Out this week are three new memoirs—about breaking up with alcohol, defecting from right-wing conservatism, and living with a traumatic brain injury—that hold nothing back.

Drunk-ish: Loving and Leaving Alcohol

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. Gallery, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-6680-1941-2
A mother drags herself kicking and screaming into sobriety in this raucous memoir from humorist Wilder-Taylor (Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay). Recapping her fraught relationships with booze and other addictive substances, from the candy she binged and purged as a teenager to the Xanax she scarfed to subdue postpartum anxiety, Wilder-Taylor writes that her reasons for drinking were manifold: to get over shyness, to soothe her stage fright before stand-up gigs, because drinking a little felt good enough to drink a lot. Waking up hungover one morning after driving home drunk from a friend’s house with her toddlers in tow, she decided to quit alcohol and join Alcoholics Anonymous, which felt like “the world’s dullest book club, because instead of reading the latest Oprah Winfrey discovery, the only book up for discussion was a boring one about people in the 1930s who couldn’t quit drinking.” Wilder-Taylor paints a vivid, self-skewering portrait of alcoholic delusion and dysfunction, from dubious rationalizations (“All of those studies say red wine has antioxidants in it that prevent heart disease. I mean, are you trying to have a heart attack?”) to mortifying physical indignities (an explosive bout of drunk vomiting is described as “a July Fourth fireworks finale”). The results are funny, neurotic, and woozily uplifting. (Jan.)

The MAGA Diaries: My Surreal Adventures Inside the Right-Wing (and How I Got Out)

Tina Nguyen. One Signal, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-1-9821-8969-3
A journalist revisits her youthful dalliance with and later disaffection from the conservative movement in this entertaining and insightful debut. Puck correspondent Nguyen recounts her infatuation with conventional conservatism—she loved constitutional history and revered the founding fathers—at California’s Claremont McKenna College, where she hooked into a web of internships and mentors including John Elliott at George Mason University’s Institute for Humane Studies, who helped her land a stint at the Daily Caller. (She paints its founding editor Tucker Carlson as a nice man fond of antics like fly-casting in the newsroom.) But she came to realize that many conservative publications were disguised PR outfits bankrolled by right-wing foundations that pressured her and others to slant their reporting. Drifting away from conservatism after 2013, she started writing about politics at Vanity Fair, often reporting on right-wing figures; her distance from the movement increased after news broke that Elliott belonged to a secret circle of journalists who tried to infuse white-nationalist themes into mainstream conservative media. Nguyen cannily depicts conservatives as models of organizational strength, patiently growing their numbers through mentoring and career-building programs. Meanwhile, progressives she encounters are hampered in their efforts to foster new talent by donors who seek “instant gratification.” The result is a spirited take on America’s political operative class. (Jan.)

Sex with a Brain Injury: On Concussion and Recovery

Annie Liontas. Scribner, , $18 ISBN 978-1-66801-554-4
Novelist Liontas (Let Me Explain You) details in this excellent memoir-in-essays the physical and emotional effects of living with head trauma. After getting her first concussion at age 35 in a biking accident, Liontas suffered two more within a year. She experienced debilitating migraines and disorientation, often forgetting where she was and fearing that even the slightest contact could reinjure her. Throughout, Liontas blends personal narrative with reportage and historical research to illuminate the shocking prevalence of brain injuries and the institutional mechanisms that cast doubt on those affected by them. In the essay “doubt, my love,” she reckons with the skepticism her chronic illness elicits from others and details how insurance companies and courts have long equated the symptoms of brain trauma with hysteria. The pervasiveness of brain injuries among prisoners is the focus of “professor x and the trauma justice league,” in which Liontas notes that nearly all repeat female offenders have a history of head trauma. The collection not only does the tremendous service of raising awareness about the millions of “wounded walking”; it’s also a profound meditation on love, as Liontas recounts her and her wife’s struggles to remain together in the aftermath of her injury. These unflinching and eye-opening essays wow at every turn. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Jan.)