The Books and Materials Early AAs Read

The Books and Materials Early AAs Read by Dick B via Silkworth

GNN Note – In order to truly understand how the 12 Steps work, how they will change your life and what a new life is like without addiction, one must look at what was happening BEFORE the book Alcoholics Anonymous was written. The authors of Alcoholics Anonymous DID NOT use the 12 Steps to change their lives. They used a wide variety of materials with the Holy Bible being the center piece, Chief Cornerstone of all the early readings and guidance used by the first AA’s. Read this article in full to get an idea of the depth and breadth of the material. A lot of this material I have read. A lot of this material has nothing to do with the 12 Steps or Alcoholics Anonymous. A lot of this material has everything to do with prayer, meditation, Quiet Time, listening to God and following Jesus Christ. Enjoy the journey!! / END

Early AAs were readers. The Bible was the written word of God. The daily devotionals were written guides. Oxford Group people wrote. Sam Shoemaker wrote. Anne Smith wrote. And there were a great many books available for reading. Dr. Bob was an avid reader, and so was his colleague Henrietta Seiberling. Every pioneer A.A. meeting had tables set out in T. Henry’s house where literature was available. Dr. Bob recommended and circulated many books. He kept a journal which recorded the books loaned, and he quizzed the alcoholics on the Bible and on the written materials they had borrowed from him. Whatever their proclivity for reading, early AAs all attested to the presence of the Bible and The Upper Room. They mentioned The Runner’s Bible. They mentioned E. Stanley Jones books. They mentioned Henry Drummond’s The Greatest Thing in the World. They mentioned My Utmost for His Highest. They mentioned James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh. They mentioned the popular Glenn Clark books, Emmet Fox books, and Harry Emerson Fosdick books. There were religious books, and almost every one elaborated on some aspect of ideas AAs were borrowing from the Bible and the Oxford Group for their basic principles.

There was plenty of material on the Bible, prayer, healing, divine guidance, the Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James. There were Oxford Group/Shoemaker materials on finding God, changing lives, conversion, the guidance of God, fellowship, witness, and the teachings of Jesus. There has, perhaps, never been a fellowship with such diversity of subject matter at the immediate beck and call of its participants. Nor with such encouragement of its study by the “leadership.”

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Dr. Bob’s Library

Dr. Bob and everyone that knew him well in the early A.A. days spoke of the immense amount of reading he did. He read the Bible through three times and studied it daily. As he put it:

I read everything I could find, and talked to everyone who I thought knew anything about it (DR. BOB, p. 56).

[Of the Oxford Group books and the Bible] . . . I had done an immense amount of reading they had recommended. I had refreshed my memory of the Good Book, and I had had excellent training in that as a youngster (The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 11-12).

[To his son, “Smitty”] Well, I should know something, I’ve read for at least an hour every night of my adult life drunk or sober (RHS, pp. 37-38).

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