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Straight Pepper Diet: A Memoir

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Joseph W. Naus was living the American Dream. He'd survived a brutal childhood, graduated from Pepperdine Law School, and become a successful attorney. Then one night, his American Dream-life became a nightmare when his sex and alcohol addictions collided and exploded. "On Tuesday, I was a respected civil trial lawyer making six-figures. On Wednesday, I woke up handcuffed Joseph W. Naus was living the American Dream. He'd survived a brutal childhood, graduated from Pepperdine Law School, and become a successful attorney. Then one night, his American Dream-life became a nightmare when his sex and alcohol addictions collided and exploded. "On Tuesday, I was a respected civil trial lawyer making six-figures. On Wednesday, I woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed charged with attempted murder...and then it got worse." Straight Pepper Diet is a book about surviving one's own wreckage. It's harrowing, sometimes hilarious, and surprisingly hope-filled.


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Joseph W. Naus was living the American Dream. He'd survived a brutal childhood, graduated from Pepperdine Law School, and become a successful attorney. Then one night, his American Dream-life became a nightmare when his sex and alcohol addictions collided and exploded. "On Tuesday, I was a respected civil trial lawyer making six-figures. On Wednesday, I woke up handcuffed Joseph W. Naus was living the American Dream. He'd survived a brutal childhood, graduated from Pepperdine Law School, and become a successful attorney. Then one night, his American Dream-life became a nightmare when his sex and alcohol addictions collided and exploded. "On Tuesday, I was a respected civil trial lawyer making six-figures. On Wednesday, I woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed charged with attempted murder...and then it got worse." Straight Pepper Diet is a book about surviving one's own wreckage. It's harrowing, sometimes hilarious, and surprisingly hope-filled.

30 review for Straight Pepper Diet: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Carano

    One of the better memoirs I've ever read. I have had a few demons in my life and I can say with all honesty That Joseph Naus has been there.He describes his trials and tribulations with touches of sadness as well as humor. I recommend this book to all the poor souls who have had to endure having an addictive personality.You will be able to identify with Mr. Naus.It,s that well written. One of the better memoirs I've ever read. I have had a few demons in my life and I can say with all honesty That Joseph Naus has been there.He describes his trials and tribulations with touches of sadness as well as humor. I recommend this book to all the poor souls who have had to endure having an addictive personality.You will be able to identify with Mr. Naus.It,s that well written.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samie Sands

    This book is unbelievably good. Sure, it's harrowing but it's also exciting and positive. It'll certainly give you pause for thought - you won't regret reading it! This book is unbelievably good. Sure, it's harrowing but it's also exciting and positive. It'll certainly give you pause for thought - you won't regret reading it!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    This book gets 5 stars for honesty, 4 stars for narrative flow and 2 stars for editing of the Kindle version. I now have a much better understanding of what it's like to have a sexual addiction. Although I find the idea of buying women's sexual services distasteful, I appreciated Joseph's unwavering account. He never seemed to take the easy way out although he must realize that this book has the potential to color others' opinions of him. It seemed as though he was going to rise way above his to This book gets 5 stars for honesty, 4 stars for narrative flow and 2 stars for editing of the Kindle version. I now have a much better understanding of what it's like to have a sexual addiction. Although I find the idea of buying women's sexual services distasteful, I appreciated Joseph's unwavering account. He never seemed to take the easy way out although he must realize that this book has the potential to color others' opinions of him. It seemed as though he was going to rise way above his tough childhood but one alcohol fueled, sex-driven night ruined his career as a top-notch lawyer. I was totally intrigued by the trial and the beginning of his prison time. Just as the many trips to the massage parlor started to bore me so did the later prison encounters. I prefer when an author picks a few representative scenes and takes the time to embroider them with details. I've often wondered how AA recovery goes for God-doubters and Vinny was able to answer that for me. " Spirituality has nothing to do with spirits or God, it has to do with acting consistent with basic principles that all religions and cultures recognize: kindness, fairness, love, respect, diligence." I wanted to know more about Joseph's life today. I'm assuming he's still sober and helping others but how does he support himself? Is there no way to ever practice law again? I needed to know more about his post-prison life to be assured that his life will stay on a positive trajectory. After all I spent over 400 pages getting to know him. Here are a few of the editing problems: "tires to catch someone's eye" "breath in the ocean air" "They used make us do..... "Please turn of all cell phones...... "put us in front of the bus cause were PC....

  4. 4 out of 5

    Terry Pearson

    This book is undeniably a wonderful read. It is engrossing, comical, witty, and sad rolled into one large book. I was promised a book that would be a page turner and it lived up to that plus some. It kept me engrossed from the beginning to the end and never took a turn that I couldn't follow. I was disappointed when the book ended because I wanted more! Mr. Naus' atypical childhood undoubtedly had a huge impact on his personality and it is easy to feel pity / love / sympathy for little Joseph. As This book is undeniably a wonderful read. It is engrossing, comical, witty, and sad rolled into one large book. I was promised a book that would be a page turner and it lived up to that plus some. It kept me engrossed from the beginning to the end and never took a turn that I couldn't follow. I was disappointed when the book ended because I wanted more! Mr. Naus' atypical childhood undoubtedly had a huge impact on his personality and it is easy to feel pity / love / sympathy for little Joseph. As for the grown man, I can't help but think what he gained from his experience is worth more then what was lost. Accolades, Mr. Naus. Very well written. I hope to see more of your work in the near future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susie Spizzirro

    Straight Pepper Diet: A Memoir by Joseph W. Naus Wow! A wild ride from beginning till the last page. The story is told with such clarity that you feel you are seeing each scene as they happen. Some of the scenes were a little to clear for me but that was his life. I believe the final court room scene is so vivid I almost wept with him. I highly recommend this book to all my friends and anyone looking for a very realistic read. The telling makes you feel like you are there as a witness.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Saso

    Surprising redemption and survival story!!! Really intense and heavy but I was surprised at the number of times I laughed out loud while reading it. A really good read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andy Swart

    Everything you always wanted to know about illegal Asian massage parlors...but were afraid to ask.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Kennedy newby

    Worth the time. A little hard to read during the worst of it because he's just so desperate and such a mess. Stay with it the payoff is good. Worth the time. A little hard to read during the worst of it because he's just so desperate and such a mess. Stay with it the payoff is good.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen Prive

    The synopsis of Straight Pepper Diet was intriguing - a lawyer gets into some trouble because of his alcoholism and sex addiction, but finds recovery and some peace of mind. The book is basically set up in 3 sections - the active addiction, the process of finding recovery, and the consequences of his poor behavior. The first section was way too long and drawn out. I suspect Naus was trying to firmly establish for the reader the severity of his addiction. However, this was communicated rather qui The synopsis of Straight Pepper Diet was intriguing - a lawyer gets into some trouble because of his alcoholism and sex addiction, but finds recovery and some peace of mind. The book is basically set up in 3 sections - the active addiction, the process of finding recovery, and the consequences of his poor behavior. The first section was way too long and drawn out. I suspect Naus was trying to firmly establish for the reader the severity of his addiction. However, this was communicated rather quickly, and I found myself grudgingly listening to him do the same things over and over again, with all the accompanying shame associated with his behavior. It seemed like a list of every shameful act he'd committed. It was a relief to finally hit the recovery section, and he captured the nature of very early recovery very well. However, it was the third section, about the experience of paying the price for his earlier behavior, that was the most fascinating part of this book. I'm glad I stuck it out and got there - this is where Naus really found his writing voice and brought the entire experience to life. I almost gave up halfway through the first section.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I was immediately drawn in to this story from page one. I could relate to Joseph in so many ways! I have a background in the legal field and have struggled with some of the same things. Joseph is an attorney and an addict. There are plenty of trials and tribulations for him to go through and overcome. The book is VERY authentic. I found myself laughing at some of his thoughts throughout the book while he dealt with his addiction, the meetings, etc. It's all so very real and definitely a page tur I was immediately drawn in to this story from page one. I could relate to Joseph in so many ways! I have a background in the legal field and have struggled with some of the same things. Joseph is an attorney and an addict. There are plenty of trials and tribulations for him to go through and overcome. The book is VERY authentic. I found myself laughing at some of his thoughts throughout the book while he dealt with his addiction, the meetings, etc. It's all so very real and definitely a page turner. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone struggling with an addiction, has overcome an addiction, loves someone who struggles with this beast or anyone who truly enjoys a good story or is curious about how a life can spiral out of control so fast. This is really one of the best memoirs I've read in awhile. It was SO EASY to give this book 5 STARS!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I received this book for free via the goodreads giveaway. 'Straight Pepper Diet' is a memoir about Joseph's sex and alcohol addiction (although mainly sex). I found this memoir to be full of detail and therefore extremely honest and open. Incredibility well written and I especially enjoyed the little sections, separated from the main text about his visits to prostitutes and massage parlors. Again nothing left to the imagination here. The memoir is structured well and flowed very nicely. A harrow I received this book for free via the goodreads giveaway. 'Straight Pepper Diet' is a memoir about Joseph's sex and alcohol addiction (although mainly sex). I found this memoir to be full of detail and therefore extremely honest and open. Incredibility well written and I especially enjoyed the little sections, separated from the main text about his visits to prostitutes and massage parlors. Again nothing left to the imagination here. The memoir is structured well and flowed very nicely. A harrowing read but at least there is hope at the end too. By the end you are completely with Joseph, and almost feeling the feelings with him! Very much recommended. Especially if you have any addictions yourselves as the memoir is very relate-able. I enjoyed this very much.

  12. 5 out of 5

    richwire

    Not everyone should write a memoir. This is a perfect example. It's just not an interesting story. Some bad behavior, but nothing bizarre or off the charts that some reviewers would lead you to believe. There are no twists or turns, just a pedantic retelling of his time as a drunk massage parlor customer and 4 hours of ramblings of every insignificant moment in prison presented in poorly performed ghetto-speak. Some reviewers think parts of the stories are made up - I don't. If anything was made Not everyone should write a memoir. This is a perfect example. It's just not an interesting story. Some bad behavior, but nothing bizarre or off the charts that some reviewers would lead you to believe. There are no twists or turns, just a pedantic retelling of his time as a drunk massage parlor customer and 4 hours of ramblings of every insignificant moment in prison presented in poorly performed ghetto-speak. Some reviewers think parts of the stories are made up - I don't. If anything was made up, the author seriously lacks imagination. This is an example of a time I trusted the great reviews and got burned, so if I can save anyone a few bucks it was worth writing this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Really, really good. More like a 4.5. "...Joseph knew, the way his lungs knew to breathe, that it was critical that he not cause any noise, not draw attention to himself, and most importantly, not cause a hassle. There is nothing important enough--not food, shelter, safety, or health--worthy of causing a hassle or drawing attention to oneself. This motto was engraved on the family crest that was far too much of a hassle to create..." Really, really good. More like a 4.5. "...Joseph knew, the way his lungs knew to breathe, that it was critical that he not cause any noise, not draw attention to himself, and most importantly, not cause a hassle. There is nothing important enough--not food, shelter, safety, or health--worthy of causing a hassle or drawing attention to oneself. This motto was engraved on the family crest that was far too much of a hassle to create..."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Wow. What a story. I couldn't put it down, and I'm not generally a huge fan of memoirs. Well-written and honest almost to a fault, I got a little tired of the repetitive detailed descriptions of what he liked at the brothels, it's a grueling tale of the consequences of alcohol addiction and one man's challenges in moving through them. This was a goodreads giveaway. Wow. What a story. I couldn't put it down, and I'm not generally a huge fan of memoirs. Well-written and honest almost to a fault, I got a little tired of the repetitive detailed descriptions of what he liked at the brothels, it's a grueling tale of the consequences of alcohol addiction and one man's challenges in moving through them. This was a goodreads giveaway.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kme_17

    I received as a first read. This was a really good book. The author writes about trials and problems in way that most people could relate to. It is very well written. Definitely a good read. Would recommended to everyone.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Booth

    Amazing book!! I couldn't put it down! WOW! Joseph Naus's story of prostitution, alcohol, and craziness was so entertaining!! But yet heartbreaking taht he lost everything he worked so hard for and went to prison just because of being in an alcoholic stupor one night!! Amazing book!! I couldn't put it down! WOW! Joseph Naus's story of prostitution, alcohol, and craziness was so entertaining!! But yet heartbreaking taht he lost everything he worked so hard for and went to prison just because of being in an alcoholic stupor one night!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karan Page

    A great book , had me crying laughing and scared to death. Would recommend this book to anybody.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Decker

    It was a good book, despite the story line dealing with very difficult situations. I liked the writing style and humor.

  19. 4 out of 5

    JOSH LANGHAM

    I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    EllaFaye

    First of all, I have to say that Joseph Naus may have ruined my future relationship with Goodreads...haha. I was looking for more of his books and this site popped into my google search results. My job prevents me from social media but I decided to check out this site anyway! Well, I signed up, browsed suggestions, and started following him...soon after, his activity was in my newsfeed! It felt like he was just a 'regular' person instead of an out of reach author. His activity seemed as though a First of all, I have to say that Joseph Naus may have ruined my future relationship with Goodreads...haha. I was looking for more of his books and this site popped into my google search results. My job prevents me from social media but I decided to check out this site anyway! Well, I signed up, browsed suggestions, and started following him...soon after, his activity was in my newsfeed! It felt like he was just a 'regular' person instead of an out of reach author. His activity seemed as though all of my favorite authors would be at my fingertips!! Alas! He is the exception and not the rule. That's okay because Goodreads has become my new favorite site! Let's talk about the book... You might be reading this because it was free, or listening because the authors voice drew you in, picked it because it's part of your book club, or bought it simply because you liked the title and cover...and who knows? Maybe this book will help you stay sober, or maybe it will help you realize your life isn't that bad, or maybe you'll remember to be a little more empathetic in your day to day. It doesn't matter how it found its way to you, or why you chose to read it...it matters that these struggles are real and he reminds us that there's hope even in (especially in), the darkest times. This author is spreading awareness by humanizing the disease and breaking the "addict stereotype". (If you or anyone else has an addiction, seek the help you need. Ha, that sounds like an ad...but seriously, get help.) If you're not into any of those reasons then how about this: You will definitely be entertained and you will definitely take a little piece of it with you. You'll smile, laugh, and cringe along the way! If you're listening to it, you're in for a treat! He is a great narrator and keeps you engaged minute by minute! Moving on! You can stop reading or you can continue on to my rant (spoilers): I was extremely disappointed but hardly surprised with the district attorney and case agents who conducted his diagnostic. I imagine a bitter, envious, and judgmental case manager suffering from burnout whose only sense of self worth comes from her position of power (she will likely stay in that position until she retires because she's comfortable)...what a shame! Her job is to conduct clinical interviews and present her findings to the court...she has done a disservice to the public service profession, the justice system, and to the people as a whole by making snap judgments, failing to listen, and only writing a cookie cutter summary based solely on the charges. Can you imagine how many other people she has done this to? I guarantee at least 50% of her reports are the same kind of copy/paste generic jobs. I was told by a mentor that if I became cynical and if my goals no longer included rehabilitation...then it would be time for me to find a new job...she should realize it's time to move on. I've been in public service for more than 10 years and I've found that I'm more disgusted by coworkers, law enforcement, the judiciary, and the corrupt district attorneys rather than the offenders I supervise. The DA in the book could be a clone of the ones in my town! They are not supposed to only go for 'the win'...they are supposed to be seekers of the truth...there have been several DA's who have asked *cough, threatened, cough* me to change my recommendations or have buried my reports so the defense would be none the wiser. I bet this DA has done the same! I always believed in the system, until I started working in it. There really is more honor among thieves than employees in the system. The good (honest, reliable, ethical) apples in the city, state, and federal government agencies hardly make up for the bad ones they work with. If the good apples don't speak out against the immoral, are they really that good? (Myself included) Overall, I'm happy Joseph's trials led him toward the spiritual path and has kept him on it...but, I'm still pissed how he got so screwed in court. The Judge should have and could have amended the terms knowing full well that the SO jacket was BS. I'll try to find my own spiritual path so I can end up like Joseph rather than the bitter government employee in the book! Until then, I'm looking forward to writing a "tell all" and I'm going to need a lawyers touch so I don't get sued ;)! P.S. I've read and listened to thousands of books but this is the first time I've ever felt the need to write a review. I was that impressed! Sorry if this is too long and too boring, but I just had to post!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    Straight Pepper Diet is a fascinating and sobering memoir. A formerly successful California trial attorney by day and drunken sex addict by night, Naus narrates effectively (I recommend the Audible version) with a slightly nasally twinge. He captivates the reader with truly outrageous personal anecdotes followed by learned insights and keen observations on violence, addiction, and human nature. Raised by a single mother who struggled with drug addiction, Naus unwittingly follows in her footsteps Straight Pepper Diet is a fascinating and sobering memoir. A formerly successful California trial attorney by day and drunken sex addict by night, Naus narrates effectively (I recommend the Audible version) with a slightly nasally twinge. He captivates the reader with truly outrageous personal anecdotes followed by learned insights and keen observations on violence, addiction, and human nature. Raised by a single mother who struggled with drug addiction, Naus unwittingly follows in her footsteps (and his grandmother's who was also an alcoholic), and finds himself plagued as a young adult with a penchant for booze, cigarettes, and prostitutes. For a time, he keeps his vices from interfering with his virtuous legal career. Until one night when he commits a serious crime in a state of debauched mania. He goes to prison, loses his law license, sobers up, and prays to God, miraculously surviving and growing from his insane, self-destructive experiences to become a better man. Naus is witty, misanthropic, angry, intelligent, sympathetic, and afraid throughout his story without ever being annoying or melodramatic. You can hear it in the way he writes and speaks, delivering a refreshing level of raw honesty that readers will appreciate.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    First I actually won this book on a goodreads giveaway back in December of 2015. I went through some tough times and it got packed away. I recently found it and was able to read it. I loved it. It's a very honest story of what one mans life has been like and the very tough times he went through. Parts of it were very eye opening to me as well and it has actually helped me through some of the tough times I have dealt with. For Mr. Naus to have gone through what he did and to be able to open up an First I actually won this book on a goodreads giveaway back in December of 2015. I went through some tough times and it got packed away. I recently found it and was able to read it. I loved it. It's a very honest story of what one mans life has been like and the very tough times he went through. Parts of it were very eye opening to me as well and it has actually helped me through some of the tough times I have dealt with. For Mr. Naus to have gone through what he did and to be able to open up and share it was amazing. I don't know that I would have been able to put myself out there the way he did. It isn't something for the faint of heart but I would recommend it to anyone.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was a 4 star read for me until about 2/3 of the way into the book. It was a smooth read, and for anyone that has battled with addiction of any kind, the powerless feeling creates an instant connection with Joseph. You root for him from the beginning, and even at times while he is self-destructing. Spoiler below: Once Joseph enters prison this book takes a turn that reminds me of Orange is the New Black. He seems to have little to no trouble inside of "one of the worst prisons". Although This book was a 4 star read for me until about 2/3 of the way into the book. It was a smooth read, and for anyone that has battled with addiction of any kind, the powerless feeling creates an instant connection with Joseph. You root for him from the beginning, and even at times while he is self-destructing. Spoiler below: Once Joseph enters prison this book takes a turn that reminds me of Orange is the New Black. He seems to have little to no trouble inside of "one of the worst prisons". Although this may be the case in reality, it is seems a bit predicable based on other books I have read with similar story lines.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Just OK I was disappointed in this book. I really thought I was going to read his a poor kid with an alcohol drug addicted mother made it through law school....but no. He skips most of his childhood & most of his schooling. He is way overture too in details of his sexual appetite. I really didn't want to read about all of that. About half the book is about his trial and prison time. It is hard for me to believe this guy was such a hot shot lawyer, it's not even that well written! Just OK I was disappointed in this book. I really thought I was going to read his a poor kid with an alcohol drug addicted mother made it through law school....but no. He skips most of his childhood & most of his schooling. He is way overture too in details of his sexual appetite. I really didn't want to read about all of that. About half the book is about his trial and prison time. It is hard for me to believe this guy was such a hot shot lawyer, it's not even that well written!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen McDermott

    I struggle to stay engaged with a book when I dislike the main character and Joseph was, for me, terribly unlikable. I appreciated what felt like unflinching honest of his descent into the rock bottom of addiction and it's consequences but his cavalier attitude towards women, problematic generalizations of different races and arrogant attitude were unnerving. Despite being happy to have arrived at the end of this book, I did have a lot of respect for his achievements, both in recovery and it's r I struggle to stay engaged with a book when I dislike the main character and Joseph was, for me, terribly unlikable. I appreciated what felt like unflinching honest of his descent into the rock bottom of addiction and it's consequences but his cavalier attitude towards women, problematic generalizations of different races and arrogant attitude were unnerving. Despite being happy to have arrived at the end of this book, I did have a lot of respect for his achievements, both in recovery and it's retelling.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lorri Stanton

    Amazing ! What a read. It's amazing Joseph survived. It's interesting to know what's going on in an addicts mind and the "feelings" he gets when experiencing his highs and then such low lows. The strength he eventually gathers when there is nothing left of his life and he is at his ultimate bottom, is incredible due to AA, prayer, meditation and service to others he just does without really believing but eventually embraces. Way to go Joseph! Amazing ! What a read. It's amazing Joseph survived. It's interesting to know what's going on in an addicts mind and the "feelings" he gets when experiencing his highs and then such low lows. The strength he eventually gathers when there is nothing left of his life and he is at his ultimate bottom, is incredible due to AA, prayer, meditation and service to others he just does without really believing but eventually embraces. Way to go Joseph!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Jones

    Well written, not for the squeamish and at times humorous given the subject matter. A fine tale of trouble, trauma and recovery. It also gives insight to the practice of 12-step recovery and the legal aspects of facing criminal charges, albeit to a lighter extent. Also an informative view into the workings and emotional side of sex addiction.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Ragsdale

    The first 100 pages or so is uncomfortable reading, very graphic descriptions of his sex addictions and then the book evolves and the result is a very vivid description of all that addiction and sobriety, is all about. Overall a marvelous book and you find yourself really hoping the author makes it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kate Gray

    This is a hard review. It’s a memoir about such personal and intimate things, so I almost feel bad, but... Here are my issues: racism and terrible editing. The author gives us very explicit imagery, but his descriptions of people are filled with racist slurs. Whoever edited the book should be fired.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Meyer

    Well done. Detailed enough to keep things interesting and moving, but didn’t ramble on. Great story on “the decision to turn our will and care over to God, as we understood him”. A great story of the courage to change the things we can. Thank you for the share. Without each other’s stories, we all become stronger snd realize how we are not alone.

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