Ishmael Reading Group

In this 8-week reading group participants will explore the rich ideas woven into Daniel Quinn’s novel Ishmael. Our first meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 27 at 2:00 pm EST. Check your local time here. Future meetings will be scheduled using a Doodle poll to accommodate participants’ schedules. Within 24 hours of registering you will receive a confirmation email with additional information. Please check your spam or junk email folders. This event is offered by donation, and will be facilitated by Eric Garza.



TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.

These words grace the first page of the first chapter of Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel Ishmael. This book had a profound influence on my life when I first read it in 2006, and I continue to draw on its themes as I ponder how best to navigate the changing world in which we all live. In this book Quinn explores the very roots of the social and environmental ills we struggle with. Perhaps you are in the mood for some learning and would care to read it with me? Or perhaps you have already read it and would welcome an opportunity to reflect on that experience?

This reading group begins with an orientation on Saturday, February 27, 2021, at 2:00 pm EST. Check your local time here. This meeting will be recorded so those who cannot attend can watch it at their leisure. Future meetings will scheduled using Doodle poll for the weekends of March 13-14, March 27-28, and April 10-11. I expect participants from North and South America, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand and will schedule two or three discussion sections each weekend that accommodate these time zones.

Below you will find more information about this reading group’s schedule, content, format, pricing, refund policy, and the terms and conditions associated with signing up. If you have further questions, email

Course Schedule and Content

Meeting 1, Orientation (Saturday, February 27, 2021 @ 2 pm EST): We will use this meeting to outline the structure and logistics of the reading group, to get to know one another, and to explore what inspired us all to come together around this novel.

Meeting 2, Myths and Stories (Saturday, March 13-14, 2021): Prior to joining this meeting, please read Chapters 1-5 in Ishmael so we can talk about the importance of myths and stories in our lives.

Meeting 3, Laws to Live By (Saturday, March 27-28, 2021): Prior to joining this meeting, please read Chapters 6-10 in Ishmael so we can talk about Quinn’s ideas of nature’s laws.

Meeting 4, Hands of the Gods (Saturday, April 10-11, 2021): Prior to joining this final meeting of our group, please read Chapters 11-13 in Ishmael, the book’s Afterward, and its Foreward. We will wrap up our book group with a discussion of Quinn’s exploration of how human beings ought to live.


Each meeting of this reading group will begin with a short guided meditation practice to ground participants, then transition into a discussion about the book chapters assigned for that week. Some of this discussion will happen in large groups, but much of it will happen in small breakout groups. We will use Zoom conference calling software to facilitate each meeting. Login information for each call will be sent to participants two days prior to the call, then again two hours before the call’s start to make it easy to find. All Zoom meetings will be recorded for the benefit of those unable to attend.

We will also use private discussion forums on this website to facilitate interaction between Zoom meetings. Eric will post prompts in the class’ discussion forums to inspire critical thinking as we progress through the book. Participants can start their own threads too. Participants will be encouraged to form kinship groups that meet separately.

Pricing and Refund Policy

This reading group is offered by donation, with a minimum price of zero dollars. To register you will need to type in the amount you want to pay before you can add the event to your cart and check out. As you consider how much to pay, consider your personal and family income, how much wealth you have access to, and how much value participating in this reading group might add to your life. If you have access to financial resources, consider that some participants who sign up will pay at the lower end of this sliding scale. Your generosity will help make the reading group financially viable. You can use the following suggested payment scale to guide you, if you would like:

  • Low income/wealth: $20 ($5 per meeting)
  • Middle income/wealth: $40 ($10 per meeting)
  • Upper-middle income/wealth: $80 ($20 per meeting)
  • High income/wealth: $160+ ($40+ per meeting)

Because cost of living varies geographically, I do not define income or wealth ranges associated with the above categories.

Participants can receive a full refund of their tuition if they cancel their registration via email before the first meeting on February 27. After the first meeting no refunds will be given except for extraordinary circumstances.

Read through Quillwood Academy’s terms and conditions to get a sense for our expectations we have of our participants.

We hope to see you when the reading group begins on February 27, 2021!