The sister blog post, “How to Enhance Your Writing Experience with Soundscapes,” can be found on Writer’s Atelier.
What does your perfect reading experience look like? Maybe you picture yourself curled up on the couch or reading in the great outdoors. Maybe you don’t care where you are as long as you have something warm to drink. Maybe you’ve always been able to read any time, any place, under any conditions. (Lucky!)
But what if I told you there was a way to truly immerse yourself in the book you’re reading like you never have before?
You can do just that with soundscapes.
What are soundscapes?
Whether you’ve heard the term before or not, you know what it is. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at a beach. You would hear the roar of the ocean, the giggles of children running into the surf, and seagulls cawing overhead if you were there now, wouldn’t you? That’s the soundscape.
You might already listen to music while you read. I usually do. I preferred instrumental music—usually jazz—from the same time period I was reading or writing in to help me get into the mood. That is, until I discovered the magic of soundscapes.
How does a soundscape enhance the reading experience?
If you’re anything like me, you won’t need convincing beyond merely being told that soundscapes exist. When I found the “Atlantis Underwater” soundscape while writing The Price of Magic, I wondered why I hadn’t been using story-specific soundscapes for my entire reading and writing life!
But if you do need some convincing . . .
It gets you in the mood.
Okay, yeah, you can read about a café in Paris, and it can be the most beautiful prose ever crafted. If it is, that prose can and will transport you right to that café. You might become so consumed that you miss when someone calls your name.
But just like eating a fluffy croissant and sipping café au lait can take you just a little bit more of the way to Paris, so too can listening to glasses and silverware clatter, conversations in French, and “La Vie en Rose” softly playing. You’ll hear Paris as easily as you can picture it.
It blocks out sounds from others.
Unless you’re living alone in the middle of nowhere, you have noise you need to block out. Pets, parents, children, spouses—you live with other beings, and occasionally, they will annoy you.
These soundscapes have a variety of things going on at once—from the babble of a brook to the clinking of coins to the roar of a rainstorm—which makes it easy for noises you couldn’t ignore before to fade into the background.
It’ll help you process what you’re reading.
Listening to background noises can improve abstract processing, which is an essential skill for thinking about and picturing what’s happening while you read. If you add music to the soundscapes like I sometimes do, you can get all of its benefits, too: better reading comprehension, better concentration, and an improved mood.
Where can I find soundscapes?
Once you’ve started looking into ambient noise players, you’ll find there are tons of them on the Internet, and I’m not just talking about YouTube! The list below has just a few players that I happen to like, and that are also free.
- Ambient-Mixer is my first love. It has the most flexibility in terms of mixing your own soundscape. They have an app available on the Apple and Google Play app stores.
- MyNoise is a distant second with dozens of soundscapes, but not nearly the same amount of flexibility without becoming a patron. You can also find it on the Apple and Google Play app stores. Fun Fact: the creator uses the Patreon money to offset the site’s carbon footprint!
- Pluvioniverse only offers nature sounds, but it gives you the ability to open YouTube videos and layer that sound in the same tab. Great for when you already have fifty tabs open. (It’s okay, I do, too!)
Are you subscribed to my newsletter? Then you have new reader treats waiting for you—two soundscapes!
I’ve made a mix for In Barcelona With You, I’ll be adding it to the book’s front matter soon, and making a soundscape for In Buffalo With You is on my to do list. I’ll do the same for all of my books (at least the ones written under my given name) from now on. I’m so excited to mix my own “soundtrack” for my books, and then share them with you!
You can find a link to that soundscape here. Just enter the password you were given in my first newsletter to you to gain access. Can’t find your password? Contact me using the same email with which you subscribed to my newsletter, and we’ll get it sorted out.