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A Collection of Music to Listen to While Reading

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Dana Lee

Staff Writer

Dana lives in East Haven, CT. She works for that Ivy League institution down the street and tries to read as many books as possible in her free time. Audiobooks and print books get equal love. Also, she unapologetically judges books by their covers and makes way too many playlists (c'mon, books need a soundtrack too!). Follow her on Twitter @lucyhenley115 .

This is my moment; this is literally all I do: I make playlists. I make playlists for everything, and although you will most definitely find me listening to the latest Springsteen album or drifting away with the rest of the population to Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore, I’m mostly on the lookout for music to listen to while reading. For me that’s music that fits the book I’m reading and doesn’t jolt me out of my book bubble. I’ve prepared a list of mixes, albums, and soundtracks to help you find the perfect music for your reading. Most of the mixes and albums in this collection are from Spotify and 8tracks*, but you can also find great music to listen to while reading on YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or whatever app/service/site you use for listening.

*8tracks is an amazing site and app with user-curated playlists, but it is only available in the U.S. right now.

Music to Listen to While Reading: Soundtracks and Original Scores

Soundtracks are a great place to start if you’re trying to set a book mood. I’m always paying attention to the composer credits in my favorite shows and movies so I can look them up later. Included below are film and TV scores from science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, Studio Ghibli, and period dramas from a few different eras.

Music to Listen to While Reading: By Musical Genre

If you’re looking up mixes by genre, some of my go-to search terms are: chillhop, beats, instrumental hip-hop, synthwave, post-rock, modern classical, lo-fi, bedroom pop, and ambient. Below I’ve dropped links to mellow beats, jazz, electro folklore, and coffeehouse.

Music to Listen to While Reading: Book Fanmixes

Where there’s fandom, you can always find fanmixes and books are no exception. When I finish a book I love, I enjoy spending my time finding the instrumental genre and tracks that perfectly fit with the story, so several of these mixes are mine (I mean the way the This Is How You Lose the Time War playlist below is my actual child). 8tracks is great for finding this type of mix, because you can search multiple tags at once and also because it’s an emo fandom wonderland. You can also check out author mixes. Lin-Manuel Miranda has a mix he made for writers and writing called “Write Your Way Out,” and on Book Riot: 7 Playlists That Inspired Your Favorite YA Books.

Music to Listen to While Reading: By Instrument

I don’t know about you, but for me some books just vibe with one instrument. You might be reading some dramatic fantasy that calls for epic strings or a cozy contemporary fiction that needs to be read with a soft piano playing in the background. I’ve dropped instrumental goodness below for piano, cello, guitar, and saxophone.

Music to Listen to While Reading: Covers

Cover songs are also a sweet choice for music to listen to while reading. They’re familiar, but different enough that you’re not stopping to belt out your favorite line in the middle of a reading session. I like to go with instrumental or super chill indie covers.

Music to Listen to While Reading: By Mood

Your mood is probably dictating your reading choices to you, but you can also match that with some good background reading music. My picks below are swinging wildly from vengeance to bliss to madness, but that’s just me.

Music to Listen to While Reading: My Latest Instrumental Mixes

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m obsessed with making playlists. You can find me over on my beloved 8tracks making instrumental mixes by mood, genre, instrument, and lots of other nerdy search parameters. You can also find me here on Spotify. I hope you’ll share your favorite reading mixes and book/music pairings with me!