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Voice Of The Fans: Do You Listen To Music While Reading?

A couple of weeks ago I ran across this list of gifts for bookworms. In it are the usual ebook readers and accessories but one thing caught my attention: the $500 pair of Sennheiser headphones. Firstly, $500? I’m assuming most people don’t have the extra cash to drop on this pair, especially considering most people can’t really tell the difference between an expensive set of headphones and cheaper sets. Secondly, I don’t listen to music, or anything else, while reading. There was a time back in the day when I could read, or do homework, while the radio or the TV was on in the background but those days are long gone. Today I find I can’t concentrate with anything on in the background. Music, especially with words, is very distracting and podcasts are right out, as is TV.

I’m guessing I’m in the minority here as the idea of headphones as a gift for readers clearly warranted an entry in the list. So I’m asking all of you, do you listen to music while reading? If so, what kind do you listen to?

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

16 Comments on Voice Of The Fans: Do You Listen To Music While Reading?

  1. Dino Mascolo // December 24, 2010 at 1:55 am //

    I usually read without any music or noise. Sometimes I enjoy reading with an instrumental CD on real low. Usually a meditation type CD or nature sounds, piano, acoustic guitar. What’s interesting is I can go to my local Coffee Bean and read just fine with all the distractions that are going on around me, including music. Coffee and reading are just so compatible for me.

  2. If these are noise cancelling headphones then they may be usful for filtering out the TV the wife is watching.

  3. Can’t say that I listen to music when reading, but there’s usually some in the background, & generally something instrumental. More likely to be symphony/chamber music, jazz or dub than the genres mentioned above. 

    And if what I’m reading is even slightly good or interesting, pretty much everything around me is blocked out, even at a Coffee Bean or other noisy public place.


  4. Never understood people who do this.  I suspect them all of neglecting either the music or the reading. I can listen to music while cleaning or whatever, but even then I often find myself just sitting and listening to it.  These things shouldn’t be in the background! Do what you’re doing and enjoy that. Why do people always have to multi-task?  

  5. Dave Sansone // December 24, 2010 at 8:37 am //

    Use Bose headphones with Pink Floyd played softly.

  6. I don’t use headphones, but I always have Party 107 playing on iTunes while I’m reading on the john.

    Trance music is like audio Ritalin for me.

  7. I almostly always listen to music while I read.  Usually instrumental.  Depending on my mood, it will either be pretty rocking instrumental stuff like Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc, or some Acoustic Instrumental like Michael Hedges, Bill Frisell, Leo Kottke, or John Fahey.  It helps to focus my brain. Otherwise, I find I get too distracted by the rest of the world.

  8. My mind is tuned to ignore all ambient noise, including conversations, while watching TV or reading. It used to be that I would keep the radio on while reading, but over the last couple of years I have found my tolerance has gone down considerably. If it’s instrumental music, that’s not a problem, but anything with lyrics tends to distract me now. Sidenote: And I hate it when people talk at me while I’m reading.

  9. I listen to music mostly when I am writing, not when I am reading.

  10. I usually have the stereo going while reading…

    But I cant say I am listening.





  11. I have no problems listening to music while reading and will usually listen to just about anything.  Though expensive noise-canceling headphones seem a little over the top (more for gaming), unless you’re in a really noise place and want some personal space.  However I do have a problem when reading with the TV, especially if it’s dialogue, as that makes it harder for me to focus on the reading.  Otherwise, I prefer music with the reading; the quiet just makes it creepy.


  12. My preference is to read or write with minimal ambient sound. But where I work that’s not possible, so I put on a cheap pair of Koss earphones and listen to instrumental music to drown out the guy kvetching in the next cubicle. I have playlists of Beethoven’s symphonies and Halo soundtracks for just such occasions. Anything with lyrics is too much of a distraction (except for B’s 9th, which I can’t understand anyway).


  13. Well, I often listen to music when reading… And I usually select the music that seems to fit. I have fond memories of reading William Hope Hodgsons massive apocalyptic horror novel, “The Night Land” backed by Christopher Youngs scores to “Hellraiser 2”, “Hellraiser” and a number of other films.

    I also remember listening to an assortment of material including the Dune film score and selections from Blackhawk Down while reading the first two “Dune” novels…

    An assortment of golden-age SF I was reading went well with an assortment of music from films like Forbidden Planet, Destination Moon and the pulpish Sky Captain…

    Thanks to Howard Shore – next time I read Lord of the Rings I won’t have to rely on scores like Krull, Willow, Dragonslayer and the Rosenman score to the awful animated film…

    This is one of the advantages of a massive film music collection.

  14. Very rarely will I listen to music while reading. If I’m home alone or in a hotel room alone while traveling are just about the only times I specifically listen to music while reading. 


  15. I used to do homework and stuff with my favorite music playing.

    As I’ve gotten older, I have to have peace and quiet while I read.  That usually means I have to wait until the kids go to bed.

    I tried reading with soft, slow music in the background, but I still get distracted.


    I guess the Bose silencing headphones would work for me, but I’m definitely not going to buy any.

    But on another note, I can go to the library with people all over the place and can read just fine…  weird..

  16. I always listen to music while reading (and knitting) – Minnesota’s Classic NPR station always. I do keep the music at a low volume however, just loud enough that I can hear it.

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