Friday, August 28, 2009

Bookstore...

We have a new Barnes & Noble that opened up in our town recently. They just moved from one store to a new one the built across the parking lot from the old one. I guess the real point of the exercise was that they needed to move out of their old store so that Whole Foods (I call them Whole Paycheck) could expand.

Anyway, I had a B&N certificate from xmas, I'd not been to the new store and my wife needed something at Whole Foods so an adventure was planned.

My first impression of the new store is it seemed silly to have built a store that was smaller than the old store. Since the layout is a little different, it was hard to figure out how much smaller it was but this is a town that is big on big bookstores (we even have a thriving independent bookstore), so you'd think that they'd at least match the store they're putting in malls.

The next part was the hard part of the endeavor. The book that I was looking for was in the "Addictions & Recovery" section. I must tell you that it's been at least 15 years since I've deliberately even slowed down in front of that section in any bookstore.

A few years ago, I fell in with a set of folks who studies and reveres AA's Big Book as the only authority on Alcoholism and AA's program of recovery. As someone who'd spend countless hours in the self-help section, I'd reformed and we'd either ridicule or try to weed out any other source of recovery guidance.

I must say, I'm still mainly in that camp today...

But, someone who I respect had recommended a book that I'd borrowed from the library, it's now going on 3 weeks overdue and, I think I want to add it to my library - if only temporarily.

...besides, since I was just using a gift card, it's not like I'm really buying it, is it?

...oh, yeah...

Anyway, so here I was in the "forbidden" section in the new store and several things occured to me:
  1. This section is much smaller than it was 15 years ago. Personally, I think this might be a good thing. I sobered up in the middle of the alcoholism treatment boom. At the tail end of that, it seemed like everyone was writing a book and you could go to one of our local bookstores and see a wall of recovery literature. I'm sure some of it helped some people but it also may have ruined a good many AA meetings as folks shared some experience and opinions that are not consistent with AA's principles and program of recovery.
  2. Much of what is there is not only, at face value, probably confusing to an alcoholic (I'm not a "drug is a drug" kinda person), but, again, at face value, probably can support the sickness more than recovery.
  3. I don't think you can get what I've experienced in AA in a book. Several of the books reinforce this by suggestions like: "go to meetings" or, my favorite, "start a meeting". You can use a book to start a meeting with other people who've read that book and, well, I guess that's sort of how AA grew... But I just have visions that many of us who could join on a path are never going to meet.
  4. In this section, AA has pretty good support but everyone has their way of "improving" it. I guess you have to do that if you're going to get someone to buy your book.
  5. Surprisingly, they did have our Daily Reflections. That was the only AAWS literature that was there.
  6. They didn't have the book that I went after (even though their computer promised me it was there...).
So, this morning I ordered it online. In order to get free shipping, I also ordered another book that I may discard at some point in the future...

I wonder about AAWS books beyond the Big Book. I've heard from a past General Service Board trustee that we've got several (5-6?) books that have been completed and then placed on the shelf since there is perceived needless controversy over publication or that they didn't seem to meet the purpose for what they were published for. In another case, there was a dispute with the author over rights that could not be resolved.

In spite of the respect and regard I have for our Big Book (very high), I wonder if we (as AA) can or will ever be able to publish another book. Or even if we should...

Just random musings on a gorgeous Friday morning...

4 comments:

Syd said...

Al-Anon has several books. I personally like AA's 12 x 12 and As Bill Sees It. But I don't think that anything will "replace" the BB. It is an awesome book.

Susan DeAngelis said...

LOved your post...

Living Sober helped me out a lot. Also, daily reflections and meditations. But you can get that online.

I always liked a hard copy -- building a library.

Hugs,
Sue

Mary Christine said...

I fell in with the Big Book people early in my sobriety and I have never changed my mind. I just don't have much use for those other books. I have a whole library of religious books, but that's a whole different thing - in my mind. I just can't abide someone making money ripping off our beautiful program and trying to explain it, repackage it, make it more tolerable, etc. One time I had a new sponsee tell me that she would prefer to work the steps from a book she had called "The Kinder Gentler Twelve Steps" I told her that was fine with me, but she needed a new sponsor.

Scott W said...

I am surprised Amazon and other online book sources haven't closed all the physical book stores.