

Mary Swan-Bell
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is unlike any other addiction memoir I’ve read, and I’ve read lots. Erica story is so compelling and hopeless at times that I had to keep reminding myself that she lived to write it.

If you’ve been an addict, loved an addict, or want to understand more about the gritty underbelly of alcoholism, this is a great read.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book hit hard. I have a dear friend whose struggle with alcoholism proved fatal. I’ve felt so much confusion and anguish, trying to process what she must have gone through. I could so clearly imagine my friend in Erica’s story. I’m grateful for the insights into addiction and the way Erica tells her difficult story with such vulnerability, rawness, and compassion.
Jennifer White
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you think you've known rock bottom, Barnett depicts an even lower low. It was sometimes hard to read about her frantic searches throughout her days for more alcohol and her numerous relapses. However she provides fresh insights into the life of an addict, ultimately showing readers that alcoholism is a disease for which there are not enough scientifically based treatments. ...more
Geri chesner
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
A close female family member still struggles with alcoholism and much of what Barnett describes mirrors her life. It's not as shocking to me what my family member has experienced after reading this book, but it doesn't make it any less sad. I got a better picture of what addiction in general can look like and how it devastates peoples lives. ...more
Nov 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I've read a few addiction memoirs, and I thought this was definitely more 'self-aware'. Although I didn't connect well with the author, I thought it was interesting how she analyzed addiction treatment (in the US) and provided statistics about how underfunded these places are with very little evidence-based protocols. ...more
James Buchanan
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a recovering alcoholic (15+ years) this book does an excellent job of describing what it feels like to be inside the disease.

Her experience was far more severe than my own, but this really connects. Good for anybody to read.
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A little slow going at times only because she includes the science and the data and treatment info but overall a good reminder that you can keep trying things to get sober until something clicks. And the only failure is not trying again.
Harrowing. But elevates the addiction memoir by using her journalistic eye on the rickety recovery industry and the narratives, helpful or not, that we maintain about addiction, relapse, and recovery.
Kevin Clark
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Literally couldn’t put it down. Read it straight through in one sitting. A deft balance of the awfulness of what she’d made of her life and interesting facts and data about addiction, woven throughout with humor and self reflection.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for anyone eager to understand the dynamic issues of addiction and mental health. This book reeks of humanity while speaking to subjects that so often rob people of nuance. Read this book !!
Robyn Martin
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Leanne Ellis
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Harrowing, brutal, and insightful!
Loryn Bunker
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I particularly got a great from the final chapter which discussed the reality of treatment option toay.
Kurt Reighley
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Compelling memoir elevated by the subject's journalistic instincts and skill. Highly recommended. ...more
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A powerful blend of memoir and exploration of the gaps and inconsistencies of treatment offerings within the US health system.
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