Some Notes On The Relationship Between Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) And The How It Works Daily Readings

To be of greatest service to the newcomer, the How It Works (HIW) group has chosen a format for twice a day meetings that focuses almost entirely on the material provided in Alcoholics Anonymous. Each regular meeting begins with a reading of the HIW Preamble, a reading from a portion of chapter 5, brief “announcements” and the reading of a brief selection from the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, as found in the HIW Daily Readings. At Thursday evening meetings, however, reading of the Twelve Traditions and a Traditions chapter from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are substituted for the readings from Chapter 5 and from HIW Daily Readings.

This format has proven successful over many years. These notes clarify the relationship between Alcoholics Anonymous and the HIW Daily Readings for anyone who desires additional information about the relationship.

With the exceptions noted below, the format of the HIW Daily Readings may be explained as follows: Sentences, paragraphs, and in some cases entire sections from Alcoholics Anonymous were cut into manageable pieces and then rearranged somewhat randomly to provide two “readings” per day, one for the morning meeting, another for the evening meeting.
The HIW Daily Readings are taken verbatim from the following parts of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous and all are properly cited (references are to the Fourth edition):

Preface (pp. xi-xii)
Foreword to the First Edition (pp. xiii-xiv)
Foreword to the Second Edition (pp. xv-xxi)
Foreword to the Third Edition (p. xxii)
Foreword to the Fourth Edition (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
The Doctor’s Opinion (pp. xxv-xxxii)
Chapters 1-11 (pp. 1-164)
Part I – Pioneers of A.A. (Introductory Page, unnumbered, following p. 164)
Doctor Bob’s Nightmare (pp. 171-181)
Appendix II, Spiritual Experience (pp. 567-568)

Using the material from the sections cited above, there was enough material to provide two readings a day, every day, for the period January 1 through June 30 of each year. The readings were then repeated in the exact same order for the period July 1 through December 31. Note that because of the uneven number of days in a calendar year, it was necessary that December 29-31 be exceptions to the “repetition” rule. Note also that no specific reading is provided for February 29 (i.e., Leap Year). The HIW Daily Readings allow for virtually every word, sentence, paragraph, and/or page in the first part of Alcoholics Anonymous (i.e., pp. 1-164, plus front matter and Dr. Bob’s story) to be read and discussed twice each year. Most notably, the tendency to omit material from the chapters “To the Wives” and “The Family Afterward” has been avoided.

For a variety of reasons, however, there are some exceptions to that general rule. In some cases, specific material appears more than the customary two times per year. In other cases, specific material in pp. 1-164 and small parts of Dr. Bob’s Story in Alcoholics Anonymous has been omitted from the HIW Daily Readings. It is to these exceptions that we now turn. No specific judgment should be made nor is any specific interpretation intended as to why certain material is emphasized or omitted. This citation of exceptions to the “twice a year” format is made for reference purposes only.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE TWICE A YEAR FORMAT:

The Doctor’s Opinion, p. xxvi: The two paragraphs beginning with “The physician who…” and ending with “…we cannot otherwise account” appear 3 times in the HIW Daily Readings (January 24, July 24, and December 29).

Chapter 1, Bill’s Story, p. 1: The last paragraph beginning with “Twenty-two…” and ending with “…utmost assurance” is omitted and does not appear anywhere in the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, p. 36: The first paragraph, beginning with the second sentence “We asked him…” and ending with “another glass of milk” does not appear anywhere in the HIW Daily Readings. The first sentence of that paragraph, however, appears as the last line in the April 10 and October 8 readings.

Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, p. 39: The last sentence of the first full paragraph “Let us take another illustration” is omitted and does not appear anywhere in the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 4, We Agnostics, p. 48: In the next to last line, the phrase “To illustrate:” is omitted and does not appear anywhere in the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 6, Into Action, p. 76: The second paragraph beginning with “When ready…” and ending with “Step Seven” appears in HIW Daily Readings on February 12 and August 12. The same material (commonly known as the Seventh Step Prayer) is repeated and stands alone at the beginning of the HIW Daily Readings (no pagination), but the opening and closing sentences of the paragraph are omitted.

Chapter 6, Into Action, pp. 76-77: The last paragraph on p. 77 beginning with “Probably there are still…” and ending on p. 78 with “… spiritual discoveries” appear only once, December 30, thereby proving an exception to the twice a year convention in the rest of the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 6, Into Action, p. 84: The middle paragraph beginning with “This though brings us…” and ending with “… is our code” appear only once, December 30, thereby proving an exception to the twice a year convention in the rest of the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 6, Into Action, pp. 86-88: Beginning with “When we retire at night…” and ending with “… entirely devoted to Step Twelve” appears as front matter entitled Daily Meditation, in addition to appearing normally in accordance with the twice a year convention in the rest of the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 7, To Wives, pp. 104-105: The last paragraph beginning with “We have traveled…” and ending with “… be themselves once more” appears only once, December 31, thereby proving an exception to the twice a year convention in the rest of the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 8, To Wives, p. 110: The last paragraph beginning with “Let’s now go back…” and ending with “…when reasonably used” is omitted and does not appear in the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 8, To Wives, p. 111-113: The last sentence on p. 111 beginning with “When a discussion…” and ending with “…powerful recoveries” on p. 113 is omitted and does not appear in the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, p. 123: The paragraph beginning with “Suppose we tell you…” and ending with “…family may be unhappy” appears 4 times in the HIW Daily Readings (January 10, June 30, July 10, and December 28).

Chapter 10, To Employers, in its entirety (with the exception of five paragraphs) is omitted and does not appear in the HIW Daily Readings. The exceptions are noted here (i.e., they are included and they follow the twice a year convention): p. 139, the paragraph beginning “If you desire …” and ending with “… this feeling rising” ; p. 141, the paragraph beginning “This is not to say …” and ending with “… a well man” ; pp. 147-148, the three paragraphs beginning “After reading …” and ending with “…exceptions are few.”

Chapter 11, A Vision for You, p. 152: The short paragraph beginning with “How is that to come about…” and ending with “… find these people” appears only once, December 31, thereby proving an exception to the twice a year convention in the rest of the HIW Daily Readings.

Chapter 11, A Vision for You, pp. 152-153: The paragraph beginning with “You are going to meet…” and ending with “…Love they neighbor as thyself” appears 3 times in the HIW Daily Readings (January 24, July 29, and December 31).

Chapter 11, A Vision for You, pp. 154-155: The paragraphs beginning with “One dismal afternoon…” and ending with “…meant to be an alcoholic” appear on June 10 and December 9. A large portion of that reading, beginning with “One dismal afternoon…” but ending one paragraph sooner with “…lifted the receiver” appears two more times on February 24 and August 24. The paragraph not included in the latter (beginning with “His call …” and ending with “… to be alcoholic” is, however, included again on March 2 and August 30.

Chapter 11, A Vision for You, pp. 162-163: The paragraph beginning “Thus we grow…” and ending “… need to begin” appears 4 times in the HIW Daily Readings (January 15, May 30, July 15, and November 27).

Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, p. 171: The paragraph beginning “I was born …” and ending with “… early educational activities” is omitted and does not appear in the HIW Daily Readings.

Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, pp. 172-174: Beginning with “The next three years…” and ending with “… into any trouble” the material is omitted and does not appear in the HIW Daily Readings.

Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, p. 175: The two paragraphs beginning with “Finally my father…” and ending with “… so disastrously before” are omitted and do not appear in the HIW Daily Readings.

Appendix II, Spiritual Experience, pp. 56-568: The paragraphs beginning with “In the first few chapters…” and ending “… greater than themselves” appear 4 times in the HIW Daily Readings (March 13, May 11, September 10, and November 8).

Appendix II, Spiritual Experience, p. 568: The paragraphs beginning with “Most of us think…” and ending “… But these are indispensable” appear 6 times in the HIW Daily Readings (February 23, March 7, June 20, August 23, September 4, and December 18).

Appendix II, Spiritual Experience, pp. 568: The last paragraph beginning with “There is a principle…” and ending “… Herbert Spencer” appears 4 times in the HIW Daily Readings (April 26, June 11, October 24, and December 9).

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