IMNSHO, there's no way to become familiar with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous like doing a study of the Big Book, paragraph by paragraph, in a group, with plenty of time to comment and discuss with each other.
Tuesday night my sponsor, in his home, started [what I think is] the fourth such annual study group. Most years, including this year, we use what I recently learned is the Hyannis rotation to determine which pages in the Big Book to read for which steps. It comprises "The Doctor's Opinion" and chapters 3 ("More About Alcoholism"), 4 ("We Agnostics"), 5 ("How It Works"), 6 ("Into Action") and 7 ("Working with Others"). While not specified we usually read Appendix II ("Spiritual Experience"), which of course was added after the first printing of the first edition to clarify that not every alcoholic need have a as vivid an experience as Bill W. had in order to recover. Last year we also used Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
It was originally my suggestion that we follow the Hyannis rotation. I knew about it because of a regular Big Book Step Study group that I attend whenever I can. At that group's meeting, we read a page at a time rather than a paragraph at a time, but the discussion generally stays focused on the step being studied and is usually quite excellent. I've learned a tremendous amount there.
That Big Book Step Study group was started about a dozen years ago and originally used the chairperson's guidelines (somewhat loosely I believe—I only started attending later) and the Hyannis Preamble, modified so that only those who had worked all twelve steps could share. Early on, by group conscience, they abandoned that requirement, as well as the one in the Hyannis Preamble that only those who had worked the step being studied could share.
So far as I know this group was never—and is still not—listed in the Hyannis directory of "official" Big Book Step Study meetings. I'm just as glad. The idea of putting an "official" seal of approval on any group disturbs me. I'm not exactly sure why, though the first—and, so far, only—thought that comes to mind is that it may violate the Third Tradition: an A.A. group can have no other affiliation than that with A.A. itself.
P.S. On an entirely unrelated note, the fortune cookie that came with my Thai lunch said, "You are the master of every situation." Ha!