Yes, it is OK to
read from "non-AA" literature in an AA meeting.
Some groups independently decide to restrict themselves to
"conference approved" literature but are under no obligation to
When talking about whether a book is "AA approved" the question
is often this: "Is the book General Service Conference approved
literature?" Conference approval is only considered for books
published by AA World Service in NY (AAWS). It serves as a way
of saying that AAWS has put together a book and the General
Service Conference has approved it. AAWS organizes the General
Each AA group is the highest authority in AA and therefor free
literature it wants to. Both AAWS and the conference exist to
serve the groups and Tradition prohibits them from governing
In 1978 the AA General Service Office described what "Conference
Approved" means in their
Box 4-5-9 newsletter (Volume 23, No 4). Here the
General Service Office said:
(Conference Approved) does not mean the Conference disapproves
of any other publications. Many local A.A. central offices
publish their own meeting lists. A.A. as a whole does not oppose
these, any more than A.A. disapproves of the Bible or any other
publications from any source that A.A.'s find useful.
What any A.A. member reads is no business of G.S.O., or of the
The General Service Conference has also dealt with the
meaning of the term "Conference Approved" in a "Conference
Approved" pamphlet (SM F-29) called:
Here it is explained this way:
"Conference-approved" — What It Means to You
The term has no relation to material not published by G.S.O. It
does not imply Conference disapproval of other material
about A.A. A great deal of literature helpful to alcoholics is
published by others, and A.A. does not try to tell any
individual member what he or she may or may not read.
Books like the Original Manuscript and the First Edition of
the Big Book are not Conference Approved Literature since
there was no conference at the time they were published.
An odd side effect of a group that limits itself to conference
approved literature would be that if the rule were rigorously
followed, the group would not allow someone to read from Dr.
Bob's personal copy of the Big Book. As a First Edition, it
would lack conference approval.
Regional newsletters and literature also lack conference
approval but are widely used in meetings. Since 1954 the
Hazelden published "Twenty Four Hours a Day" (ISBN
9780894860126) has been very widely used in AA meetings and has
never been considered for conference approval.
The first AA group in Akron, Ohio (still going today) continues
to display the Bible that AA's founders read from in the
earliest meetings. What Bill or Bob would have considered fine
literature to read in a meeting would surely spark outrage in
some groups today.