Music as a Reading Companion

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This image is in the public domain in the United States. In most cases, this means that it was first published prior to January 1, 1923 (see the template documentation for more cases). Other jurisdictions may have other rules, and this image might not be in the public domain outside the United States.

Last week I talked about Music as a Writing Companion. This week let’s flip that and talk about reading to music. Do you need silence to focus on what you’re reading? Does music in the background distract you?

When in high school, a teacher told us not to listen to music while were doing homework or studying. If we felt we had to have background noise, we should listen to classical music. I think his intentions were to keep us from getting distracted by the lyrics.

I’ve always enjoyed classical music. Yes, I was laughed at while in school. My fondness for Tchaikovsky baffled my friends. I still listen to classical music, but more often than not I turn to movie soundtracks for background noise. And so, as I read the Hunger Games trilogy it was to the soundtrack from The Beautiful Country, a mediocre film with an exceptional soundtrack.

To this day, when I hear that music, I’m transported to that worn out sofa I called my reading spot and am reminded of Katniss Everdeen and her world. (I’ve since moved and replaced the sofa with a recliner)

While reading the first two books in the Divergent series, I listened to the soundtrack to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The same thing happens when I hear that music – that transportation to a different place and the reminder of a different world.

While I read the books in those series, the music was in the background. I wasn’t focused on it. If it stopped, I noticed and hit play again, but it didn’t distract me. In a way, it became a part of the story. When I read Allegiant I tried to find background music, but gave up and read in silence. It didn’t dawn on me until after I turned the last page that I should have played the soundtrack to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Photo provided by Radoslava Todorova & stock.xchng

Photo provided by Radoslava Todorova & stock.xchng

After watching the HBO series Game of Thrones based on A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin, the desire to read the books took hold, but I hesitated. When my nephew told me he read the first book and couldn’t put it down, I knew I had to read it. So, I bought book one.

I knew from the TV series the kind of music I wanted to accompany my reading journey. It would have been easy to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, but unless you have a premium or unlimited account you have to deal with commercials. Nothing like an advertisement to jolt you out of the moment. So, I opted to dip into my side account and purchase the season one soundtrack. It has been a perfect companion to my reading.

For me, music as a reading companion is like the soundtrack to our lives. I’m sure you’ve heard a song on the radio and it transported you to a different time and place at least once in your life. In this case, the soundtracks for movies remind me of books instead of the movies they were written to accompany. I don’t know if that is bad or good.

I don’t like music with lyrics when I’m reading. It’s too distracting and having a television on while I read is downright bothersome. I wasn’t always that way. I could read while others around me watched TV. I used to sleep with a radio on and can’t do that anymore either. But I digress.

What about you. Does music accompany your reading journeys?