Small Publisher of the Year 2011, 2010, 2008, 2006 

‘A sobering, and distinctly inspiring, glimpse of what Australia might look like without a hangover … Stark writes with honesty and unnerving clarity. Over its pages, the reader gradually comes to understand not just that Aussies don’t like to give up the drink, but that we don’t like it when our mates do, either.’

Annabel Crabb

‘I’m the binge-drinking health reporter. During the week, I write about Australia’s booze-soaked culture. At the weekends, I write myself off.’

Booze had dominated Jill Stark’s social life ever since she had her first sip of beer, at 13. She thought nothing could curb her love of big nights. And then came the hangover that changed everything. In the shadow of her 35th year, Jill made a decision: she would give up alcohol. But what would it mean to stop drinking in a world awash with booze?

This lively memoir charts Jill’s tumultuous year on the wagon, as she copes with the stress of the newsroom sober, tackles the dating scene on soda water, learns to watch the footy minus beer, and deals with censure from friends and colleagues, who tell her that a year without booze is ‘a year with no mates’.

In re-examining her habits, Jill also explores Australia’s love affair with alcohol, meeting alcopop-swigging teens who drink to fit in, beer-swilling blokes in a sporting culture backed by booze, and marketing bigwigs blamed for turning binge drinking into a way of life. And she tracks the history of this national obsession: from the idea that Australia’s new colonies were drowning in drink to the Anzac ethos that a beer builds mateship, and from the six o’clock swill that encouraged bingeing to the tangled weave of advertising, social pressure, and tradition that confronts drinkers today.

Will Jill make it through the year without booze? And if she does, will she go back to her old habits, or has she called last drinks? This is a funny, moving, and insightful exploration of why we drink, how we got here, and what happens when we turn off the tap.


‘I was completely engaged … Her approach is fresh and funny, artlessly open, and most importantly, accessible. She’s not interested in preaching to the masses but rather is on a mission to decipher her own complicated feelings … It is this candidness that makes her book so enjoyable.’ BOOK OF THE WEEK


‘A brave and lively memoir … Stark writes powerfully, and with absorbing and intricate detail, about her alcohol-free odyssey … [she is] a feisty, richly talented writer.’

Ross Fitzgerald , Canberra Times

‘It’s hard not to recommend this book: from teenagers experimenting with their first taste to those who’ve been imbibing for decades, many will find Stark’s story illuminating, touching, and memorable.’

The Australian
» All reviews for this title

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