Understanding the AA Preamble - Literature

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : November 21 , 
| 4 Sources

The Best Alcoholics Anonymous Books
There's plenty of AA literature about, we take a look at the ten most popular books about the program.

AA Preamble-Literature

The AA Preamble - Literature is among the many facets of Alcoholics Anonymous that has a significant role in how the organization helps its members to recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous has its own publishing house in order, it is said, to maintain AA's integrity, which is, for the program, a good thing. There is a substantial amount of Alcoholics Anonymous literature that has been published over the years, many praising the organization and a sizable minority criticizing it.

While this page will talk about ten of the commonly used articles, know that there are many, many more options that can help you throughout your recovery.

However it can also mean that a critical eye is not cast over some of their output.

There is also plenty of other Alcoholics Anonymous literature written by people about AA. This is not published by AA's own press so it can have a more balanced approach.

You can read about the critical variety elsewhere, here we concentrate on the ten books that are essential reading for anyone involved in the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

AA Preamble Literature

The Top Ten Alcoholics Anonymous Books

1. The Big Book of AA

Naturally, the leader in Alcoholics Anonymous books would have to be the Alcoholics Anonymous - Big Book.

The original Big Book was first published back in 1939. The book told the story of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

They shared their own personal experience with alcoholism as well as giving many practical tips that helped them find and maintain sobriety.

This remains the most famous and most read of the Alcoholics Anonymous books as the entire tenets of the organization originate with that text. The Big Book is often referenced during AA meetings, and is strongly recommended to members to read.

The Big Book has since been updated and revised to reflect changes in language and popular culture. The current version was published in 2001. Some groups are able to provide copies of The Big Book due to donations collected from group members.

You can purchase The Big Book from providers such as amazon.com. Electronic versions of The Big Book for Kindle or Nook are also available for a lower cost.

2. Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is another of Bill Wilson's works.

Published in 1953, this was a collection of Wilson's essays that explained the twelve step program in detail.

These steps had just been formally adopted three years earlier. This book is often used during Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

There are certain meetings that involve reading a step or tradition from it and discussing how it relates to each individual participating in the meeting.

These meetings, that use this specific book, are generally called 'Step Meetings' or 'Tradition Meetings'.

By clicking on the AA link you will find an electronic version of the Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions. This can be helpful for individuals who are unable to purchase the book and are still interested in reading the message from Bill Wilson.

3. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age

Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age was published in 1957.

This book is a history of how AA came to be and what they stood for. This book talks about how AA meetings began and how the Steps and Traditions came to be. This book also talks about how the AA fellowship moved overseas.

This is one of the Alcoholics Anonymous books that helped to spread awareness of the group's goals and philosophies.

Electronic versions of this book can be purchased from the AA website. A hard cover copy of this book can be purchased from retailers such as amazon.com

AA Preamble-Literature

4. Daily Reflections

Daily Reflections is a book along the principles of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A short meditative essay is provided for daily reading, each written by an AA member.

There are many books similar to this, each having a daily inspirational/educational thought or quote to help those in recovery. This one, however, is specifically written by and for Alcoholics anonymous participants.

The Daily Reflections book is something that can be read daily and used to spark a conversation between a sponsor and sponsee, or among sober individuals. The reflections are often used in addiction treatment programs as a conversation starter for groups or individual sessions.

An electronic version of Daily Reflections can be purchased from the AA website. A hard copy of the book can be found being sold at retailors such as amazon.com.

5. Living Sober

Living Sober is one of the Alcoholics Anonymous more practical guides. It is a 90 page pamphlet that looks at how AA members stay sober day to day. 

Rather than simply sharing stories, this book offers real guidance for living a life free of alcohol. Some find that this book can be helpful when struggling to understand “one day at a time” or finding it an overwhelming concept.

As with most AA related books, an electronic version of the book can be purchased from the AA website. A paperback version of the book can be found being sold at retailers such as amazon.com.

6. As Bill Sees It

As Bill Sees It is an anthology of writings by Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA. It can be a daily source of inspiration and comfort. It remains one of the more popular selections in the Alcoholics Anonymous books on offer.

It can be very cathartic to realize that alcoholism's effects on the individual and those around him or her are the same today as they were seventy years ago.

An electronic version of As Bill Sees I can be purchased from the AA website. A hardcover version of the book can be purchased from realtors such as amazon.com.

7. Came to Believe

Came to Believe is one of the Alcoholics Anonymous most popular inspirational readings.

As with other volumes of Alcoholics Anonymous literature, this was compiled from writings of AA members. The writings talk about what “spiritual awaking” means to them, and how this experience impacted their recovery.

This can be a helpful read for individuals who have a hard time understanding what a spiritual awaking can look like. 

An electronic version of Came to Believe can be purchased from the AA website. A hardcover version of the book can be purchased from realtors such as amazon.com.

8. Experience, Strength and Hope

Experience, Strength and Hope is another compilation of stories of the personal experiences of AA members.

Many of the publications from AA literature have drawn from personal stories of members. These stories were included in the first three editions of the Big Book, and are not in the current version of The Big Book which was revised in 2001.

The purpose of this is to encourage members to relate to others' experiences of alcoholism and recovery.

This is so they can see that they and their problems are not 'special' and that recovery from alcoholism is a very real possibility whatever circumstances they are currently going through.

An electronic version of Experience, Strength and Hope can be purchased from the AA website. A hard-copy version of the book can be purchased from realtors such as amazon.com

9. The Language of the Heart

The Language of the Heart contains an anthology of stories and articles that Bill Wilson wrote for The Grapevine magazine through the years.

These stories highlight the evolution of the group through time. Many find that his stories are relatable and sill relevant to current struggles.

A hardcover version of The Language of the Heart can be purchased from realtors such as amazon.com.

10. Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers

Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers tells us of the other founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Bob Smith, as well as the early history of AA and how it grew.

Many find that this book is informational and an easy read.

A hard copy version of Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers can be purchased from realtors such as amazon.com.

This is a short list of books that are relevant to Alcoholics Anonymous. Other options to read can be found on the AA website. Another option would be to ask other alcoholics about what they have read that they found helpful or relatable.

Alcoholics Anonymous Literature, or more precisely that published by the program's own publishing house, is specifically aimed at recovering alcoholics participating in the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

The books are not examples of outstanding literature, they are not trying to be. They are written with the sole purpose of encouraging alcoholics in their fight against alcoholism. Many can relate to the experiences in the literature, as there are many shared experiences among alcoholics.

For more information on Alcoholics Anonymous and AA meetings, click the link.  However, if you want to undergo alcoholism treatments to help with the support groups, you may contact a treatment provider today.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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