First off, let me just say that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to my blog and I’m so sorry about that for those of you who are following. Life got so crazy for a while there but I’m back into a regular schedule now and my goal is to post a review for every book I read this year. So, without further ado, let us begin with my first review of 2018: Recovery: Freedom from our addictions by Russell Brand.
Based on the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, Brand brings this otherwise inaccessible, and rather stereotypical, model for overcoming our addictions into a fresh and relatable light. One of the things I found most interesting about this book was how Russell “branded” (you see what I did there?) it to make it more accessible to anyone who has an addiction to anything; from chocolate, to social media, gambling, sex, alcohol or drugs, you can see from the cover that this book is probably for you.
I’m not usually a fan of the quote-unquote “self-help books” and tend to find them rather misleading in the sense that they might help you in the short term but your problems either come back, or they just spout common sense at you over and over again page after page. I have to say that this book took a refreshing departure from that tradition and I actually found myself quite enjoying what Brand had to say.
Some of his key insights were things that I had either never thought of before, or were phrased in such a way as to make me revel in them all over again. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly if you’ve read any of Russell’s other books) Brand is quite a proficient writer and wordsmith. In fact, I actually had to look up over 40 new words while reading this book which, for a bibliophile like me, was absolutely amazing. Here’s a short excerpt that I hope will demonstrate the succinct yet poetic prose that pulls you ever so gently through the book:
What I used to think of as happiness was merely distraction from the pain. The pain of disconnection, of separateness from you. All longing, all yearning, all thirst, flung on unworthy surrogates, false idols, unsated by unworthy objects still pulling us unwillingly back together.
One of the main themes throughout the book is how addictive behaviour is used to mask some sort of pain that one is going through and can’t seem to face alone.
Now to get on to the reason why I in particular picked up this book as my first read of 2018 is not only because of my admiration of Russell Brand as a comedian and a human being, but because I too have struggled with an addiction and self-destructive behaviour throughout my life. Physically it manifested as an addiction to sugar, but psychologically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally there were some deeper issues there that I’ve had to learn how to overcome, and can say with some certainty that this book has definitely helped me make a positive change in my life.
One of the only issues I had with the book was that there were some steps in the 12 step program that seemed to be a bit too much for someone with a “less complex” addiction to say sugar or shopping like myself. For example, having to make an extensive inventory of all of the harm I’ve done other people and then apologize to them seems a bit silly for a sugar addiction and I was left wondering if Russell’s belief was that all twelve steps should be done no matter what addiction you display.
Either way this is a book that I feel everyone could benefit from reading because whether you think you have an addiction that has negatively impacted your life or not, there are some real solid ideas and practices you can pick up from this book if you simply want to change the way you experience the world.
The point of undertaking this program, of picking up this book, is to change the way it feels to be in your own head because on some level you don’t like it in there. It is making you unhappy. You think thoughts and feel feelings that are unpleasant to experience. – Brand, pg. 192
Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought? And as always, happy reading friends 🙂