There’s no shortage of books for the agnostic, atheist and freethinker in AA, and more are being written and published all the time. It’s not at all uncommon for an agnostic AA group to read from these books as part of their meeting. This of course is perfectly acceptable as every group is autonomous, and nobody in AA dictates what books can and cannot be used during a meeting. There is a misunderstanding among many in AA of the term “Conference Approved Literature”. This designation may lead one to believe that literature used in an AA meeting must be approved by the General Service Conference. Thankfully, this is not the case. Just because the Conference hasn’t approved a particular work, does not mean that it disapproves.

You will find in these books a wide array of experience among secular people in AA, and we believe that anyone in recovery could benefit from reading them regardless of their religious and spiritual beliefs or lack of belief.

The description for each book was provided by the publisher and is posted on Amazon. Many of these books have also been reviewed by  AA Agnostica ,and where that’s the case, a link is provided to the review.

The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps

Author: Roger C


“A celebration of the varieties of recovery experience.” From the foreword by William L. White, author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America.

“There are many versions of the 12-Step program of recovery. In fact, there are about as many versions as there are alcoholics in AA who use the program to get sober and to maintain their sobriety.” Thus begins The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps.


* Twenty alternative versions of the 12 Steps reflecting a wide range of philosophical, professional, religious, and cultural perspectives and traditions.

* Four interpretations of each of the Steps by well-known authors Stephanie Covington (A Woman’s Way through the Twelve Steps), Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart (Mindfulness and the 12 Steps), Allen Berger (The Therapeutic Value of the 12 Steps) and Gabor Maté (In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts).

* Templates so the reader can write her or his own personal alternative 12 Steps as well as record insights into – and interpretations of – each of the Steps.

* An essay that accurately and insightfully 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 of Alcoholics Anonymous in order to achieve a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.”

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

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

Common Sense Recovery

Author: Adam N


This book does something remarkable by describing how human behavior and recovery from alcoholism, once commonly understood in religious terms in AA, are now better understood in a secular fashion. Common Sense Recovery: An Atheist’s Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous presents the key elements of recovery from alcoholism – some of which are detailed in the 12 Steps – in a refreshing and non-religious manner and is helpful to atheists, agnostics and everyone else in recovery in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

Don’t Tell: Stories and Essays by Agnostics and Atheists in AA

Author: Roger C

do tell

Don’t Tell contains a total of 64 stories and essays mostly by agnostics and atheists in AA originally posted on the website AA Agnostica over the last three years. These were written by over thirty men and women from three countries, the United States, Canada and Great Britain. The book is a diverse and eclectic sampling of writings by women and men for whom sobriety within the fellowship of AA had nothing at all to with an interventionist God. “Don’t Tell is an important book for anyone interested in the future of Alcoholics Anonymous and the future of alcoholism recovery.” (From the Foreword by Ernest Kurtz, Author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, and William White, Author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America.)

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

Do Tell!: Stories by Atheists and Agnostics in AA

Author: Roger C

Do Tell Book

This book contains thirty stories – an equal number by women and men – by atheists and agnostics who tell us “what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now” as they made their way to a life of long-term sobriety within the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Storytelling is the essence of AA. It is in sharing our “experience, strength and hope” in recovery that we are able to help others within our Fellowship. The diversity and richness of the stories contained in Do Tell! will no doubt be an inspiration and provide important support to nonbelievers within the often overly-religious fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

 The Alternative 12 Steps

Authors: Martha Cleveland, Arlys G., Forward by Roger C


In 1991, two women were successfully working the 12-Step program… and they were atheists. They knew the program worked, and translated the Steps into secular terms. This ground-breaking book – as valuable today as it was when it was first written – is their sharing of this secular translation.

In The Alternative 12 Steps: A Secular Guide to Recovery, Martha Cleveland and Arlys G. show how the 12-Step program can be interpreted and worked by those who simply do not believe in an interventionist deity. At the same time the authors conscientiously maintain the intention and integrity of the program – its values, scope and depth. A chapter is devoted to each Step. The language is clear, engaging and personal.

The Foreword to this Second Edition of the book begins with a striking quote from Chapter Three which captures the essence of both the book and the 12 Steps: “We can learn the universal, generic pattern of life’s dance from the 12 Steps. But in our individual dance of life, we choose our own music and dance our own dance.”

This is a unique, inspiring and helpful book for anyone – regardless of belief or lack of belief – who would like to work the 12 Step program.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

A History of Agnostic Groups in AA

Author: Roger C

Kindle Edition


The first agnostic AA meeting was held in Chicago on January, 7, 1975. Since that time, agnostic groups have been organized in AA throughout North America and Europe. This book tells the tale of some of the first agnostic groups in AA, how they were founded and by whom. It also outlines the trials and tribulations of some of the more recent agnostic groups, and how they have been received, or not received, within traditional AA.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

 A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous

Author: John Lauritsen


A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous is written by an A.A. member with 46 years of continuous sobriety, who believes that he owes his life to the A.A. Fellowship.

There are plenty of books that attack Alcoholics Anonymous or defend it uncritically or supplement it with personal testimonies or various tweaks. A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous will be the first one to celebrate and defend the things in A.A. that are right, but also, with no holds barred, to criticize the things that are wrong and ought to be changed.

An atheist for all of his adult life and a long-time contributor to the secular humanist press, Lauritsen bases his recovery on the what he calls the True A.A., the A.A, that works: the 24-Hour Plan and the Fellowship. He regards the religiosity in A.A. as detrimental to recovery from alcoholism.

A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous is especially written for nonbelievers in recovery, who face difficult choices: going it alone or attending regular A.A. groups, secular A.A. groups, or secular alternative groups. But everyone who has an alcohol problem, or who knows someone who has one, can benefit from this book.

Chapters describe Lauritsen’s experiences in recovery, his analyses of the 24-Hour Plan and the A.A. Fellowship, his research on early A.A. history and forerunners of A.A., his objections to recitation of the “Lord’s Prayer” in meetings, “A Freethinker’s Steps for Recovery from Alcoholism”, a heavily annotated Select Bibliography on Alcoholism, suggestions on how freethinkers can gain fellowship without sacrificing their principles, and his conclusions on how A.A. should be reformed.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

 Key Players in AA History

Author: Bob K


Today, there are over two million members of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a life-saving fellowship. But who started it, and when? Most people know about the co-founders, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who met in 1935 and formally launched AA. But who are the other “key players” in the history of AA? Well, there’s Dr. William Silkworth, Bill’s doctor at Towns Hospital. And Marty Mann, one of the first women in AA, and the founder of the National Council on Alcoholism. And Clarence Snyder, who started the first AA meeting in Cleveland. And many more fascinating men and women.

Key Players in AA History by bob k not only tells us about these people, but in the process also provides a fresh understanding of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. The book is well researched and a true pleasure to read. As Ernie Kurtz and Bill White put it in the Foreword: “The profiles crafted by bob k are drawn from multiple sources and presented in an engaging manner accessible to all those interested in the history of AA. So let the stories begin.”

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

 Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life

Author: Joe C


Rebellion Dogs Publishing is proud to announce a 21st century daily reflection book. Beyond Belief’s 2014 second printing is now available with a Foreword by Ernie Kurtz and updated links and End Notes. What are “agnostic musings”? It is not news to anyone that the war of worldviews makes for sporting debate; does an intervening God grant sobriety, serenity, wisdom and courage or is conscious contact a delusion? Sorry, while we might be as amused as anyone with this question, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life doesn’t enter this debate.

Hate the game; don’t hate the players. A good idea is a good idea. Why dismiss valid experience because of the beliefs that someone harbors? Beliefs aren’t facts. Beyond our belief is where life is happening: chances have to be taken; processes have to be evaluated; life has to be lived. Atheists, humanists, skeptics and agnostics will feel included in these daily reflections. Believers won’t feel mocked or belittled. Everyone in recovery is included. No one needs to adopt the beliefs of someone else nor deny our own beliefs to get clean and sober. Believing and belonging are not synonymous. We are well into Century 21. Anyone should feel free to doubt or believe with impunity. Everyone’s experience is a valid currency. The 12 Step community has no experts. Rebellion Dogs Publishing neither canonizes nor vilifies 12 Step culture. This book draws on philosophy, psychology, entertainment, art, spiritual musings, skeptical inquiry and the uncanny wisdom of the rooms.

Professional and 12&12 Member reviews:

Melissa D., Clinical Psychologist, California says, “I have never seen a daily devotional book written for agnostics. I found the readings to be extremely thought provoking. I wonder sometimes since there is such talk about God at meetings, what kind of turn-off that must be for agnostics. I think this book will be very helpful to both the newcomer and the mature 12 Step member.”

Bob K, contributor to says, “I expected his book to be good. It’s WAY, WAY better than good. The book is outstanding. Two decades of not being a ‘daily reflections’ kind of guy, are over. Now I have reflections worth reflecting over! Buy this book or you will suffer a horrible and painful death! Well, maybe not, but you’ll be missing out on something very good.”

Michel D. says, “AA can, and must, adapt to changing circumstances and Bill Wilson was the first one to admit it. Unfortunately, members who have come after him are more zealous than our first members. We have seen this dogmatism in history before of course, especially in religion. This is a very slippery slope. I really like the fact that these reflections are for anyone who has an open mind. It does not cater to a specific group to the exclusion of others.”

Denis K. says, “Many thanks for this great book; my Monday night group and I are having some great discussions related to the daily musings both at the group and often during the week over coffee. All of us were quickly losing interest in the local meetings; Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life gave all of us a much needed spark that has renewed our interest in the fellowship.” Dr. Amy, MSW, PhD, adds, “One criticism of the 12 Step movement of course is that its dogma can be limiting—Beyond Belief seems to have addressed this. The quotes are cogent, the organization superb and the contributors are diverse.” The book includes an index of over 120 topics, extensive notes and a bibliography.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

 Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higherpower

Author: Marya Hornbacher


For those who don’t believe in God, feel disconnected from the ideas of God presented in organized religion, or are simply struggling to determine their own spiritual path, Marya Hornbacher, author of the New York Times best sellers Madness and Wasted, offers a down-to-earth exploration of the concept of faith.

Many of us have been trained to think of spirituality as the sole provenance of religion; and if we have come to feel that the religious are not the only ones with access to a spiritual life, we may still be casting about for what, precisely, a spiritual life would be, without a God, a religion, or a solid set of spiritual beliefs.

In Waiting, best-selling author Marya Hornbacher uses the story of her own journey beginning with her recovery from alcoholism to offer a fresh approach to cultivating a spiritual life. Relinquishing the concept of a universal “Spirit” that exists outside of us, Hornbacher gives us the framework to explore the human spirit in each of us–the very thing that sends us searching, that connects us with one another, the thing that “comes knocking at the door of our emotionally and intellectually closed lives and asks to be let in.”

When we let it in and only when we do, she says, we begin to be integrated people. And we begin to walk a spiritual path. And there are many points along the way where we stop, or we fumble, or we get tangled up or turned around. Those are the places where we wait.

Waiting, you’ll discover, can become a kind of spiritual practice in itself, requiring patience, acceptance, and stillness. Sometimes we do it because we know we need to, though we may not know why. In short, we do it on faith.

Marya Hornbacher is the author of two best-selling nonfiction titles, Madness: A Bipolar Life andWasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. She has also authored a recovery handbook, Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps, and a critically acclaimed novel, The Center of Winter.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica 

An Atheists Unofficial Guide to AA for Newcomers

Author: Vince Hawkins


Self-help book aimed at expanding the people helped by Alcoholics Anonymous by keeping those on board who would otherwise be put off by the god stuff

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

An Atheists Unofficial Guide to AA Oldtimers Edition

Author: Vince Hawkins

Atheist AA Oldtimers

Self-help book aimed at expanding the people helped by Alcoholics Anonymous by keeping those on board who would otherwise be put off by the god stuff

 Vince Hawkins is an Alcoholics Anonymous member of 15 years and a life member of the British Humanist Association. He wishes to increase the catch of people helped by 12 step programs by widening the net to embrace those put off by the god stuff. He is a frequent traveler from his home base in Valencia, Spain, attending AA and other twelve step meetings wherever he goes including Asia, Europe and the US. His website is at

As an atheist his books are likely to be most useful to non-religious addicts including agnostics who wish to weigh up both sides of the argument. They are aimed at people who want to stop drinking, gambling and using drugs or give up anger, bullying, addictive sex and overeating. This list can be extended to include other addicts and people who simply want to stop behaving badly and improve their behavior. Just as the religious have no exclusive right to suffer from hangovers and withdrawal symptoms, neither have they cornered the market in serenity and spirituality or good deeds. Non-believers in gods can enjoy these human traits just as much and more so.

Vince’s past role as a stockbroker’s investment analyst means he has followed in the footsteps of Bill W, author of Alcoholics Anonymous or the Big Book, in more ways than one. He has also been a journalist and editor.

 A Woman’s Way Through The Twelve Steps

Author: Stephanie S. Covington, Ph. D.

Women’s recovery can differ from men’s, and each person’s recovery is in many ways unique. That’s why Stephanie Covington has designed A Women’s Way Through the Twelve Steps to help a woman find her own path-and find it in terms especially suited to the way women experience not just addiction and recovery but also relationships, self, sexuality, and everyday life. Unlike many ”rewritten” Twelve Step interpretations for women, this guide works with the original Step language, preserving its spirit and focusing attention on its healing message.

This compilation of a diverse group of real women’s voices and wisdom illuminates how women understand the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and offers inspiring stories of how they have traveled through the Steps and discovered what works for them. The book can be used alone or as a companion to The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

By drawing attention to how recovery raises special issues for women – from questions about sexuality and relationships to essential topics such as powerlessness, spirituality, and trauma – A Woman’s Wayempowers women to take ownership of their recovery and to grow and flourish in sobriety.Also available in Spanish.

 Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

The Five Keys to 12 Step Recovery Without A God

Author: Archer Voxx

Five Keys

This groundbreaking, short book by Archer Voxx is the best resource available for people who have trouble with the “god stuff” of the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Five Keys provides insight into the program that makes the religious elements transparent and allows you to work the program without a God or Higher Power.

Archer Voxx is an accomplished writer and a recovering alcoholic and addict. He has used the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous successfully for his recovery. The Five Keys is based on experience gained through inpatient and outpatient treatment, addiction therapy, the 12-Step program, and research for this book. In addition to his work in the AA community, he is a resource for family groups and Al-Anon participants who are seeking help for friends and family who suffer from addiction.

Twelve Steps to Psychological Good Health and Serenity – A Guide

Author: Gabriel M.A. Segal

12 Steps to Psychologica Healing

 The twelve-step program has proved to be a fully effective treatment for alcoholism and other addictions. Segal shows how the program can bring relief from depression, anxiety and discontent in non-addicts too. As a first-rate philosopher and cognitive scientist, he offers an incisive science-based account of the psychological causes of restlessness, irritability and discontent and explains how the program works to overcome them. As a practitioner of the steps, he provides clear, easy-to-follow but thorough instructions for anyone, addict or not, wishing to do them. This book is must-reading for anyone seeking psychological good health and peace of mind.
Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

 Alcoholics Anonymous Universal

Author: Archer Voxx

AA Universal

Many individuals have difficulty with the religious tone of the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. This new version, by author Archer Voxx, is now available for these people. The Universal Edition consists of key chapters of the Big Book without the religious emphasis. All of the content of the Universal Edition is the same as the original Big Book, except that it is neutral from the standpoint of personal beliefs. The Universal Edition is completely compatible with all AA recovery work including meetings, sponsorship, and related activities. This is not a publication of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

My Name is Lillian and I’m an Alcoholic (and an Atheist)

Author: Lillian Sober-Atheist


My Name is Lillian and I’m an Alcoholic (and an Atheist) is one side of a conversation about sobriety from a secular perspective. In a series of short, fun, “warts and all” essays, Lillian describes how she uses the tools of Alcoholics Anonymous to build a better life without dependence on God or a Higher Power. Anyone looking for help, but uncomfortable with AA’s use of Judeo-Christian spirituality will find a refreshing take on sobriety and life.

Read the complete review on AA Agnostica

Another Atheist in Recovery

Author: Spikedup Frog

Another Atheist in Recovery

Twelve step programs have historically included religious ideas. Adherents historically deny the presence of religious ideas by claiming to be “spiritual, not religious.” If you are an atheist or agnostic in the rooms of recovery and having difficulty with the steps as written, you can write your own steps. Another Atheist in Recovery illustrates how one atheist has done just that. Also included are tips for atheists new to the rooms. Other topics addressed are safety and discrimination within recovery and tips for those new to abstinence.

This book is written for atheists who are also addicts.

Read the complete review at AA Agnostica

The 12 Step Philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Interpretation by Steve K.

Author: Steve K.

12 Step Phil.

An essay in three parts explaining the 12 Step Philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous by member Steve K. Written from a mainly humanistic perspective giving a liberal interpretation of what is commonly described by its members as a “spiritual program of recovery.”

The first part looks at the Steps from a more or less traditional viewpoint, although at points current models of therapy are also applied to help demonstrate the practice. The second part of the essay looks at the virtues inherent within the practice of the 12 Steps and also offers explanation in terms of Aristotle’s ‘Virtue Theory’ of moral philosophy. Part three covers various topics of interest to those in 12 Step recovery, such as, Co-occurring illness and the idea of addiction being a disease.

This 3rd edition includes the author’s recovery story as a preface to the interpretations.

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