January 18th 2019
Today I discovered that listening to classical piano music while I read hugely improves my ability to concentrate. By way of example, I picked up Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 about 4 hours ago and to write this blog is the first time I’ve put the book down since, really.
Because I aimed to read in the living room, where my parents were watching whatever on TV, I needed to drown out the background noise. My recent go-to for that has been piano music. I’ve always been the type to listen to music while I read, for the exact reason described: to drown out the background, but previously my soundtrack has always been either electronic or techno music. So more high tempo.
Recently, I’ve switched to piano music. To have a playlist accompany a reading session, the songs must be wordless and melodic, without being catchy. I don’t want to think about what I’m hearing, because my focus needs to be on what I am reading. But listening to music with stereo, noise-cancelling headphones means that I can further immerse myself in the book.
Because I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 I did initially try to listen to a backing track of fireplace sounds, because that seemed to match the spirit of the book. (In the book, books themselves are illegal, and firemen are dispatched to burn them, and often their readers. 451 is the temperature at which books burn.) However, the crackling was too formulaic and repetitive, which only distracted me.
Piano sounds, however, work perfectly. And I’ve been reading uninterrupted for hours.
Of course, it helps that the book is fantastic. The backing track could not make me focus on just any book, it just so happens that this book is very, very good. It’s one that has been in my cupboard for years, since the Christmas where I asked for “the classics” in a bid to educate myself by reading things I “should have read” rather than particularly “want to read”.
I finally got around to reading it today, and I’m glad I did. I only have fifty or so pages left. I’ll have finished it before I go to bed and I started it just after dinner this evening. It’s been a few months since I read a book in one sitting.
It’s apt that it’s this book, where books are illegal, that I’m reading in one shot. It’s like I’m hurrying to finish it before the firemen come to take it away from me, and reduce it to dust and ash.
Until tomorrow, I better finish it before it burns.