Essentials

Why you need a reading playlist and my top recommendations

I’ll read books. And I’ll drink coffee. And I’ll listen to music. And I’ll bolt the door.

J.D Salinger

​I struggle to read in silence. I don’t know if it was growing up in a busy house or years of reading on commutes but I need audio goodness of some kind. It can’t be normal music though. There is a very specific “reading” music I need.

IMO, reading is better with music and I am not alone in promoting its benefits. A study completed at Stanford found music engages areas of the brain involved with attention, making predictions and updating events- all beneficial whilst reading a book, I would say. 

So! Before I share my favourite playlists for reading, I wanted to tell you the criteria for them:

​1. Minimal lyrics: I find it much easier to focus on the book I am reading and still enjoy the tunes when it is mostly instrumental. 

​2. The playlists are long: This is so they don’t become repetitive.

​3. They are not playlists I usually listen to: Much like red wine and fish, I like to keep my regular tunes and my reading tunes separate. I have specific reading playlists that I only listen to when I am reading. It keeps ’em special. 

I would love to know what you listen to when you’re reading! Maybe it’s the sound of your husband loudly playing Playstation in the lounge room, with intermittent guffaws of defeat. (Note: That is purely hypothetical and definitely not what is happening in my house as I type). Or maybe you’re someone who needs to read in silence? Let me know!


One: Fantasy Reading Music – RougeBasier

This playlist is my go to. Always.  And not just because Fantasy is my favourite genre- this playlist gives a mix of game and movie/TV soundtracks (such as The Vikings, Braveheart and The Tutors) to set the background for your next reading session. The pace of music differs but overall I think you could read a lot of genres whilst listening and not be disappointed. It has over 20 hours of play time as well, so you can press play and nestle in! 

Would recommend for: Fantasy, young adult and adult. Most recently I listened to this whilst reading The Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and it was superb. 


Two: Studio Ghibli Lowfi – Ouress

Ok, so this one is a little niche. 

I love Studio Ghibli’s soundtracks. I think Joe Hisaishi is a genius and Howl’s Moving Castle is a work of art. 

This one includes some songs with lyrics but it is so subtle. The playlist is just under three hours long so you can press play and enjoy. 

Would recommend for: Anything whimsical, fantastical or pretty. A great choice for a chilled Sunday afternoon. 


Three: The Little Women Soundtrack – Alexandre Desplat

Delicate and light. 

That is how I would best sum up this playlist. ​It’s a little shorter but it’s enjoyable and purely instrumental. The pace is pretty consistent so if you are just looking for some breezy background tunes this is the playlist for you! It’s a playlist you can play whilst reading (almost) anything- provided it’s not too dark.  ​

Would recmmend for: Romance. 100% It is also definitely my go to for classics like Pride and Prejudice or.. Little Women even?(Hah!). I also recently listened to it whilst reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Weatherman and it matched really well! 


Four: TmSoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds – TMSOFT

This sounds like a weird inclusion but sometimes I just need some sounds like “Quiet Tokyo street and crickets” or “Rain and Thunder inside a barn,” ya know? 

This is a great playlist if you don’t want music but you like a little noise. There is some vibe killing intro talking at the start of each track. I usually fast forward 1 minute in and it is over. This isn’t that big of a deal seeing as most of the tracks go for an hour minimum. 

Would recommend for: Literally anything. This is why it’s in my top playlists because it gives the best versatile background noise. There is even a track titled “Sailing on a tall ship for 1 hour.” You can just feel the pirate vibes. 


Five: The Outlander Soundtrack 1-3 – Kate Macauley

I will confess that Outlander is one of my favourite book series AND TV adaptations. But the soundtrack is so ideal for book reading.

Kate has combined the first three season’s soundtracks into one great playlist. It is just over 3 hours long and is almost completely instrumental. Think Scottish countrysides and adventure.

The songs from season 2 all have a very French Court feel and were perfect for reading Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.


Let me know your go to reading playlists, I am always on the hunt for new ones!

Feature photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash

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