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If you’re like me, you’re one of those special weirdos who can read a book and listen to music as the same time. Having music playing in the background of life relieves stress and can actually help people who have busier minds stay focused. For people who enjoy reading but sometimes can’t stay focused, playing quiet, non-distracting music can help you stay in your story while still creating a great ambiance for literary relaxation.
Here is my go-to reading playlist for those days when I just want to hide away inside of a world that isn’t this one!
1. “Field” by Keaton Henson and Ren Ford
We are starting this playlist out with a nice instrumental piece from Keaton Henson’s album Romantic Works, which is a series of instrumental compositions featuring violinist, Ren Ford. It’s soothing and easy to listen to. There are even birds chirping in the background of the piano and violin mix. Birds.
2. “Northern Wind” by City and Colour
I spelled “colour” with a “u” because Dallas Green is Canadian! And Canadians do things differently than Americans!
3. “We’re Going to Be Friends” by The White Stripes
Note that this is not the Jack Johnson version. That is a cover of The White Stripes song. It is their song, not his! (Both versions are good; however, this playlist has the White Stripes’.)
4. “5 AM” by Amber Run
This song kind of reminds me of what it feels like to be driving around between the hours of 3 AM and 4:30 AM (which makes the lyric “but it’s nearly 5 AM,” cue title). Late night, orange-colored street lights, no one is around. If you are a fan of sleep mixes, this song would be a good addition.
5. “Do You Love Me Still?” by The Kooks
This is the first break in the gentle indie theme that has opened this playlist. I have included this song by The Kooks to intentionally jar the tone. The shift isn’t too strange but it’s just different enough from most of the songs on this playlist that it won’t blend in with them. The biggest concern when making a "reading/study/“chill” playlist is that makers tend to pick songs that all sound the same. This causes the music to blur together and can lead to you, the listener, just blazing through the mix and coming out of it with no memory of what you just listened to.
6. “This Side of Paradise” by Coyote Theory
Coyote Theory’s “This Side of Paradise” acts as a transitional piece between The Kooks’ soft punk song and The Lumineers, a staple band of indie folk. It doesn’t lean too close to the Kooks’ or Lumineers’ style, resting in a lovely middle area.
7. “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” by The Lumineers
We have reached our first official cover! Yes. This song is a cover. I didn’t know this for the longest time until I heard the actual version—by the Talking Heads—playing at Walmart. The Lumineers’ cover is great, though, done in their style with guitar as the focus. I added this song to the playlist to read to because it really sounds like something that should be playing in a Barnes and Noble. There, I said it.
8. “Honeybee” by Steam Powered Giraffe
If you have a Tumblr, you might’ve heard of this band at some point. This is a charming love song featuring quirky lyrics and three-part harmony.
9. “Dear Believer” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
One of my favorite songs on the playlist, “Dear Believer” is the musical form of a hug. It’s a soft, gentle song about positivity and BELIEVING that everything will be okay, even if no one else thinks it will.
10. “Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine
Here we have another cover! Originally by The Postal Service, Iron and Wine’s take on the song adds a neat lullaby-esque quality to the techno-pop piece.
11. “Same Drugs” by Chance the Rapper
Too much indie? You thought! Chance the Rapper’s song adds some of his cool Gospel Rap (it’s a thing) to this mostly indie, partially other mix! The song is calm enough to read to while still keeping you on your toes.
12. “Helplessly” by Tatiana Manaois
This exclusively acoustic love song is perfect for a quiet reading session because I said so.
13. “Repeat” by Young the Giant
Do not let this FOURTH tonal shift shock you. We will get back on track with the smooth jams momentarily. Young the Giant’s song on repeat is fun and can cue a snack break if needed.
14. “fOoL fOr YoU” by ZAYN
I hate myself for typing it like that but that’s how he wrote it and as a “since day one” One Direction fan, I must respect his wishes. I added this silly spelt song because of its neat piano intro that carries through the verses. The song may lean towards pop but fear not! This song is the final diversion from the indie folk theme that this playlist is based on.
15. “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra featuring Patrick Watson
Here is the moment where you take a break from your reading to cry.
16. “Wake Me Up” by Ed Sheeran
Like any 8tracks playlist, you need an Ed Sheeran song at some point. (The joke is this playlist can be found on Spotify.)
17. “Bright & Early” by Sleeping at Last
Different from Sleeping at Last’s cinematically orchestra (see what I did there) albums, “Bright & Early” comes from his 2011 album Yearbook. This song is completely different from the music that Sleeping at Last makes now, but the song is still good with its positive tone and upbeat lyrics.
18. “Ten Thousand Words” by The Avett Brothers
Every playlist needs an Avett Brothers song. Every playlist. If you decided to make a playlist and it doesn’t have an Avett Brothers song on it, a) what is wrong with you and b) go add an Avett Brothers song to your playlist!
19. “Mad Sounds” by the Arctic Monkeys
This song, while—like the Zayn Malik song—a little different from the rest of this indie packed playlist, still vibes with the cool, easy tone of this reading playlist.
20. “Green Eyes” by Coldplay
21. “Bookends” by Adam Agin
A reading playlist obviously needs a book themed song.
22. “When You’re Gone” by Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s
As we wrap up this playlist, we are slowing things down with MTNS&S’s (yes, I just did that) “When You’re Gone.” It’s calm. It’s slow. It’s easy on the ears. This song keeps with THE THEME! But overall, it is nice to read to!
23. “The Loneliness Waltz” by The Ballroom Thieves
And now we reach the end of this playlist, rounding off these gentle reading tunes with The Ballroom Thieves indie folk song, “The Loneliness Waltz.” I have finished this playlist with this song in particular because when I make my playlists, I kind of like them to blend together and almost tell a story. See what I did there? A reading playlist that tells a story? Get it? Anyways, this song feelings like an unspoken “the end,” similar to the comfortable exhale of finishing a good book.
If this playlist suits your fancy, you can find it on Spotify under the name “Two Good Tables.”
Happy reading and enjoy your listening experience!