New Books, New Songs

In my opinion, being a graduate student is an eternal journey to find the most comfortable place for reading books. Music is important, not only for aesthetic reasons but to keep myself reading. Over the last few days, all I did is ordering books for the new semester and buying new songs specifically for reading background. When I started a phd in political science three years ago, it was a bunch of post-rock (?) bands (Explosion in the Sky, Mogwai, etc) and classical music that let me survive the first year. I tried various kinds of music for the reading purpose since then, but it seems I am settling down with very quiet ‘ambient’ (whatever it means) like Brian Eno and Sigur Ros, and a bit more electronic pop kind of music including Broadcast, Stereolab, Air, etc. I downloaded new albums so it feels like I am fully loaded for this semester.

I wonder what other people listen to when they read.

Category(s): My Grad School Life

4 Responses to New Books, New Songs

  1. Hi, I have been reading your blog for a while and dropping a line today for I finally found someone raising the very fundammental question and became too itchy to let go of it unnoticed.

    To answer the question, I just can’t read when music is on: I used to be less flexible regarding this rule, and could not read almost anything. So you can imagine how inconvenient it could be because in a place like, say, Starbucks, it is almost impossible to ask for ‘non-music’ environment. So I guess I ended up up accomodating along with what the reality is around me. Now I’d say I can read more than I used to, especially those that take less attention or texts written in more mechanical fashions. For the same token, I hardly read on in an adequate pace when it comes to ‘literature’ and ‘philosophy’ genre, which are obviously incorporated in less predictable manners. But the worst of all that I discovered to read under ‘musical environment’ is music scores. I almost never get to read scores when any music is around. Doesn’t that explain what goes on when a human brain tries to process the written info and re-create the sound of it usuing one’s physical system? In that sense, reading is the same experience whether it is a a text and or a score. The other day, I heard that a majority of dyslexia is the case that occurs or persists when he/she does not know how words sound in the first place, so the person has the problem with how to recreate the sound in his perception. Therefore, they would not get to process the information. And music scores was the ultimate form of recording the accoustic infomation. It is probably the scetchiest, too, because the huge part of its function is dependent upon others’ physical function of ‘interpreting and recreating the sound.’It is all the more similar to mathmatics as people often say.

    Good luck with your new semester and lots of fun reading!

  2. Hi. Thanks for your comments.
    It is interesting. I also used to read, or study at all, only in no-music, no-sound space. I still cannot read with music that has vocal lyrics (especially in the languages I speak). But I often need music in the background BECAUSE it distracts me from thinking about something else or being bogged down in small details in books. I guess it is a way to make me ‘look at’ the readings at a consistent speed, not to have really deep thoughts on them.

  3. It’s sad that we have to avoid thinking too deeply about what we read, but I know exactly what you are talking about.

  4. I know! We are like…. machines.

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