Ok, maybe not EACH genre, but let’s cover the basics here. Are you ever reading and find that the silence is not so silent? That the ambient noise of ACs, refrigerators, traffic, excitable neighbors, is all ringing in your ears and actually causing distraction?
Ever reading and find that the story is so sensory, you just want more? The book is about England, so you make a cup of tea: cool, taste and smell achieved. You wrap up in a tartan blanket: sight and touch achieved. But it’s still not enough?
These two problems are fixed the same way–through music. Music can enhance your reading experience. The way your brain processes music is complex and fascinating.
So, here are some ideas of what you should listen to when you read certain genres of literature.
1. Literary Fiction
Literary fiction, both classic and modern, has a certain elegance to it: a simplicity that belies an intense depth. Pair this kind of writing with a similar kind of music, the music of master minimalists Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt.
There’s a ridiculous amount of whimsical music out there that would create a perfect ambiance for fantasy reading. To show this spectrum, here are two very contrasting examples. Reading something atmospheric and full of wonderment? Benjamin Britten is your guy. Arrived at that part where the armies are rising, the spell is doing it’s work, or the dragons are hatching? Richard Wagner has a tune for that.
Non-fiction has a degree of serenity: the past has happened, Google exists, there are not a lot of surprises to be had in these stories. Reading non-fiction is very much about the journey, not the final revelation.
The music of Claude Debussy and Gabriel Faure offer a meaningful, but measured backdrop to true stories.
Reading comedy, you want something light and laid-back, but also a little cheeky. Head to Lami Jeon’s YouTube channel for playlists of just this kind of music: ukulele jazz and pop!
So here’s where it gets fun. Thus far, you’ve been reading books set to music that you might listen to anyway, while you’re cooking, driving, etc. It’s just been tailored very specifically for these genres, purely to set ambiance.
However, music for mystery reading will feel very different, as it will be more like a soundtrack: so be prepared for the creepiness levels to rise while you read as the music of Bela Bartok contributes edginess and suspense.
6. Drama And Melodrama
Reading dramas and melodramas should not be a silent, solitary endeavor. Set the stage! Mood lighting; rainy night; downtrodden faces; passionate eyes. Read aloud with much jumping to one’s feet and shaking of one’s fist at the heavens. And set it all to these composers who felt deeply and let us all in on it: Antonin Dvorak, Gustav Mahler and Samuel Barber. Some of the most heartfelt music of all time, right there.
For autobiographies, the most personal a publication can get, let’s go to Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Subtle and intimate, these composers set a nice atmosphere for when you are basically reading someone’s diary.
8. Science Fiction
Intergalactic battles! Aliens and cyborgs! Inventions that boggle the imagination! Wonders and mysteries of the universe that only the most daring adventurers discover and decipher! It’s science fiction! Classic go-to background music for science fiction: Gustav Holst. For early cuts of Star Wars, George Lucas played this music so that the composer, John Williams, could get an idea of what to aim for when he began writing the soundtrack. Thus was birthed one of the most recognizable movie scores of all time. Thanks, Holst.
For more mysterious, cosmic Sci-Fi, go with this amazing piece of magic by Caroline Lizotte.
9. Young Adult
What are the kids listening to these days? What are the kids reading these days? Seems like a nice mix of Sarah Dessen and John Green, with a fair amount of Veronica Roth. Trendy, cool, intelligent, and imaginative, but also hip. Honest books with an air of confidence and flippancy that some recent generations missed somehow and can only watch the youngsters revel in. Let’s go with Barry Louis Polisar and some classic Regina Spektor.
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to while reading?
YouTube Channel: Julia Sapphire
Featured image via Flat-Out Events