Pair Reading

by Peter Saint-Andre


Over the last few months I've taken up a new practice: reading with friends. The concept is simple: choose a friend, choose a book, slowly read it, and share thoughts on each chapter as you go along. It's kind of like pair programming for intellectual exploration.

So far I've been reading (or I'm about to start reading) the following books:

That might sound like a lot, but since we read slowly (a chapter every week or two), it's easy enough to make leisurely progress.

As to why I'm not reading books in larger groups as you might find in a college seminar or the Catherine Project, I feel that the one-to-one interaction (e.g., the choice of books to read) is more tailored to my relationship with a specific person and thus approaches more closely what Emerson in his essay on friendship called "the high freedom of great conversation, which requires an absolute running of two souls into one".

Naturally, in parallel I'm maintaining my own "single reading" (currently focused on Aristotle's Metaphysics), but I find the pair reading even more rewarding.

(Cross-posted at


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