Book Review: the unexpected joy of being sober by Catherine Gray

This blog has personal input and you are invited to provide any comments at the end of the blog.


I got this book as a recommendation in a book discussion in Goodreads… I ordered online and was truly anticipating its arrival. When it came, I felt a bit of a panic… I have been sober for a while now, on my own, and after years of choosing sobriety, this was my first book on the topic of sobriety… so I was anxious… however I quickly realized I did not need to be anxious at all… just disappointed I did not read this way earlier.

The book is witty, funny, honest, informative, educational, heart-warming, and at times heart-wrenching… I read The book is witty, funny, honest, informative, educational, heart-warming, and at times heart-wrenching… I read this book slowly and taking my time.  Some parts I was able to read faster than others, and other chapters I read them twice… yes, as in with a highlighter and a journal next to me twice…

As always, below is my honest review of the book.

My Personal Opinion:

The first aspect of the book that called my attention is how personal its voice is.  It was brutally honest but full of compassion at the same time. Having the personal experience of what happens when alcohol takes over, I was deeply connected to her story, from her denial, to her acceptance, and taking the hard-strong decision to stop drinking and embracing sobriety along the way.

The book goes back and forth at times, making comparisons of how it “was when drinking” and how “it is now sober”.  It gives hope, it gives comfort, it gives self-compassion, at times allows us to forgive our decisions as we, along with the author, learn to make better decisions and move forward towards sobriety.

The story is her story, so we can relate at times, and at times we cannot. However, the author does point out several times, that the story is about her’ process of getting sober and she hopes that her experiences can connect with yours or a loved one of yours (in my case at times I had a strong understanding, and at times I did not… but it was her story, and from my point of view, I was happy she was just been honest about her journey.  There were many parts in this book in which I saw the courage of her storytelling. It takes guts to put it out all like that… but as a person pursuing sobriety, the book gave me the lesson than if I am not honest… well I am still in denial.  The honesty of the book has its mission, and I embraced it and I am thankful for it.

I do recommend this book for those people who are entertaining the idea of sobriety, and for those who have made the decision to be sober, whether you have done the 12 steps or you are trying on your own for the first or 20th time, read the book, it will help you.  The book has a lot of scientific data to back up the many why’s of how we feel, think, and act while we drink, and then when we stop.  It gives us clarity to understand our behavior and decision-making abilities while we are seeking the companionship of the alcohol and the radical change of our lives when we decide to step away from it.

Favorite quotes:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change’.”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

“I didn’t have a drinking problem as such. I was great at drinking! It was the stopping. I had a stopping problem.”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine GrayThe Witch Elm by Tana French

“Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked.”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

On playing games in relationships “You’re not a performing seal. If you need to perform tricks to keep his/her attention, you never really had it to begin with. Imagine how exhausting that would be long term. You’re starting an intimate, supportive relationship, not joining the circus”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

“What I was really thinking was: Don’t even for a minute think I’m vanilla because the truth is I am so hardcore I had to quit. I drank so much it was a matter of life and death. I’m like a rock star compared with you… you should look at me with a touch of fear and awe because I am such a badass you would quiver just to think about the amount of rot gut I’ve ingested over the years. So step off with your preconceived notions, okay?”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is the honesty with which it is written. You can see the soul-baring right in front of you and you want to hug it while telling yourself you can do it too.

Additionally, as a self-help book is full of science-based data, with countless studies outcomes clearly mentioned and many doctors from Neuroscientist to Psychiatrists giving us detailed information about the why and hows of alcohol abuse and reinforcing the fact that walking away from it its the best choice we have when it cannot be moderated.

The book is also full of inspiring quotes from Frida Kahlo to Maya Angelou, the inspiration is found all over the book and it gives you strength and courage.   It touches on the sensitive subject of alcohol and Hollywood and how being sober is “like going against” what is view as fun and classy.  The author does provide us connection with other sober people, from Podcasts to Actors, the point is that we are not alone and singled out. 

 Finally, the book is entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud and constantly nodding, I can clearly imagine the scenes, the bars, the restaurants, the friends, the wild parties and the painful aftermath.

The Negatives:

It is based on the author, Catherine Gray, journey to sobriety, so it is an autobiography which is also a self-book. If self-improvement books are not your type, this is not for you, also if you have no problem with alcohol or you are very comfortable with your consumption of alcohol this book is not for you.  The main purpose of the book is to give you the courage to take up on your journey to sobriety (and make it your own), so if alcohol is not the problem, I would not really recommend the book.

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Aster
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2018
  • Category: Self-help
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? I am always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.

Below is the link to the book in Amazon. It is an affiliate so I do get a small comission. Thanks.

Below are my favorites thing right now when I am reading… They are listed from my Amazon affiliate program.

26 responses to “Book Review: the unexpected joy of being sober by Catherine Gray”

  1. I do not know if i could relate to this story because I have never been in this situation. I have a few mental health issues so I could relate on that level.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Right now, I just started reading a fluffy romance novel on my kindle. I’m not very far into it. Yours sounds good though! I love reading memoirs from people who have battled with mental health.


  3. It sounds like you really enjoyed this book! I’m glad that it is one that you enjoyed, especially since you were a little anxious about it.


  4. I only drink alcohol on rare occasions so I don’t consider myself to have a drinking problem, but this book still sounds like it would be interesting to read. If nothing else, it would be a good reminder of the potential negative effects of alcohol, which would deter me from drinking too much in the future! It sounds like a powerful book.


  5. My husband is a bookworm and he is always on the lookout for new books to read. Will tell him about this.


    • I hope you like it! Let me know if you have any recommendations for me… I am in the lookout for a new book


  6. This book sounds like a wonderful read. Adding it to my Summer reading list. Thanks for sharing the review with us!


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