I know love at first sight is talked about, but can ‘book at first sight’ be a thing? Earlier this summer, I was in The Works in Leicester, and quite literally picked a book off the shelf and bought it. The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley. Usually one to ponder over books, study blurbs, flick through the first pages and stress over if it’s worth the money (I’m a library person myself), this was indeed a rare occasion. What, therefore, led to me doing such a thing?
In retrospect, the full title ‘The Sober Diaries How One Woman Stopped Drinking and Started Living’ was a major factor. This spoke to me because I get anxious that people will think I’m boring for not drinking. Will people be offended if I turn down a night out? It’s not that I don’t enjoy socialising. I just don’t want to be in a place fuelled by alcohol. If anyone knows of any alcohol-free bars/clubs let me know and I’ll be on that dancefloor!
I’m sober without ever ‘properly’ drinking alcohol. The odd glass here and there, but I’ve never been drunk, or even tipsy for that matter. Clare Pooley’s story was therefore eye opening.
What is The Sober Diaries about?
The Sober Diaries documents Clare’s first year of going sober, with all the ups and downs of overcoming an alcohol addiction and more. To quote the blurb:
This book is the bravely honest story of a year in Clare’s life. A year that started with her quitting booze and then being given the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer. By the end of the year she is booze-free and cancer-free, she no longer has a wine belly, is two stone lighter and with a life that is so much richer, healthier and more rewarding than ever before. She has a happier family and a more positive outlook. Sober Diaries is an upbeat, funny and positive look at how to live life to the full.
This description perfectly sums up my feelings on The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley.
Clare first documented her sober quest on her blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker. Her blog is a gold mine of all things related to going sober and debunking the misconceptions surrounding alcohol. What’s more, it’s where The Sober Diaries was born. If you haven’t come across Clare’s blog yet, then do take the time to give it a visit. You can also find links to buy the book and view her TED Talk, an excellent use of your time in my opinion.
Reading the Book
Much like Notes on a Nervous Planet, The Sober Diaries is a ‘reader-friendly’ book. There are 324 pages and the sections are small, as Clare takes you through the days of the year. Whether you have 2 minutes or 2 hours of reading time available, you know you’re not going to have to stop reading in the middle of a paragraph, which I find satisfying.
If you are on a sober journey, then it’s a great book for heading back to, in case you need some motivation to keep going.
Clare Pooley, The Queen of Quotes
One of the many great things about The Sober Diaries is Clare’s affinity with words. Through a combination of personal experience and well-researched facts, there are several quotes that really hit the nail on the head when it comes to alcohol, attitudes towards it, and the joy of being sober. Here is just a small selection to give you an idea.
Alcohol is the only drug in the world where, when you stop taking it, you are presumed to have a problem, a disease, whilst those still indulging are viewed as ‘normal’. Why is it that we have to have a reason not to drink? Whilst admittedly I became increasingly wary about drinking after my Hydrocephalus diagnosis, I have come to realise that I am quite simply not fussed about alcohol.
According to breastcancer.org…women who drink just three alcoholic drinks a week have a fifteen per cent higher risk of breast cancer than teetotallers. People accept that smoking causes health problems, yet when it comes to alcohol, as Clare so rightly points out, it’s individuals that are considered to be the problem, that they are the cause of their addiction/any alcohol-linked health problems, not alcohol itself. Not true whatsoever.
P.278 (in relation to New Year’s)
And the best bit? Waking up today knowing that, for the first day in recent memory, I can really enjoy the first day of the new year. All sparkling new and filled with possibility. Starting as I mean to go on, not filled to the brim with toxins and regret. I love this! On New Year’s Eve, I’m the one with a mug of tea and everyone else has prosecco. I’m a morning person, so waking up on the first day of the new year and feeling good is important.
Things I Have Learnt
I can guarantee that you will learn a lot from reading The Sober Diaries. I certainly have. From alcohol and mental health, to life in general, Clare’s words will have an impact.
1) Sober does not mean boring
2) Being sober isn’t something to be ashamed of.
3) You’d congratulate someone for quitting smoking, the same treatment is needed for alcohol. Don’t think it’s weird that someone doesn’t drink, don’t judge anyone, and don’t encourage “Ooh just one drink” behaviour.
4) The likes of Bridget Jones and Sex and the City make alcohol seem ‘trendy’. Whilst I love a good romcom like Bridget Jones, do be wary of the messages being conveyed.
5) Finally, the last thing I’ve realised is that Clare has great taste in television and we’d no doubt get along. Clare, I share your love of Poldark.
Time to wrap up now. Have you read The Sober Diaries? I’d love to hear your thoughts.