Why a Meditation Book

Based on the idea that studying actual persons reading for their own purposes can shed light on such problematic concepts as literacy, orality, voice, and self, a study explored the literate practices of a community of women outside the academy who use their reading and writing to enhance their spiritual growth. Subjects were six women (age mid-30s to mid-50s); all were White and members of Al-Anon, the fellowship of friends and relatives of alcoholics based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Their education ranged from GED to Master’s student. The literate bias of Al-Anon is obvious–members are exhorted to “read the literature.” AA’s founders, a stockbroker and a physician, seem to have woven middle-class assumptions about the value of literacy into “the program.” Since the informants had all been involved in Al-Anon for some time, they were able to talk about spirituality and reading and writing in the same breath