Newcomers, How do you read your Big Book?

Newcomers, How do you read your Big Book? from Big Book Sponsorship

WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all. (Forward to the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous)

The Big Book gives us one suggestion to encourage the newcomer to learn the AA way of life, on page 94 it says,

“If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book.”

Since the Big Book’s publication in 1939 there has been several approaches developed to help the newcomer understand the AA way of life. Here are just a few of the ways a newcomer can experience their Big Book.

Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars

Joe and Charlie – Specific, Precise, Clear Cut Directions – A Guide to The Big Book and Recovery( They did a line by line study of the first 103 pages. They made the unclear clear. They did it with humor, with purpose, and with brevity. Some are intimidated by this. Even the Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars have been subjected to the comments that they violate the Traditions and that they speak of non-Conference approved literature. But the Seminars have stood the test of time, with A.A.’s own archivist from New York often participating. (

Joe McQ. & Charlie P. met in 1973 ,soon they were planning meetings in hotel rooms at AA conventions in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and within a few years, the meetings grew in popularity. In 1977, some members met in a Tulsa, OK hotel room for a discussion of the Big Book. One asked Joe & Charlie to come to his home group to present a program on the book. An AA taper made a four tape set of their presentation and called it “The Big Book Study”. The tapes were gradually circulated throughout the fellowship and invitations were received for Joe & Charlie to present the study at AA conventions, roundups and special events. By 1980, there had been about eight studies offered.

Studies have been given in 48 states and most Canadian provinces. Additionally, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands have all hosted the Big Book Study seminars with Joe & Charlie.

All this growth has not come without a measure of turbulence. What spiritual journey does not encounter obstacles? Some fellow AAs have termed the duo, “self-appointed gurus”. Others have accused them of making money on these weekends. Actually, only travel expenses, meals and lodging are paid for by the independent AA host committee sponsoring the study. This is in accordance with the AA Guidelines for Conferences and Conventions (MG4), published by the General Service Office. Since 1977, an estimated 200,000 AA Members have experienced the spiritual benefits of these collective studies.

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