Despite the massive amount of shelf space given over to self help and fad diets in bookshops, it's not very often that reading a book can change your life. So it is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I write this post, because I have a very strong feeling that High Sobriety will turn out to be one such book. It actually made me look at my life and patterns of behaviour, and think about how and why I might change them for the better. To be more precise, it did more than make me think about change, it gave me the tools and the courage to enact change, and that is something that doesn't happen very often.
So what's it all about? Interspersed with vats of facts and figures about alcohol consumption, High Sobriety is the story of Jill Stark's year without drinking. Some of the information is confronting, and some is horrifying. If you are perfectly happy in the knowledge that you drink a bit too much and are utterly disinterested in changing that then I strongly recommend you DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.
As well as the health issues which - worryingly - are more real on a far lower level of alcohol consumption than I had previously imagined, the book looks at how and why our society normalises excessive drinking. It made me really think about how often I unthinkingly drink because it is the default position. Many of Stark's most difficult moments during the year are when people pressure her to drink because they are uncomfortable with her sober state.
Despite being rather horrified and freaked out at times while reading the book, I generally really enjoyed it. It is such a pleasure to read something well written AND interesting, and boy was it well written. I found myself swept along for the journey, wanting to know what happened next, happy to read for long stretched of time. It was a beautifully crafted book about a fascinating taboo and I cannot recommend it highly enough except to say I give it five lemon, lime and bitters out of five.