Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music To Read To

If you are like me, you can read a book almost anywhere, under almost any circumstance. I can read in the car, in the bath, in the living room with the tv on in the background, in a noisy sweaty gym while my kids are rolling around practicing Jiu Jitsu, even at a Yankees game in NYC (yup, that was me!).

But the one thing I cannot read around is music. I usually end up listening to the words and have to reread the same sentence over and over again before it sticks. I am not sure why my brain treats music differently than any other background noise, but there you have it.

I do find that certain types of instrumental music works, if I pair the pace and mood of the music to the pace and mood of the novel:

Zoe Keating - Contemporary instrumental cello music. Haunting, subtly powerful, unlike anything I have ever heard before. Her new self-released album Into the Trees is amazing. Click here to listen. Zoe creates every sound you hear herself, with the help of her trusty laptop.

Six Organs of Admittance - I just found out about these guys. Their music is part of the novel the I am currently reviewing for A Barnacle Book. The novel is "Empty the Sun" by Joseph Mattson, and the book came with a CD of instrumental guitar music from this band. It fits the mood of the novel very well, and caused me to seek out similar music (hence the inspiration for my post on music to read to!). You can sample their stuff here.

Jeff Ball - Contemporary Native American Flute music. I love this stuff. I always have. Many years ago I bought a CD from a group that was playing at a local fair, and was just blown away by the sound. Jeff's music incorporates other instruments, but the flute is the spotlight. It's soft, sexy, and smooth. Take a listen to it.

Beyond Six Strings - Instrumental Harp guitar music. Slow or upbeat, there is a mixture of both in this collection of different musicians. It gives you a sample of what is out there.

So there's a little taste of what is available out there for those of you who are like me... requiring some good music to read to -minus the vocals. Music that fades easily into the background yet also enhances your reading experience.

What do you listen to when you are reading? Classical? Contemporary? Danny Elfman movie soundtracks? Post links to them so we can all give them a shot!


  1. I am seriously the same. I can't read with music other than classical (because it's sans words)... or so I thought. I'm excited to check out these artists! PS - do you kind of feel like a celebrity since Neil Gaiman tweeted to you? Because I would if I were you :)

  2. Hi Brenna, Haha! No, I don't feel like a celebrity. I know Neil does his very best to keep in touch with all his fans. I was absolutely shocked that he got back to me as quickly as he did though! That was pretty amazing. Let me know what you think of these musicians. I am really digging Zoe and her cello.

  3. Nice. I have 4 younger brothers, who all have a ton of friends and a million cousins. I can read through anything, music or no if I want to read. If not, I can be distracted, but I'm pretty sure I could read through WWIII if I was interested enough in the story! :)

  4. The only time I ever listen to music while reading is when I'm on train and somebody nearby is yakking their head off. The best music I've found for that is Glenn Mercer's album Wheels In Motion - it has vocals, but they're low-key and the songs have a very uniform tone which helps me concentrate on the reading.

  5. Ashley, I hear ya! You must have the best selective hearing in the world, living with 4 younger brothers....

    Pete, I hadn't heard of him before, but any lyrics while I'm reading tend to distract me. My brain seriously tries to do both things at once and it's quite frustrating. Glad to hear you have music that works for you though :)