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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 31 January 2014
I was stunned by this book. I could have been reading about myself! Sober is the New Black gives a clear description of how wine infiltrates every aspect of our lives and quickly goes from being a pleasant treat, to a means of coping, and finally to dictating and destroying all that we value. By the time we notice this is happening it's too late to cut back or moderate; it has a strong grip and is not for letting go easily.
When she eventually manages to start to stop drinking, Rachel describes how much we `want, yet don't want', wine. She agonises over social situations and wonders how she will cope. Every day presents a new challenge and she details the ways she finds to navigate around these obstacles with great honesty.
I liked the point Rachel makes that it is a positive choice to remain free from alcohol. It is not a disease over which we are powerless. It is not a flaw in our character. It is an addictive substance with it's own agenda. Becoming free from alcohol is not about `giving up' and deprivation. It is about giving a different way of life a chance to show what it may hold in store for you, should you choose to follow it.
Rachel never imagined how much she would get, from giving up. She was surprised by the changes to her personality, her priorities and her pursuits that were revealed as she emerged from the clutches of wine, and decided she liked herself much better that way.

Sober is the New Black is for any woman who has wondered if she drinks too much.
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on 8 March 2014
I too felt as though I was reading about myself when I read this book - which incidentally I could not put down and read in one day. Rachel tells it like it is - good and bad, but she has managed to come through it. She talks about the realisation that having just one drink is not an option to someone who is addicted to alcohol. The same slippery slope ALWAYS follows. I would fully recommend this book to anyone who is trying to give up alcohol.
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on 17 November 2014
I read this book in one day. Then I read it again the next day. It could have been written about me. You read such extreme horror stories about alcohol in the media that the individual struggles of people like me are, largely, unreported. It's comforting and very helpful when someone goes on record to prove that I'm not alone.
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on 24 February 2016
Having been recently diagnosed with malignant melanoma, my consultant advised that I stopped drinking. I have always thought of myself as a social drinker. However, over the years my consumption had gradually increased to having half a bottle of white wine a day - more on weekends, social events and holidays, which meant that I was regularly having much more than I admitted.

My determination to stop was really strong. That did not stop it being difficult! Not drinking changed my experience of lots of different events that I had previously enjoyed; it also made me aware of how much of my life revolved around having a drink.

This book has been a friend to me during the process of not drinking. It helped me to anticipate times that would be difficult and prepare different tactics to get me through. I sometimes have avoided certain situations altogether because I just don't enjoy them without the presence of alcohol.
It sounds quite sad, but I think that this book is supportive because it spells out that I am not alone. Our society encourages the use of fairly heavy alcohol consumption - I have become really aware of the amount of tv programs that depict drinking as an integral part of normal life. This book reflects the less attractive side to this socially accepted norm.

I was never an alcoholic, and didn't even suffer with many hangovers, but my drinking was dominating my decisions and really dulling my experience of life. I can now see the control that alcohol had over me.

So reading this book has expanded my awareness that perhaps I did have a problem and has helped me along the journey of always being sober. It is funny and easy to read giving the important message that life really can be full of joy without a few glasses of chilled white wine!
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on 18 June 2014
I only give five star reviews to books which are life-changing. I also think that too many five star reviews on a book looks suspiciously like croneyism. But I did feel that this was a very good book, and should be read by anyone worried that alcohol might be taking centre stage in their lives.

This book shows very effectively how alcohol can insidiously, destructively and completely take over a life. Throughout it powerfully juxtaposes events in the author's life--business conferences, family holidays, book club meetings--when she was drinking, and after she stopped. There's always a risk with this sort of personal memoir that it can become egocentric and dull, but this one avoids that on two counts. First, because Rachel will resonate with so many readers as a typical working mother, someone they can relate to. Second, because it doesn't go too deeply into aspects of her life (we never learn the names of her children or her Other Half, or what job she does) and stays firmly focussed on the subject of alcohol.

I particularly liked the metaphor where the author compares lifelong abstinence with her mortgage. Both are burdens which look huge and terrifying when viewed as a whole, but are manageable and life-affirming on a day-to-day basis.

The book well written, interesting and not overlong, but for me its best feature is the overriding optimism and delight on every page. If it has one message, it's that the sober life is wonderful (I fully endorse that). Rachel was evidently taken by surprise to find how much better everything, from social events to Christmas, is when you're not focussing solely on wine and how to drink as much of it as possible without anyone noticing. That brightness and assurance shines throughout the book and lifts it above other "sobriety memoirs". In fact, I would say that it should be required reading for anyone starting their journey to an alcohol-free life, because it will reassure them that not only is it something they have to do, but the rewards are considerable, and almost immediate.
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on 18 June 2015
This book made such a difference to me. I could relate to so much of it, Rachel Black is a fantastic writer, she's able to put into words what I just couldn't explain to my husband, nor fully make sense of myself. My husband has benefited immensely from reading it too and has a much better understanding of what I'm going through. There are so many tips and suggestions on how to live sober AND enjoy your life. The 'then and now' scenarios are invaluable to look at the huge benefits of not drinking. I was stuck in a rut before reading this book, stuck between two lives, the one when I drank and this one where I don't drink, not belonging fully to either. Rachel has shared her hugely personal story here and it's made me feel like I'm not alone..and that I can do this, and my life will be much better. It already is. If you're worried about the way you are drinking then read this book. Thank you Rachel.
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on 8 March 2014
Wholeheartedly agree with previous reviews - strikes an all-too familiar chord! An honest and fascinating personal account and insight into giving up drinking alcohol. Would highly recommend to anyone wondering about their drinking habits, considering a period of abstinence and anxious about what life might look like on the other side.
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on 13 March 2014
Great honest account, quick easy read and very easy to relate to when you have been in this position. Recommended if you are ditching the booze to help you realise you are not on your own, and there is more to life than getting smashed. Loved Rachel's 'then & now' accounts..scarily accurate.
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on 22 October 2014
I related to the author's experience of over indulgence! It encouraged me to try and give up drinking as I am a all or nothing person. So far I am 3 weeks without alcohol and coping. I was drinking everyday like Rachel and I feel so much better. Thanks Rachel, I can dip into your book when I feel a wobble coming on.
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on 19 January 2015
Great read . Read as many as you need to read in your journey to staying sober . These authors are here to help you and I ..Good luck to YOU ..the reader of this review ! you're here reading this because you know you have a problem as do I , so go for it , we're all rooting for you XX
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