The Marketeers Club: Do you listen to music while you read?

Tayler Lord is a publicist at UNP and has somehow only watched Hocus Pocus once this Halloween season. 

The other day someone asked me if I listen to music while I read. I was a little surprised by the question because it had never occurred to me that people don’t listen to music while they read. After a bit of (shallow) soul searching and self-reflection, I realized that I am hardly ever without some kind of noise. I always have music on while I get ready for work (currently playing Solange’s A Seat at the Table every morning), listen to podcasts all day at my desk (My Favorite Murder is my favorite and everyone around me is sick of hearing about it), and play different television shows while making dinner (usually reruns of Bob’s Burgers or The Office). I’m rarely surrounded by silence.

So, in short, my answer to the initial question is yes. I always listen to music while I read. I like to get specific about my music, too. For example, right now I’m reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a book that takes place before and during the Nigerian Civil War. The popular music style at the time was called “highlife,” and one of the best known Nigerian highlife musicians was Rex Lawson. So, I’ve been listening to a lot of Rex Lawson and other highlife artists while reading. It helps me understand the book better and helps drown out the rest of the world so I can get lost in the book the way I like to think the author intended. The characters’ experiences are so beyond me—I can’t imagine the quick descent into poverty and starvation brought on by war, though I know it was and continues to be a very real truth for many people. But it helps to listen to what they might have listened to; it’s a very sensual thing that helps me situate the book. I can’t see the war torn Biafran villages firsthand or taste the garri and rice but I can hear the same music they might have listened to.

I’m learning that not everybody chooses to experience music and reading this way, so I’ve taken the liberty of offering a few musical pairings to go with some of our new releases. Fire up the iTunes or record player or whatever mode of listening you prefer and get lost in a world outside of yourself, if only for a little while.


Le Football: A History of American Football in France by Russ Crawford

Essential French artists Jacques Brel, Édith Piaf, and Françoise Hardy are a magnifique match for a book about American football in France.


Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online by Bailey Poland

Haters will probably make you furious about the horrors of violence towards women online, so feminist artists like Sleater-Kinney and Ani DiFranco might help bring out your inner riot girl while you learn how to combat cybersexism.


Fight for Old DC: George Preston Marshall, the Integration of the Washington Redskins, and the Rise of a New NFL by Andrew O’Toole

For a book about integration in football, I would listen to some of the most influential black musicians from the mid-twentieth century like Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin.


Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico edited by Benjamin Klein

Follow the hippie vibes in this book of photos and essays on 1960s counterculture with some folk-rock artists like Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan.


Olympic Collision: The Story of Mary Decker and Zola Budd by Kyle Keiderling

Olympic Collision takes place during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and Rolling Stone once called 1984 “Pop’s Greatest Year.” So throw on the music of pop icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and Prince, and dance your way through Mary Decker and Zola Budd’s story.

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