About a month ago, we had a pot luck barbecue at our house. During the course of that day, a friend of mine said something to the effect about the “thirteen books of required reading” in AA. I was intrigued but did not have a chance to discuss it further with him until recently. About a week ago, I asked him about the “list” he alluded to and where I could get my hands on it. I must admit, I was a little embarrassed by his answer. You see, I have professed to many new members of AA to “start reading the big book from the front cover and read it to page 164”. As it turns out, the basis of the list I was looking for is found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous by flipping over the first two pages inside the front cover! Of course, the first book on the list would be the Big Book itself. The list inside my copy of the Fourth Edition is then as follows:
Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age
As Bill Sees It
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers
Pass It On
Experience, Strength and Hope,
Came to Believe…
A.A. In Prison: Inmate to Inmate
My friend also suggested two more books not on this list as they are not AA approved literature. They are:
A New Pair of Glasses by Chuck “C” and
Stage II Relationships – Love Beyond Addiction by Ernie Larsen
Finally, when I went to the local AA Central Office to buy the last couple of books that I did not already own, it was suggested to me that I should add one more book:
The Language of the Heart – Bill W’s Grapevine Writings
Therefore, my final list ends up being 14 books. I have read a number of them already, but I am going to start over; starting with the stories in the back of the Big Book. We read the beginning of the Big Book in my home group and I participate in a weekly Big Book Study that also covers to page 164. It has been a while since I have read all the stories in the back of the Big Book, so that is where I am going to start. I am then going to read the remainder of the books on the above list, probably more or less in order listed, with the exception of the Daily Reflections. I used to read it everyday and have added that back into my daily routine. My goal is to finish the list of books before I finish the Daily Reflections, which gives me a year.
I have a few different motivations for undertaking these readings. First of all, it can do nothing by help my spiritual growth. I am constantly amazed by the history of AA, and the absolute miracle of how it came to be. If you are struggling with God, understanding how AA came to be is a pure miracle. To me, there is no way that you can contribute everything that had to happen for AA to come into existence as a “coincidence”.
Finally, as a member of AA, part of my responsibility is to be in a position to carry the message to the newcomer. The more I know and understand, the more suited I am to carry that message. Therefore, I am going to commit to reading a bit everyday until I am finished. I will most likely share some updates along the way about what I have read and learned.