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How do you read the big book?

Old 06-07-2017, 12:12 PM
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How do you read the big book?

hi all! first of I want to thank everyone for the support and help on this website. Its going to save my life. Second, i want to start doing the 12 steps and go to AA meetings but I'm not sure where to start. Do I just read the big book then start working on the steps? Or as I am reading do I wait until I get passed a step to continue the book. It might be a dumb question but I don't know where to begin. Thank You
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:15 PM
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I read the Big Book years ago, but I'm not an AA person. Others will be along to answer your question, but I would think you could just go ahead and read it.
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:20 PM
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I'm no longer in AA, but I know that it's recommended to get a sponsor to take you thru the steps. So going to meetings can help to find a sponsor.

As to reading it, just read it so you'll get some understanding of what the steps are all about.
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:23 PM
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thanks, yeah that's what I was thinking I was going to do. I watch my 3 and 9 month old all day then go to work at night so its a little tough to make it to meetings on my work days. That's why I joined SR. But ill get to reading tonight and see where it takes me.
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Old 06-07-2017, 01:38 PM
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I read the Big Book cover-to-cover at first. It really gave me a great overall perspective, insight and base of awareness as I went to AA in parallel.....

Then I spent a lot of time reading the personal accounts, many of them several times. I found tremendous value in these stories of narrative wisdom. I found a lot of parallels in them. I found myself open to hearing the lessons embedded there.

Then I read it cover to cover again. And then again.

I did step work in parallel and attended AA meetings at my own pace and time.

I still grab the Big Book now and again, flip it open and just see what comes forth. It's a great resource to have in your overall sobriety toolkit.

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Old 06-07-2017, 01:46 PM
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the first 164 pages describe the history, the steps and the program. (depending on which edition of the BB you have). next comes the personal stories, pages 165-559. followed by the appendices.

those first 164 pages have been studied and studied and read over and over again thousands of times. you will hear certain passages read at the beginning of any AA meeting. many have their own special quote or quotes. perhaps one of the most famous "pages" referenced is page 449 (3rd edition) - with a passage known as The Promises.

The first sentence of chapter 5 How It Works is infused with hope for all suffering alcoholics:

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our program.

Good Luck! Happy reading.

ps - a 3 and 9 month old???? i've heard of Irish Twins but wow!!
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Old 06-07-2017, 01:56 PM
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good on ya raider! i got the big book a couple days after my 1st meeting and started reading from the very 1st page. one thing that caught my attention, something i would have missed had i started at bill story is
The Story of
How Many Thousands of Men and Women
Have Recovered from Alcoholism
i just read. and read. and reread. and went to meetings,prayed like crazy, and didnt drink even if my ass fell off in between reading.
meetings and a sponsor helped understand what i was reading. if i didnt have a sponsor and meetings to learn, i would have gotten some messed up misconceptions of the program like many people do.
the first 164 pages are the program- the directions we follow to recover from alcoholism. after that are personal stories,which are good to read,too.
where to start....welp, the steps are numbered in order for a reason,so its probably wise to start at step 1, which the chapters "there is a solution" and "more about alcoholism" explain quite a bit what step 1 means and why.
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:29 PM
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download the Joe & Charlie Big Book app

a fantastic sometimes comical very specific and clear description of the steps/ book

i listen to it in the car all the time especially on long road trips
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:34 PM
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When I first read the big book I was drawn to the personal experiences most, and they are what I got most out of. I would just start reading and see what you relate to. I think you will find it very helpful.
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:56 PM
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I read the first 164 pages mostly on my own with very little input from others. I did this because I wanted to form my own conclusions about the content (like many written works, there are different interpretations of the Big Book's thesis and ideas).

Some people say the concepts and text of the BB can be a little difficult to understand; however, I disagree. While some of the vocabulary and syntax is a bit dated, any person of average intelligence and the ability to read and think at the 9th grad level should quickly grasp the main ideas and doctrine laid out in the BB. Whether one agrees with those concepts or not is an entirely different matter.

So my advice, is to dive in and start reading and thinking about what the BB is presenting, and come to your own initial conclusion about what's being offered and suggested. And if you have questions on some of the finer points, there are plenty of people here who can help, but I also suggest taking other people's interpretations of the BB with a grain of salt--that is don't reject the interpretations of others, but don't just accept them without question.
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:57 PM
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Similar to what Anvil said- my first sponsor took me trough those first 160 some pages. She had a lot of info to share on who the actual people in the personal accounts were, which I found interesting.

I also began the habit, while working with her, of reading pages 84-88 & 417-418(4th edition) every single day. The promises, asking myself the inventory questions (I do this in the am about the day prior), the St Francis prayer (that I have on a book mark) and those last two pages about "living in the solution"- I absolutely believe that alcoholism is a "peculiar gift" (a phrase I heard somewhere) and the best thing that has ever happened to me- now, I get to choose to live in the solution that is my life of recovery.

I also flip randomly through pgs (I do this with the Bible too) and see where I land; there's always something to learn/think about etc.

All of this is along with, on top of, etc going to meetings (I did about 82 in 90 at the start and now at 472 days find that 4-6 a week is my sweet spot) and study with my first and now second sponsor.

Glad you are here!
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Old 06-08-2017, 05:58 PM
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Just read it. It is a book. A sponsor is a good idea. It is not an exam. It is a guide- a reflective look at a way of getting on with life. You do not 'have' to do anything. Just read it- ask questions- write notes, underline stuff- raise issues you connect with, go to meetings, share here. Good on you .
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Old 06-08-2017, 06:13 PM
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First time I read it like a novel. My comment was that it was too American and they should write a New Zealand version. I missed the whole point. Much of the positive stuff made no sense to me. Talk of freedom and happiness was just words, not something I had any experience of.

The subsequent times I have read the book, I have looked at my experience and compared it with what I was reading. Initially, things like the doctors opinion and the first two chapters talked a lot about my experience. Then as I got into the steps and began to recover, I began to have a common experience with the other parts of the book. Today i find the book matches my experience quite closely.

In the wider fellowship there are lots of ideas and cliches that don't come from the book. Some are quite dangerous to alcoholics of my type. All the directions for taking the steps and recovering from alcoholism are contained in the big book and nowhere else. It is useful to have a sponsor walk you through it, and it is even more useful to have a good knowledge of the book so you can assess whether advice you are receiving is consistent with the program, or whether it came from somewhere else.
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Old 06-08-2017, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Raidern8tion View Post
hi all! first of I want to thank everyone for the support and help on this website. Its going to save my life. Second, i want to start doing the 12 steps and go to AA meetings but I'm not sure where to start. Do I just read the big book then start working on the steps? Or as I am reading do I wait until I get passed a step to continue the book. It might be a dumb question but I don't know where to begin. Thank You
Humble and honest, these traits will carry you on your journey. A simple program for complicated people........

Welcome
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Gottalife View Post
In the wider fellowship there are lots of ideas and cliches that don't come from the book. Some are quite dangerous to alcoholics of my type. All the directions for taking the steps and recovering from alcoholism are contained in the big book and nowhere else. It is useful to have a sponsor walk you through it, and it is even more useful to have a good knowledge of the book so you can assess whether advice you are receiving is consistent with the program, or whether it came from somewhere else.
This is a very important observation IMO Gottalife. Thank you for making it.
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:03 PM
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Just thought I would add that today I use it more like a text book. As with any text book there are certain parts which are essential to get to grips with the subject, and I need to know these. But I don't need to know every line on every page.
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