Music affects on a visceral level. Sometimes, all it takes is a few notes of a song to be shaken to your emotional core, or struck by a long-lost memory. Of course, a reading book can have a profound effect, as well–albeit less immediately, perhaps. It may take several hours to read through a book, but that story can take a reader on an emotional roller coaster to rival many live-altering events. That’s why it’s rather natural to perceive a relationship between the two, whether or not it’s immediately obvious.
Some authors make the connection crystal clear for readers, supplying a list of songs that were playing whilst writing a certain story, or perhaps songs that inspired a later idea for a story. Some simply have to have music playing in the background when creating the threads of their characters and literary universes.
Such information, from authors, may make certain connections between music and reading seem like an objective matter (I mean, to hear that an author was inspired by a Madonna song to write a specific scene will likewise make me associate the two). But in the absence of such markers, what kind of a relationship would a reader make between music and books? Is it as simple as hearing a song while reading a passage? Is it the emotion evoked by a song that underscores a similar emotion in a story?
Though I can’t always fully concentrate on a book when listening to music, sometimes it feels…right. I must admit that I think of Richard (from the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series) often when I listen to certain Nine Inch Nails songs (if you want the playlist, lemme know ^_^). Had read the Twilight books to Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony (almost 30 times in its entirety, according to iTunes). And Ranma 1/2 graphic novel No. 5 and a particular remix of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” have been inextricably (and inexplicably) tied for me ever since one random, unremarkable day over ten years ago. Often these things occur by happenstance, and sometimes the connections are contextual (as with Richard and Nine Inch Nails). But it is lasting when it does happen.
I’m really, really curious about your thoughts, as music is not often the first thing to be brought up when talking about reading books.
So tell me: do you ever listen to music while reading? Do you take note of authors’ musical playlists when you read a certain story? Have you come to associate certain songs and albums with specific characters or stories? Does the music you listen to influence what you want to read, or vice versa?
(For the record, I’m listening to N.E.R.D. as I write this. Are you listening to something as you read this? ^_^)