Listening to Music while Reading

I have shared my issue in the past with Audiobooks.  It is not that I don’t believe that they count as reading, I just wish that I could use them.  I cant visualise things in my head so listening to a book doesn’t help me follow the story very well.  My other half finds it odd, and has jokingly informed me that I do not an imagination.  

Headphones, with text saying Listening to Music while reading

While I am aware that I do have an imagination, my mind doesn’t allow me to have pictures in my head I need to have groups of words to help me describe something.  I start to associate those words with a particular item, and if someone is describing something new I build up my word bank based on something I am already aware of. 

The reason I have explained this is to say that while I can’t listen to an audiobook and enjoy the story, I also cannot concentrate on reading if I can hear conversation happening around me. In all honesty I can struggle to concentrate if there is any level of conversation happening within my hearing.  

I am an auditory learner, so my brain is wired to listen to words or conversations, but I also hate it when it is silent, hence my love of listening to music.  

If I am somewhere in public, I like to be plugged into some music to help me concentrate, I even do it in my house during Nanowrimo.  If I am finding it difficult to find my flow when doing something creative, or if I need to focus on words on my page (or kindle) then I will put on some music.  

Listening to the right music can really add to the overall reading experience. I love listening to an Epic playlist when reading fantasy, especially the battle scenes, if you are reading the lord of the Rings putting the soundtrack on is phenomenal. If you are having a relaxing day putting some relaxing tunes on and getting out your book is amazing. 

There are a few different groupings on Spotify, or on YouTube for you to try if you want to give reading and listening to music a go. I do have a couple of tips that you may find helpful: 

  • Listen to instrumental music

If you can find the lyrics distracting try and find an instrumental playlist. depending on how you are feeling your brain may want to concentrate more on listening rather than reading the words in front of you.  Having music with no lyrics can help you to become more accustomed to having background noise when reading. 

If you want to be able to read while listening to music with lyrics there are some sets of music that only has the occasional word or two if you want to practice. 

  • Listen to music similar to your usual taste 

Don’t force yourself to sit through something that you hate listening to.  Music is full of personal choice, some people love classical music, some people prefer some jazz. Most people have access to some where you can make use of playlists of music that you enjoy rather than having to hunt for various pieces of music every time you need something new. 

You can even make your own playlists to help you to ensure that everything that you listen to is going to be something you enjoy.  

  •  Try and match your music to your book 

This is certainly personal preference but I find that listening to instrumental love songs while reading a high tension book, very difficult.  I personally like to try and add to the book’s atmosphere where I can. Obviously tension in books changes through out, as does the sprinkling of romance that is often added, but adding to the atmosphere where possible works for me. 

If you have never listened to music while reading and give this a go let me know about how you found it below.  


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