13 Seriously Addictive Books About Party Girls

While tales of late nights, sordid encounters, copious amounts of booze and illicit drugs have long been thought of as a boys’ club, there are plenty of female writers proving the lives of party girls make just as compelling a read. From brand-new novels and headline-grabbing memoirs, to classic books that changed the literary landscape, here are SL’s picks to get hooked on this summer…

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, 2017

More woman-about-town than party girl, this critically-acclaimed novel centres on Andrea, a single, childless-by-choice 39-year-old woman who’s determined to live life on her own terms. All Grown Up questions what it means to be a 21st century woman: “What if I don't want to hold your baby?”; “Can I date you without ever hearing about your divorce?”; “At what point does drinking a lot become a drinking problem?”. And Andrea’s boozy, urban existence, hilarious sex life and gut-wrenchingly honest musings have led to comparisons with hit BBC show Fleabag (albeit this time set in Brooklyn).

How To Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell, 2017

New York’s ‘enfant terrible’, Cat Marnell’s salacious memoir made global headlines, and prompted comparisons to Bret Easton Ellis and Charles Bukowski. On the surface, Marnell had it all – she was a 26-year-old Condé Nast beauty editor, living a glamorous New York life and, in her own words, “had access to some really fantastic self-tanner”. But she was full of secrets – a “drug addict” and “alcoholic-in-training”, not to mental a “manipulative doctor shopper” and “salami-and-provolone-puking bulimic”. It wasn’t long before everything began to unravel…

Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget by Sarah Hepola, 2015

A raw, vivid and ultimately uplifting memoir of addiction and recovery from Salon’s Personal Essays Editor. For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was “the gasoline of all adventure” – spending her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call, drinking felt like freedom. But there was a price – she often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where the final four hours should be. Mornings became detective work on her own life. Publicly she covered her shame with self-deprecating jokes, but as the blackouts accumulated, she could no longer avoid a sinking truth.

Lush: A True Story Soaked In Gin by Gabrielle Fernie, Coming August 2018

Described by Caitlin Moran as “filthy, immoral and incredibly funny”, Gabrielle Fernie's blog, loveisa4letterturd.com, catalogued her life as a struggling actress with a taste for gin. Here, in her first book, she shares more of her most raucous stories with eye-watering honesty – a laugh-out-loud account of a young woman trying to get her disastrous life together before her best friend’s wedding, to prove to everyone she can actually be a grown-up.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, 2016

A worldwide bestseller, this wry coming-of-age story is part-memoir, part-fiction – and is now a major TV series, released in the US this May. Tess is the 22-year-old narrator of Stephanie Danler’s first novel; moving to New York from her quiet town, she lands a job at a renowned Union Square restaurant and begins to navigate the chaotic and punishing life of a waiter, on and off duty. As her appetites awaken – not just for food and wine, but heavy drinking and heavier drugs – Tess becomes helplessly drawn into a dark, alluring love triangle.

The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon, 2014

Bryony Gordon’s Telegraph column was a diary of her daily screw-ups; she lived in a series of squalid, dingy shoe-box flats and her most meaningful relationship of the entire decade was with a Marlboro Light. In her first memoir, she shares the horrible and hilarious truth about being a young, (perpetually) single girl in London – including the truth about picking up a colleague at the STI clinic; sinking into debt to fund a varied diet of wine, crisps, vodka and cocaine; and how it feels when your dream man turns out to be a one-night stand who hands you someone else's pants in the morning.

Valley Of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, 1966

Over 50 years old, this groundbreaking book still remains a pop culture touchstone and is often cited as the bestselling novel of all time – never before had a female writer been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. Red or black, capsules or tablets, washed down with vodka or swallowed straight: for Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn't matter, as long as the ‘dolls’ - AKA, the pill bottle - are within easy reach. These young, beautiful women become best friends in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry, but only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there's nowhere left to go but down.

Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz, 1977

American artist and author Eve Babitz was a Los Angeles legend in the 1960s and 70s, seducing seemingly everyone in the city. Slow Days, Fast Company skirts the line between fiction and memoir, and is a fully-fledged and full-bodied evocation of a bygone Southern California – movie stars distraught over their success, socialites on three-day drug binges holed up in the Chateau Marmont, soap-opera actors worried that tomorrow's script will kill them off and Italian femme fatales even more fatal than Babitz herself.


Social Creature by Tara Burton, 2018

Released today, this deliciously dark novel has been dubbed a “Ripley story for the Instagram” age’. It follows Louise, struggling to survive in New York. Juggling a series of poorly paid jobs and renting a shabby flat, she dreams of being a writer. Then one day she meets Lavinia, who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment… Soon, Louise gets sucked into her charmed circle, sharing her clothes, her drugs, her Uber account and her invites to underground parties – but it won’t last forever. So just how far is she prepared to go to have Lavinia’s life?

I’ll Eat When Im Dead by Barbara Bourland, 2017

This murder mystery novel follows Cat Ono, feminist powerhouse and high-flying editor at RAGE magazine, who knows the price of fashion. Her friend – found dead in her office - just paid it. Everyone thinks Hillary dieted to death, but Cat suspects if beauty kills, it'd take more than that. When Cat goes undercover in an attempt to solve the case, she gets in over her head. Soon she's snared in a very stylish web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturiser that will change her look – and outlook – forever.

Clean by Juno Dawson, 2018

Heralded as “the most addictive novel you’ll read all summer”, the latest book from award-winning author Juno Dawson (released this April) is a razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a read. When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom - she’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility (think Gossip Girl meets Girl Interrupted). From there, she faces her demons and meets the mysterious Bradley, all the while weaving in addictive flashbacks to her lavish former life.

Girls Walks Out Of A Bar: A Memoir by Lisa F Smith, 2016

Lisa Smith was a bright, young lawyer at a prestigious law firm in NYC in the early 90s, but beneath the façade of success lay the reality of addiction. Girl Walks Out of a Bar is her darkly comic and wrenchingly honest story, a candid portrait of a decade of alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, and her road to recovery, all shown through the lens of gritty New York realism. Smith openly shares the lies, secrecy, depression, and isolation that define a life only made “liveable” by alcohol, and unveils the pressures of her high-pressured job (20% of lawyers have substance abuse problems).


Party Girl by Anna David, 2007

The clue’s in the name with this novel. Celebrity journalist Amelia Stone is the quintessential Hollywood party girl: she stays out late, rubs shoulders (and occasionally more) with celebrities, and ingests copious amounts of cocaine. But after losing her job, her friends, and much of her mind, Amelia makes the drastic decision to end her drug abuse. Once sober, she's hired by a big-name magazine to write a column detailing her wild adventures and starts seeing the man who could be her Mr. Right. There's just one problem: her editors – who don't know she's got clean – want her to play the part of the ultimate party girl.

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