Although I love simply picking up a book and reading, I sometimes look for ways to make it even more interesting and insightful. One way I’ve found is occasionally listening to music while I read. Here are six reasons why you should try it too.
1. Pay better attention
Some studies rave about the positive effects of music on learning. Other studies suggest that music can distract from cognitive functions while still indicating that the effects of music may depend on the personality of the person, the volume, and the type of music. In my personal experience, I never felt hindered by listening to calm classical music while I studied in college.
Because I’m not Professor Xavier, I can’t handle two different trains of thought in my head simultaneously. I don’t understand much if I try to listen to the words of a song and read words on a page at the same time. Wordless music works best for me. Plus, I don’t blast the music; I keep it at almost a background noise level or maybe a little louder to where I can still hear the music.
2. Experience more culture
I am currently reading The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and I decided to listen to some Russian classical music simultaneously. It has added another level to my experience. Sometimes the crescendos motivated me to stop and think about the music, their culture and what I do know about Russian history, the words of the text, and the people in the story.
In a few months, I plan to read Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu for a book club, and I fully intend on listening to traditional Chinese music for at least a portion of my reading. We’ll see—I might have a stroke of brilliance!
3. Add more mystery
If you’re reading a mystery or spy novel, consider listening to something like one of the Jason Bourne soundtracks or the National Treasure soundtrack. That may sound dorky, but you feel excited during a movie in part because of the music. If the text doesn’t do it already, you’ll definitely think twice before trusting any character and be on edge for what comes next.
4. Stir in the mush
Slow, relaxing, more romantic (again, I recommend wordless) music can evoke additional emotion and imagination as you read. For example, I confess that I giggle gleefully while reading Pride and Prejudice and listening to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack (either the Colin Firth 1995 version or 2005 Kiera Knightley version). Prepare yourself and have a box of tissues handy—just in case.
5. Feel cool and easygoing
6. Relax and unwind
In college, as I mentioned earlier, I sometimes played classical orchestral or piano music in the background as I studied or wrote papers. If anything, it helped me relax, which is always a good thing when doing something less than pleasant.
The trick for me is choosing the right music for the right book and the right mood. Although the music doesn’t always match perfectly, when it does, it is pretty cool!
What do you like to listen to when you read?
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