Best Music to Listen to While Reading

If you feel like you need complete silence in order to concentrate, you’re not alone. You might find it challenging to read on public transportation, in coffee shops, or anywhere else you can overhear conversations and other distracting noises. However, listening to the right kind of music while reading can actually improve your concentration and make other distractions fade into the background. But what are the best types of music for reading?

Benefits of listening to music while reading

There have been multiple studies conducted on the effects of reading or studying and listening to music. According to Healthline, music can provide several benefits for listeners, including:

  • Better mood
  • Increased motivation
  • Improved memory and focus
  • Better pain management
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased focus (when listening on headphones in a noisy location)

Although we don’t fully understand why music affects our minds so much, Dr. Masha Godkin of Northcentral University explains, “Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory.”

Tips for selecting music to listen to while reading

Just like finding the perfect book, choosing what type of music to listen to is a highly personal choice. One person might find smooth jazz comforting and soothing, whereas someone else might find it distracting or annoying.

It might take a bit of trial and error before you stumble upon the best music for your personal taste. Until you find the right playlist or artist, these tips can help you narrow down your options:

  • Avoid songs with lyrics. If you try to listen to your favorite singer while reading, you’ll probably find yourself singing along in your head instead of focusing on your book. Lyrical music tends to be more distracting than anything else!
  • Listen to consistent music. This isn’t the time to pick pieces with sudden changes in tempo, volume, or instruments. The more consistent the sounds are, the less likely it is to draw your focus away from your reading.
  • Lower the volume. Playing the music at a soft volume will help it fade into the background and create a more relaxing atmosphere.
  • Choose pieces you’re not familiar with. Even instrumental music can be distracting. For example, piano covers of your favorite pop songs can encourage your brain to fill in the lyrics of the familiar melody.
  • Classical music isn’t your only option! Not a fan of orchestras or symphony bands? Try listening to nature sounds, video game soundtracks, or white noise. Just be sure to avoid music with quick tempos.

When selecting music consider whether you will be listening via headphones in a place with ambient noise or if you will listening on speakers in a quiet place.

Where to Find Music for Reading

If you’re not sure what to listen to, there are plenty of free playlists available on Spotify and other platforms. Look for playlists that feature peaceful instrumental pieces, here are a few options:

The playlists above were compiled by Christopher Galovan who curated the music to help listeners focus on the task at hand, whether that happens to be reading, studying, or working on other projects.


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