Some time ago, I wrote a post called “Reading List” in which I made a commitment to read a bunch of AA literature over the course of the next year. I made a good start and was reading some every day. Then life got in the way, I got out of the habit and the next thing you know, a month had gone by with hardly a word being read! I have recently been getting back on track and reading regularly again. I can tell you, the more AA literature I read, the more I want to read. The AA literature is amazing to me. Whether I am reading something I have read a number of times or I am reading something for the first time, I’m always amazed at what I learn.
I just finished reading the Big Book again. Not the first 164 pages, but the rest of the book. I continuously read from the Preface to page 164 in my home group as well as a Big Book Study I am involved in, so I started with the stories in the back, as well as all the appendices.
I first read the stories in the back of the Big Book very early in my sobriety. I read the entire Big Book from cover to cover starting soon after I went to my first meeting. The first time I read the stories I almost never identified with a single one of them. Nobody told me to pay attention to how the person in the story drank, how it started and how it progressed, nor did they tell me to pay attention to how the writer felt before they drank, how drinking made them feel in the beginning, and how they felt as their drinking careers progressed. Therefore, I never really identified with anyone. You see, I was trying to identify with their life circumstances, rather than their feelings, emotions and drinking history.
I read through all the stories a second time when I had be sober a couple of years, and that time I found that I identified with virtually every story in the book. You see, by then, I was able to recognize the start of the drinking, the progression, and where it led the author of each story. I was also able to identify somewhat with what happened and the spiritual remedy to their problem.
However, this time, reading through the stories, I found them more informative than ever before! I constantly found myself saying: “Oh, that is where that comes from! I have heard that in meetings but never knew the source.” Also, there are certain passages and pages that people often recommend to somebody that is struggling with something, but reading the entire story rather than just that certain page seems to better put things in context for me. It was good to be reminded of that again.
Finally, in the appendices, there is an abundance of wonderful information. I read Appendix 2, Spiritual Experience, regularly, but, not the rest of them. I found the long form of The Traditions to be extremely interesting and helpful. To be honest, I think I had only read them once before. In my home group we have a traditions meeting once a month where we read the tradition from the 12 X 12 and then discuss it, but I think the long form in the Big Book is extremely insightful. Finally, I thought the Medical and Religious Views were very interesting.
Next on my list to read is the 12 X 12. As we have had our first winter blizzard today, we have been without power now (which at our house means we don’t even have so much as a phone that works as we don’t get cell service) for almost 8 hours. I got a good start on it today. I was able to read until it got dark!