Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

July 4

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[TSS] To Read in Silence, or Not…

by Ann-Katrina

(Before I start this week’s Sunday Salon, I want to wish all my U.S. readers a happy 4th of July…may your barbeque be extra delicious and your fireworks extra sparkly!)

Sunday Salon This is something I’ve been curious about for a while, but never actually gotten around to discussing.

At the end of a book I was reading, the author had published a playlist.

Interesting, I thought, but wouldn’t the music distract from the reading experience?

Of course, this thought process comes from my own desire to read in silence or with light (usually classical) music since lyrics tend to distract me.

Then I realized it’s probably because I imagine how each of the  words sound as I read (aka subvocalize). This gives me a feel for the rhythm and flow and tone of the prose. Listening to music, especially if there are lyrics, interferes with that. It’s like listening to two sometimes incongruent songs at the same time.

Now writing is a different story. While I sometimes prefer to write in silence, I almost always require music while editing or rewriting. A particular song can even inspire an entire scene. In that vein, I can certainly see the usefulness in a playlist.

But it still comes back to the original question…as a reader, how inclined are you to listen to music (or the author’s designated playlist) while reading a book?

Comments on [TSS] To Read in Silence, or Not…

  1. # sherry wrote on July 4, 2010 at 9:29 am:

    I prefer no lyrical music, especially while writing. I can’t find the words with the lyrics interfering with my thought process.
    Instrumental music is OK, but I’m not really listening when I’m reading or writing. So why?
    .-= sherry´s last blog ..Sunday Salon- Books Read in June- 2010 =-.

  2. # Lorielle wrote on July 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm:

    I don’t listen to music of any type when I read or write. Usually, I read in bed. :)
    .-= Lorielle´s last blog ..Book Review- The Devouring =-.

  3. # Ann-Kat wrote on July 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm:

    Interesting…interesting. It’s nice to see I’m not alone in this. At first, I believed I was just a crazy cat lady since so many authors were coming out with playlists to go along with their books. In a sense, it’s cool to listen to after reading, but certainly not during.

    Sherry, I typically prefer to write without music, but instrumental music is nice for setting a mood. It’s hard to describe, but when I listen to a particular piece of (usually classical) music, I can see an entire scene unfold before my eyes, my body feels to tension and release of each crescendo and decrescendo, and I’m swept up in it and it pushes me forward as I read through my story jotting quick notes for editing/revision. Of course, I tend to select music that best suites the story in question, though.

    Come to think of it, I believe certain music could also heighten the reading of a story, as in the case of music while editing–but in that case, I already know the story and where the peaks and valleys are. But for an unfamiliar book, I wouldn’t know which music to select to compliment the ebb and flow of a first read story. (And I tend not to trust the playlists because the songs typically contain lyrics.) If that makes any sense at all.

    Lorielle, I like to read in bed too. :D

  4. # Ariel/Sycorax Pine wrote on July 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm:

    Unless I am already totally, addictedly engrossed in a book (in which case the house could probably fall down around my ears without much of a reaction), I can’t read if there is any background noise at all. I guess I am just easily distracted! For someone who reads for a living, I have a remarkably short and fragile attention span for the act itself.
    .-= Ariel/Sycorax Pine´s last blog ..Continuing Adventures with the Honored Ancestors =-.

  5. # Ann-Kat wrote on July 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm:

    Ariel, you certainly aren’t alone in that regard. I also have a fragile attention span when it comes to reading and I can’t read for more than an hour in a single sitting (unless, as you say, the book is totally engrossing)–I must get up and stretch and let my brain wander for a few minutes before returning to my read. I often fantasize that most people are like that. :)

    Random sidebar: The image of someone being so engrossed in a book that the house could fall down around them reminded me of a scene from the Gilmore Girls where Dean compliments Rory on her ability to read through anything.

  6. # Alita wrote on July 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm:

    I seem to be in the minority here – I love listening to music when I read! It’s not always a conscious decision, I listen to music quite continuously throughout the day, not matter what I’m doing, so it just happens to be on when I’m reading. Often it’s just background noise, but I love when a lyric or melody pops up that complements what I’m reading.

    Sometimes, when I’m listening to music while doing something else, a song will come on that reminds me of a book I’m currently reading. Then I’ll go back and listen to that song while reading. I love when music and books come together :)
    .-= Alita´s last blog ..Monday Round Up 071210 =-.

  7. # Ann-Kat wrote on July 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm:

    I know what you mean, Alita, when that perfect song starts playing and it puts you in just the right mood. Although I don’t go out of my way to listen to music while reading, I can certainly appreciate the connection. :D

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