The Little Book – Second Edition

Fifty Chosen Articles:
Number Twenty-Six.
The sixth of seven consecutive book reviews.
Originally posted in January 2021.

There are many versions of the 12-Step program of recovery.
In fact, there are as many versions as there are alcoholics in AA.

by Roger C


AA Agnostica has now published a total of ten books in the last eight years. And the last two of these ten were just published and are now available! These are:

  1. The second edition of The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps, and
  2. Its French translation Le petit livre jaune: Les douze étapes vues autrement.

More about these books is coming up, but first, a bit about Alcoholics Anonymous.

Let’s be clear: AA needs to grow up. It hinges itself almost entirely on something called the Big Book, in which the word “God” or another version of “Him” is found 281 times in the first 164 pages. And six of the 12 Steps have a supernatural, interventionist and male God in them. Why is that? Well, it’s an ancient book, published in 1939. And its author was a member of the Oxford Group, a Christian evangelical movement that had its heyday in the 1930s. The USA was very Christian at that time. It took another couple of decades – 1962 – before the Supreme Court banned the use of prayers – including the Lord’s Prayer – at public schools (The Lord’s Prayer and the Law).

The Big Book is eighty-two years old! Worse yet, it is “Conference-approved” by AA. What does that mean? Well, it means that if you go to a traditional AA meeting – the overwhelming majority of the meetings are “traditional” – you will only find a very few “Conference –approved” books on a Literature Table and all of them very old. Everything else written about alcoholism and what might help you in recovery is either rejected or ignored.

I got sober a little over a decade ago. While I was in rehab – Homewood in Guelph, Ontario – I tried to find literature on recovery, other than the ancient and godly AA stuff. Couldn’t find a thing. And, to be honest, at the time there were very, very few books that were either contemporary or written by and respectful of non-believers in recovery.

That is why a few years later, after the creation of the AA Agnostica website, I started to publish a few books. The very first was The Little Book.

Let me also add this: there are many, many other new and wonderful secular AA books by a variety of authors these days. Here are just two of them. Beyond Belief – Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. The author, Joe C, was one of the founders of the first ongoing secular AA meeting in Canada, also called Beyond Belief. I met Joe when I was a regular attendee of that meeting. And Staying Sober Without God. The author is Jeffrey Munn, a Californian, who attended a Secular Ontario AA Roundup (SOAAR) which I helped organize prior to the pandemic and was held in my hometown, Hamilton, Ontario.


The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps was first published in 2013. The title was chosen to indicate that, while it was all about the Steps and recovery, it was in some ways the opposite of the Big Book.

The second edition now contains 20 versions of the 12 Steps. The oldest version, I believe, which is also in the First Edition, are the Humanist 12 Steps published in 1987 and written by B. F. Skinner, a winner of the Humanist of the Year award.

There are four new versions in the second edition. The newest version is The Practical 12 Steps which is in the book Staying Sober Without God published in 2019 and written by Jeffrey Munn. And, thanks to the French translator, Louise, there is also a version created by the first ever secular AA group in Québec, les Libres-penseurs (Freethinkers). Those Steps were shared in an article on AA Agnostica in 2018.

The Little Book still contains four secular interpretations of each one of the Steps. No “Higher Power” is required or demanded. It’s all about “a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism”. And that’s your goal and your work, and to this end, with the support and encouragement of others in recovery.

More about the second edition can be found below. Overall it has been updated, and hopefully it has been made even more pleasurable to read. I encourage you to read The Little Book – even though it’s not “Conference-approved” – and, indeed, to read any number of the more contemporary and very helpful books on the topic of recovery.

THE LITTLE BOOK – Second Edition

“A beautiful testimony to AA’s living history.” Ernest Kurtz, author, Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Inside the book:

Part 1: Twenty alternative versions of the 12 Steps reflecting a wide range of perspectives.

Part 2: Four interpretations of each of the Steps by well-known authors.

After each of these parts, there are templates so the reader can write her or his own personal 12 Steps and an interpretation of each one of them.

Part 3: An essay that traces the origins of the AA 12 Step recovery program.

The Little Book is a celebration of the many ways people are today adapting and interpreting the original 12 Steps in order to achieve a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism”.

The paperback version – second edition – is available at Amazon USA. It is also available via Amazon in Canada and the United Kingdom and, well, several other continents and countries.

For a PDF of this article, click here: The Little Book – Second Edition.


1 Response

  1. Bill R. says:

    Thanks for the reviews.

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