In the early years, the How It Works group read from a wide variety of A.A. approved literature. Topics for daily discussion were taken from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Daily Reflections, or As Bill Sees It. These had been approved for use at the initial group conscience meeting held in December, 1990. Later, the list was expanded to include the Twelve and Twelve, and, apparently, the non-AA, non-conference approved Twenty Four Hours a Day. An attempt on February 25, 1993, to expand the list even further to include the AA approved book “Language of the Heart” was voted down, 16 no’es to 0 yea’s. This decision reflected the fact that rather than serving as an invariable aide to recovery, even the approved readings occasionally tended to generate controversy.
One day a visiting member from Canada, asked: “If you are so proud of your supposed connection to the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the twelve steps as the solution to alcoholism, why don’t you just read from the Big Book?” That simple question proved revolutionary. It led the group to move away from non-AA approved literature and, ultimately to the How It Works’ Daily Readings book. On October 26, 1995, the group conscience approved using the “Big Big Book”. Initially the daily readings were contained in a very large 3-ring binder containing the specific readings from the pages of A.A. in plastic covers – hence the name the “Big Big Book.” Later the readings were published in the now familiar bound edition. The bound books are replenished on an as needed basis. They are purchased from a vendor in the same manner as other literature purchases approved by the group conscience.
The How It Works group really began to grow in membership after adoption of the Daily Reading Book. In many respects the adoption led to the unification of the How It Works groups and members all over the world. By having each group on the same page (and date!), those people who are traveling find a special bond.
Although there was no “conspiracy” to avoid picking topics for discussion from chapters of the Big Book such as “To the Wives” and “The Family Afterward,” the actual outcome of day-to-day selections, prior to the adoption of the Daily Readings, was as if it were so. Adoption of the Daily Reading Book allowed all of Alcoholics Anonymous to be read by all members. Further, the Daily Reading Book also placed special attention on the Step Three and Step Seven Prayers and the “Spiritual Experience” Appendix.
Minutes of the group conscience meeting held 10/31/1996 indicate that the evolution of the Big Big Book continued. It was decided at that time not to include the reading on Acceptance that appeared on page 449 of the Third Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous because it’s not in the first 164 pages. Later on, of course, the Daily Readings Book would be expanded to include the pages on “Spiritual Experience” added as an appendix in the back of Alcoholics Anonymous and to include Dr. Bob’s Nightmare (pp. 171-181, 4th Edition). Over time, only slight changes have been made from the original Daily Readings Book, primarily to include some slight pagination changes resulting from the Fourth Edition’s new Foreword, and inclusion of the Step Three and Step Seven Prayers, etc.