I'm capping it at three. Each group serves a distinct purpose:
1. The weekly spiritual-reading group. We are reading Karen Armstrong's The Great Transformation. Ch.1 for this Friday.
2. The wine-drinking book group that rarely discusses the book. We are reading Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, for Sept. 27.
3. My new-ish friend Emilie's hand-picked group from all over the Philly metro area. No, make that just Montco, Delco, and northwest Phila. One member has stipulated no religious or political themes (How amusing!). So it's a good thing I'm in Book Group No. 1. Anyway, we are reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and will discuss it Oct. 21.
My method is to read a little of Armstrong every morning before the boys are up, because that one takes the most concentration. Case Histories is an afternoon book. I'll read Devil in the White City in October. The Armstrong book is really absorbing. She writes about the "Axial Age," which was approximately 1500 BC to 200 BC, when most of our religious traditions began. She then goes on to claim that the religious thought of the Axial Age, whether it was rabbinical, Buddhist, Confucian, Greek, or Islamic, was a deeply humane model for us to learn from. Over the centuries their precepts were degraded and narrowed, especially by fear-based theology and aggressive societies seeking divine permission. It's clear that she is writing to the post-9/11 West, translating, if you will, wisdom from an earlier age and showing us its power and relevance. Amstrong warns us that "Unless there is some kind of spiritual revolution that can keep abreast of our technological genius, it is unlikely that we will save our planet." (Intro., xi)
Domestic Anecdote (because I hate to end with downer prophetic warnings):
Jack crept into bed with us this morning and murmured, "Mommy, I love you and Daddy and Will and Kato more than anything else in the world." Kato? That would be our cat, the one who this very morning vomited into the frying pan.