The idea of reading Angels and Demons flew right out the window when I realized that Book Group was coming up so swiftly. This month’s book is No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, a lovely collection of stories loosely tied up into a novel. It reminds me of the Nasrudin stories, the Shen Mien stories, and other such folktales of humble, clever people who outwit the arrogant and powerful.

I like Book Group for many reasons. The most obvious is the opportunity to talk about books with nice, smart ladies. I am the youngest member of the group, so I enjoy the chance to benefit from the other women’s wisdom. Some of them I do not know outside of the Book Group, which keeps them mysterious. And we meet at Arsaga’s on my lunch hour, so I get a walk and an uplifting break in my workday.

But one of the best things is that I get chances to read books I would not otherwise read. The Shelters of Stone I would not have read because it was a shallow and tedious book. But I did learn a number of things from it. The Student Conductor I would not have read simply because it was full of angst, and I have no patience with angst — but it was written by a local guy, a fellow #2 daughter has worked with, and so it was worth reading if for no other reason. The Pianist I would not have read just because it was a Holocaust memoir. I feel a duty to keep up to date on unpleasant current events, and even to know some basic information on unpleasant history, but in my leisure time I avoid unpleasant things. And The Pianist is a lovely book.

It is easy to read your favorite authors, or favorite genres, and stop there. The days of going into your local bookshop and getting an exciting book recommendation from the bookseller are about gone (except where I work, of course — I can do that for you any time, but who will do it for me?). So the Book Group is eye-opening for me.

I am halfway finished with Siv’s sleeves. Sleeves are fiddly and fussy, requiring lots of counting and measuring and tinking, but they are cooler to knit than the body of a sweater. Just not so easy to knit while you read.