Should You Listen To Music While Reading A Book?

Published: 25 September 2023
Written by Penny Somerset

Ever found yourself questioning if it's a wise move to tune into your favorite rhythm while you're engrossed in the adventures of your favorite book characters? If so, rest assured that it's not just you; this question has also floated around my mind more times than I can count.

Armed with some intriguing research findings and personal tales, this article aims to explore the benefits and drawbacks of weaving music into your reading ritual. Curious? Let's amplify our understanding on this topic!

An illustration of a woman reading while wearing headphones

Table of Contents

• Pros of Listening to Music While Reading
• Cons of Listening to Music While Reading
• What Kind of Music to Listen to While Reading
• Conclusion

Frequently Asked Questions
• Is it good to listen to music while reading a book?
• Can listening to music put me in a good mood for reading?
• Do I need to play songs in the same order while I'm reading?
• Can I listen to artists like Taylor Swift when I read?
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Key Takeaways

  • Listening to music while reading can help you relax and focus better, especially if it's instrumental or classical music.

  • Not all types of music are good for reading. Songs with lyrics or loud volumes might distract you from your book.

  • If the environment is noisy, headphones with soothing melodies can keep you engaged in your book.

  • Instrumental, classical, jazz and ambient music are great choices for reading. Each one offers a unique way to enhance your enjoyment of the book. So choose what suits you best!

Pros of Listening to Music While Reading

Listening to music while reading can enhance relaxation and enjoyment, providing a serene atmosphere that pulls you deeper into the book. It is believed to improve cognitive performance and focus, thus boosting your understanding of the text.

Also, in noisy environments, headphones plugged into soothing melodies could serve as a barrier against distractions, allowing you to stay engaged with your book.

Enhances relaxation and enjoyment

I've discovered a fascinating link between music and relaxation, especially in the context of reading. Research suggests that listening to your favorite tunes while flipping through pages can help lower blood pressure and ease muscle tension.

The right melodies act like an invisible charm, creating a calm atmosphere optimal for diving into stories or learning new concepts. A gentle classical orchestral piece or soothing instrumental music contributes significantly to this effect.

Tunes also boost mood and reduce stress, thereby enhancing the pleasure derived from each read word. It's true - my reading experience is taken to another level as I enjoy the harmonious blend of words laced with comforting symphonies.

Music does not merely serve as background noise; instead, it offers enhanced enjoyment by making my time with books feel more like an escape than a task. Reading becomes remarkably engaging and amusing - almost akin to stepping into a movie set or living out narratives on paper!

Improves cognitive performance and focus

Boosting cognitive performance and focus is one benefit of listening to music while reading a book. Studies reveal that the right type of music, such as instrumental or classical orchestral tunes, can enhance your concentration.

Even in noisy environments, with carefully selected background noise like soft piano music, your mind can stay locked onto what you're reading. The so-called 'Mozart effect' holds that this great composer's works may even raise IQ levels and fortify working memory! But it isn't about Mozart alone; just about any soothing melody could potentially get those mental juices flowing more freely.

This strategy won't work for everyone though - some people might find new songs or agitated music too distracting. So, go ahead and experiment to see if listening to relaxing music amplifies your own reading capabilities!

Helps block out distractions in noisy environments

Noise often acts as a disruption during reading. Imagine trying to focus on an intriguing novel with the loud chatter of people around you or the constant honk of cars outside your window.

This is where music comes in handy! Listening to music while reading can serve as a shield against these disturbances in noisy environments, enveloping you into your own space and enabling smoother concentration.

If chosen correctly, it merely stays in the background without interfering with your understanding of the book. So next time you find yourself amidst chaos and yet want to indulge in some quality reading time, put on those headphones and dive right into your imagination's world with a good book!

Cons of Listening to Music While Reading

Listening to music while reading isn't always beneficial. Vocal tracks may distract you, pulling your focus towards the lyrics rather than your book. Similarly, loud or agitated music can negatively affect your concentration instead of enhancing it.

Finding the right sound balance is crucial for a conducive reading atmosphere.

Vocal music can be distracting

Vocal music can be a major distraction while trying to immerse myself in a book. I find that the lyrics of songs often pull my focus away from the pages, and instead, have me paying attention to the words sung.

This interference with reading comprehension isn't just something I experience personally; research supports it too. The University of Phoenix found that music with lyrics tends to hamper memory tasks - not ideal when you're engrossed in an exciting new plot! This is why instrumental or classical orchestral music is often recommended as background noise during reading sessions: no distracting lyrics, just soothing sounds enhancing your cognitive performance and mood.

Loud music can be counterproductive

Blasting your favorite tunes might seem like a good idea while reading, but loud music can actually be counterproductive. High volumes tend to overstimulate the brain, causing you to lose focus and making it harder for you to concentrate on what you're reading.

Your cognitive performance might suffer as a result, negatively impacting your reading comprehension. Research suggests that this effect is heightened when the music has lyrics, as your brain struggles to process both the words of the song and those in your book simultaneously.

Moreover, extensive exposure to loud music endangers our hearing health. It's therefore advisable to opt for soft or moderate volume levels if you choose to listen to music while reading.

An illustration of a man reading while wearing headphones

What Kind of Music to Listen to While Reading

Choosing the right soundtrack for your reading session is crucial. Instrumental music trumps vocals, as lyrics could distract from the text. Classical music, with its complex structures and soothing melodies, can be a perfect match for a good book.

Jazz creates a relaxed background noise that complements rather than interrupts your reading flow. You might also consider ambient tracks - they furnish tranquil audio landscapes to lose yourself in while you're immersed in an engaging story.

Instrumental music

Instrumental music serves as an excellent choice while immersing yourself in a book. It lacks lyrics, eliminating the risk of words interfering with your reading comprehension. Many people find that the gentle notes of piano music or a classical orchestral piece help to enhance their focus.

Research suggests that instrumental rhythms can boost cognitive performance and transform your reading experience into an even more enjoyable one. Moreover, it blocks out agitating background noise from noisy environments - whether you're at home or in public places - allowing you to read relaxed and undisturbed.

The "Mozart Effect" theory supports this concept, claiming listeners' spatial-temporal skills improve after hearing his compositions. So next time you pick up a book, consider playing some instrumental tunes for an enhanced reading session.

Classical music

Classical music possesses distinct characteristics that make it an ideal companion for reading. The melodious rhythms and soothing notes promote a calm environment, which can enhance your reading experience significantly.

It's widely known for its ability to improve cognitive performance - a concept popularly referred to as the "Mozart effect." This genre isn't merely limited to Mozart; you've got a vast array of composers like Bach and others offering diverse classical orchestral arrangements.

These pieces often come without lyrics, so they serve as non-distracting background noise while sinking into a good book. You may find yourself absorbed deeper into the pages with classical music softly playing in the backdrop.

Just keep the volume moderate since loud music might disrupt your concentration instead of aiding it.


As a book enthusiast, I often explore different genres of music to accompany my reading. Jazz, with its distinctive swing and blue notes, offers an experience unlike any other. Its complex chords and improvisation elevate the reading atmosphere while the polyrhythms lull you into a state of enhanced focus.

Different styles provide varying experiences - from Trad Jazz to Fusion - each resonating uniquely with the reader's mind. Playing in the background, jazz serves as an effective tool to block out environmental noise without being overly intrusive on your cognitive performance.

Interesting fact: did you know that New Orleans is hailed as the birthplace of Dixieland jazz, one of jazz's earliest forms? The celebrated genre seems well equipped for various book adventures!

Ambient music

Ambient music, with its focus on tone and atmosphere, can enhance your reading experience in a unique way. Its lack of traditional musical structure helps create a soothing background noise that doesn't distract from the world you're diving into within the pages of your book.

This genre is explored by writer Jon Dale, whose work sheds light on why it resonates with readers. Videos offering ambient music soundtracks specifically for reading are also available online.

Some individuals share they find improved comprehension and focus when letting this gentle melody accompany their reading session. However, keep in mind that everyone's taste in music varies - what works for one might not work for another! So next time you pick up a book, try tuning into some ambient sounds to see if it makes any difference in your own cognitive performance while engrossed in an enthralling novel or thought-provoking nonfiction piece.


Packing up your book with some tunes can be a total game changer. It's about finding the right tempo that aligns with your literary rhythm. So, switch on some Mozart or lo-fi and delve into the world of words - it may enhance your reading journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it good to listen to music while reading a book?

Whether or not you should listen to music while reading a book depends on your personal preferences and how the music affects your reading performance.

Can listening to music put me in a good mood for reading?

Yes, certain types of music can indeed improve your mood and potentially enhance the experience of reading a book.

Do I need to play songs in the same order while I'm reading?

The order of songs is entirely up to you! You might find that some tracks complement certain books better than others.

Can I listen to artists like Taylor Swift when I read?

Absolutely! If listening to Taylor Swift or any other artist enhances your enjoyment and comprehension when you're reading, then go for it!

Portrait of the article author, Penny Somerset
Penny Somerset

I'm an avid reader and bibliophile. With an unquenchable thirst for stories, I love nothing more than burying my nose in a good book - whether it's curled up on the sofa or out in nature. My deep curiosity and appreciation of diverse writing means that there's no one genre that I prefer, but I'm especially keen on books full of adventure and vivid imagination.
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