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Fifty Ways to Love Your Liver: A Hard Drinker's Reflections on Moderation

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Loved it! 😍

A warm and entertaining book about moderating excess by cultivating awareness, understanding, and kindness to self.

We each have our own relationship with bad habits, and perhaps that relationship can change over time. We might embrace our worst habits, in a spirit of total self-acceptance, or we might try quitting or denying them, in a spirit of total self-discipline. The type of relationship endorsed by Rick Gehrke, in his Fifty Ways to Love Your Liver, one which he himself has been cultivating over many years, is rooted in kindness, forgiveness, understanding, and a self-acceptance that is combined with the desire to improve. Reading his book, which is enriched by insights from his personal story, we realize that the path toward moderation is inseparable from the path toward self-understanding and self-awareness.


What we often think about as "bad habits" should first be disentangled from the pain that rests at their core. Gehrke does this quite carefully at the beginning. Before going into his fifty short chapters--each of which represents one way to love our livers by drinking moderately--he introduces himself and talks about the impetus for his writing of the book. Beginning with his personal and family history gives the entire book an intimate tone. Even though the chapters are, at times, more formulaic, the personal anecdotes keep returning and they preserve the unique tone of the book. We feel like we are in the presence of a friend, who is truly interested in sharing the highlights of his experience and the wisdom he has acquired on "the road of excess" (How could we not remember that famous aphorism by William Blake, while reading this book?).


Gehrke's book is quite successful at achieving its aim. With his lean, honest, and upbeat prose, which reflects his practical approach to life, he has written a book that instructs and entertains. Even though Gehrke touches on the topic of depression on several occasion, his writing voice remains cheerful throughout the book. Every chapter begins with a playful and often funny epigraph, and every chapter tackles anew the question of moderation. We join Gehrke in celebrating the human power of self-control (at least when it can succeed!), while also paying attention to the crucial role of others, our friends and loved ones, in helping us. The book offers a list of recommended readings and links to community-based resources, which could be helpful for many readers. Setting aside the practical advice, what makes Fifty ways to Love your Liver engaging, entertaining, and heartwarming is Gehrke's intimate and modest tone. It's that quality of a friendly presence that might, in the end, be as effective as any practical technique.

Reviewed by

I completed my PhD in Psychology at University of Toronto (2015) and I am currently assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Macau. My reading life is mostly devoted to social sciences and philosophy. I also have a YouTube channel, where I regularly post book reviews.

Why This Book?

About the author

Rick Gehrke is a technical writer, musician, and songwriter. A veteran and multi-lingual world traveler, Rick is a student in the school of hard knocks and wild times. Self-critical yet unapologetic, he shows readers his own dark side and theirs, along with blaze marks on a path into the light. view profile

Published on October 09, 2020

Published by Walnut Street Publishing

30000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Self-Help & Self-Improvement

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