Bookish Musings: Why I Love Book Playlists


So, in case you didn’t get this from the post title, I love book playlists. You know, playlists of songs that authors or readers create that are either inspired by the book or go with the book. I even make them myself sometimes (though, admittedly, I haven’t made any for a while).

And because I love them so much (also because I’ve been listening to one in particular a lot lately), I thought it’d make a quick but fun post to talk about why I love them and see what you all think of them!

Book Playlists Set the Mood While Reading

I’m someone who likes listening to music because, for me, the right music can really enhance a book reading experience by setting the mood and pulling me deeper into the emotions and general feeling of the book or even of a specific scene. So if there are already author-made or fan-made playlists out there, that’s fantastic because I can just listen to those instead of having to hunt down random playlists or YouTube videos that I think might fit the book. Author-made playlists can be the best sometimes because those are often the songs that the author used to get in the right mindset to write the book.

Book Playlists Remind Me of the Books

Even after I’ve finished a book, I like listening to book playlists because, if the songs are chosen well, I can feel those connections they have to the book, and they remind me of the book. And if it’s a book I like, being reminded of it makes me happy!

Book Playlists Make Me Feel

I think the books that go with music the best are the emotional ones. Emotional books means emotional songs. And once I start associating a certain playlist with certain songs to a certain book, it becomes this kind of Pavlovian response, I become conditioned to start feeling whatever emotion that book evoked any time I listen to the playlist. And I like feeling emotion. It can be inspirational, motivational, cathartic, or just plain enjoyable, depending on the emotion.

Music is Awesome

This isn’t exactly specific to book playlists, but music is probably the most widely enjoyed thing in the world. So it’s just nice having music to listen to period 🙂


Talk to me!

Do you like book playlists?
Do you listen to them while reading, after reading, or both?
Do you ever make your own?


Your Thoughts


53 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Why I Love Book Playlists

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  1. Laura

    I have never actually tried book playlists, or listening to music when reading, so I may have to give it a go! I recently tried writing with music on, which is something I hadn’t tried before (I really don’t know why I insist on doing everything in silence!), and it really helped get me in the mood for the scenes I was writing, so I imagine it does a similar thing when reading.
    Awesome post! 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      You should try it, you might find you like it! I’ve always had a harder time concentrating in silence, for the most things, because then my own thoughts get louder and distract me. But yeah, music can definitely enhance a mood. Thanks 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      I just read your post, and using movie soundtracks for longer pieces is a great idea! I’m gonna check out that cinemix site. And that Fear song is awesome. It’s great to find a fellow book playlist lover!

  2. chucklesthescot

    Yet again I prove that I am a different species from everyone else as I’ve never in my reading life looked at a book playlist or had any thoughts of playing specific music when I read a certain book. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about in any capacity. I tend to put the TV on in the background with Sky news on mute, sport on low volume or films I’ve seen before with the volume reduced. Sometimes I don’t bother with the TV at all. I never play music though. If I did play music I’d just shove on cds at random without any thought about it. I certainly wouldn’t spend time and effort putting together music cds that a total stranger told me to listen to!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I think you’ll find that I’m usually the odd one out. A lot of people don’t play music while reading, but I love it for the way it can enhance the mood. Though sometimes my computer isn’t on or the book I’m reading doesn’t have a specific mood, and in those cases I put the TV with volume low because I usually need some sort of noise in the background in order to concentrate.

  3. Geraldine @ Corralling Books

    I have a weird relationship with book playlists…I’ll only like them if I’ve been reading the book whilst listening to them, because then those songs will always pull me back to the book! Otherwise, I never click on playlists, unless there are songs there that are vaguely familiar or are on a book playlist by a close friend.
    Music + books – you managed to combine two of my favourite things in one post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t usually seek out book playlists after I’ve already finished a book either, but if I happen to come across the author playlist or something, I might listen to it after, especially if I just like the songs in general. Lol, music and books are both definitely great!

  4. Clara @ Lost in My Library

    I love book playlists! I don’t normally listen to them while I’m reading unless they’re mostly made up of film scores, because I can’t listen to music with lyrics while I read. But I do love listening to them after I finish a book and I just don’t want to leave that world. I tend to only make book playlists when a book especially inspires me – I made one for Six of Crows last month, but I think that’s the only one I’ve made lately. This post reminded me of how much I like them – I should really make some more!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, if the playlist is good, it really does pull you back into the world of the book! I used to make more book playlists, but yeah, now I only get the urge to make them for certain books, usually the ones that I love and have a really emotional feel to them. Certain books just go better with music and inspire me more.

  5. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I think they’re a great way of discovering new songs and I love it when authors include them in their books. Yasmine Galenorn does that with a couple of her series and they’re always fun to listen to. I tend to do a lot of my reading while Mr. Barb is watching TV, so I can’t really listen to music at the same time but I LOVE listening to music in the car and I drive a fair amount for work a couple of days a week.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s awesome when authors actually share playlists. Sometimes it’s not possible to listen while reading, but it’s nice to find music when it is possible! And just listening to music in general is great.

  6. Lola

    When i read the topic for this post I already knew this was going to be something we disagreed about. I am not a very musical person and never really cared for playlists. I have seen a few authors mention they made a playlist and while it seemed like a fun touch I never listened to them or was interested to do so. I can remember once or twice that i recognized an artist on a playlist, but that’s about it. I don’t really couple books with music. Then again i also very rarely listen to music.

    What you say about playlists reminding you about a book, I do have that with other things, but not with playlists. This week I’ve been eating banana on bread for lunch as we had a lot of banana’s and it reminded me of the book i was reading the last time I ate banana’s for lunch. I do get the music connection with games for example, if I listed to a song I know from a game I get reminded of that game, so i can sort of imagine how that would be for you with books instead.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol guess we can’t agree on everything 😉 I listen to music kind of a lot in general, I guess, so it makes sense that I’d also use it while reading, and so the opposite makes sense for you.

      That’s interesting that certain foods and other things can remind you of books. I don’t think I connect many other things with books. I might connect something like a food with certain people or memories, but not really books.

  7. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I think I’m one of the few people who doesn’t associate music with my books … at all. I think a big part of that is because I really only listen to Christian music, so I’m woefully behind on all of the popular songs that everyone else loves. I don’t only listen to Christian music because I look down on “heathen” music or anything goofy like that—I’ve just always tended to stick to one radio station because I’m a creature of habit. When my kids were little I started noticing that the radio station that I used to listen to (an alternative station) had a lot of discussions about things I didn’t really want them tuning in on, so I flipped through the stations and found KLove—I liked the music and I just stuck with it. But I do feel a bit out of the loop when it comes to music, and I haven’t really tried playlists. I LOVED listening to the music for Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, though, so I definitely get what you mean about music setting the mood.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Nah, this seems to be a pretty split topic. I can’t say I’m up to date on popular or new music either, in the car I pretty much only listen to the alt rock station on my satellite radio lol and at home it’s mostly YouTube of songs I already know, but somehow I manage to find songs for books sometimes, usually around that general genre. I guess that’s why I find that only certain books go well with music—those books just happen to go well with the type of music I like 😛

  8. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    I LURVE me some book playlists because they help me lose myself in the world, but I’ve been struggling to find sites/music apps that have fan made playlists. What do you use (besides Youtube)?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly! I was using 8tracks for a while, you can search for playlists by keyword which is awesome, but now they’ve changed it so that you can only listen to a certain amount of music per week :-/ Still better than no music per week though lol.

  9. Greg

    I like playlists especially by authors to see what music inspired them or that they think goes with their story. I think writing with music on can definitely set a tone. And while I don’t usually do playlists myself for books I’m reading, I do read with music on and like I’ve mentioned before it does sometimes link the book and the music in my mind. And yes being reminded of a book later just from the music- love that!

    And yes also to the emotional part. I like instrumental or New age/ ambient type music when I read because some of that music is so good at setting a tone- it can generate emotions by itself, let alone paired w/ a book. It’s like double the fun lol.

    I don’t think I’ve ever made a playlist per se other than, again, just putting on certain music. But I’d like to! I’m just afraid it would take me forever. Mine might be mostly instrumental too, for fantasy especially, but maybe not for YA?

    The Hardcover Lover is a blog that sometimes does a Saturday Sountrack feature, and she does playlists, but I think she does more YA books

    1. Kristen Burns

      Author playlists are awesome. I agree that both writing and reading with music can set a tone and change how the book is written or experienced. I’m glad you agree with what I was saying about how it reminds me of the book later!

      Yes! The music that I listen to the most in general tends to be music that’s emotional all on its own, so when you combine it with an emotional book, it’s all just amplified in an awesome way.

      When I listen to music while reading, I mark down songs that go well with it, and then if I find a song randomly later I’ll write it down, but when I don’t have enough from doing that, it does take time to start searching YouTube for similar songs and whatnot. That’s why I haven’t made one in a while :-/ I really want to make one for Obscura Burning (maybe I should do that now before my review goes up tonight) and Slowly We Rot since they were both really intense and emotional and would go amazingly with music, but so far I only have a few songs for each. Instrumental can definitely work great for fantasy, but yeah, doesn’t seem like it’d go quite as well with YA or contemporary.

  10. Karen Blue

    I am pretty picky when it comes to music, so I don’t actually listen to book playlists. I did get an email from one of the authors I adore and she included some of the music she listened to while writing certain scenes. It was nice to hear the soundtrack for her writing. Maybe I should check them out. Thanks for sharing why you love them!

  11. Luna & Saturn

    Book playlists seem like a lot of fun, but we never listen to them because we get distracted too easily. It’s cool how you think that playlists set the mood for your book, we’ve never really thought of it that way. It’s seems like a really great way to discover new songs though! Great post Kristen! <3
    ~ Pendragons 

    1. Kristen Burns

      I know a lot of people can’t listen to music while reading because it distracts them. My brain just automatically pushes music to the background though. And it does help me discover new songs sometimes! Thanks 🙂

  12. Victor

    Hi Kristin,

    At the risk getting my Book Lover/Avid Reader card revoked I’m going to come clean and state that this is the first I am hearing about this. When I saw the title to this post in my inbox, I had a few simultaneous thoughts, “What’s a book playlist? Is that a non-conformist way of saying TBR? Why is Kristin straying from books and talking about music? It’s got to be about music right? A playlist of books doesn’t make sense.”

    Then I realized I’d get answers if I just clicked over to the post before I started going around in circles.

    Hmm. I learnt me something today. I’ve heard of people having a radio, or tv on in the background while they read, but, unless my memory is failing me, never that they went out of their way to get music to match the feel of the story. Sounds like it may have the same effect as the score in a movie. Interesting. I get easily distracted but I would be willing to give it a try. As long as there are no lyrics. I fancy myself a singer, a cat’s-tail-caught-under-a-rocking-chair singer, but a singer nonetheless and if I learn the words to the song, I’ll be singing not reading.

    Have you ever listened to an audiobook? Is there music in the background?

    1. Kristen Burns

      What?! Hand over your Book Lover card right now! Jk 😛 “A non-conformist way of saying TBR.” Haha, I love it. I love the things our brains come up with to try and figure out things we don’t know. But no worries, I didn’t know what it was before I started seeing it on social media a couple years ago. That’s a good comparison, it is kinda like background music in a movie. That’s the best, when the song that’s on happens to match up perfectly with the specific scene I’m reading in a book. Songs with no lyrics, or lyrics in a language you don’t know, work well if you’re distracted by words.

      I don’t listen to audiobooks, for the very same reason I’m able to listen to music while I read lol: my brain tends to tune out audio to the background. So I don’t know if audiobooks ever have music. Good question though!

  13. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    oh well.. If I can read when is nice and quiet imagine with music! 🙂 So nope. I can’t !

    So I think it’s great you can actually listen to music AND read 🙂

    I DO like to listen to music when I write so I think I should check out the playlists of the authors of books similar to my WIP to see what inspired them. Thanks for posting about it! 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      My mind just kind of automatically pushes audio to the background, so it works for me. But if you can listen to music while writing, I feel like you could totally listen while reading! That’s a good idea for finding writing music though, to see what authors of similar books have used.

  14. Cyn @ Bookmunchies

    Ah, I really should try looking for book playlist more! I usually enjoy listening to music while I read but it’s just random stuff that afterwards I associate with the book haha. I think finding author created or reader created playlist would really bring the emotions for the books!
    Great post, Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I usually just end up searching for random music that I think might fit the mood of the book since most of what I read is indie and doesn’t have playlists. But finding author or reader playlists ahead of time is great because then you can just enjoy the emotion it brings instead of ending up with random songs that don’t fit at all. Thanks!

  15. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I am totally with you on this one. I love bookish playlists and always have. I just love playlists in general. I like playlists for certain moods. For when I’m tired, for when I’m relaxing, for when I want to say focused, for when I’m angry. I like music to feature always so bookish playlists were always going to be something I enjoy. I do find they can be perfect whilst reading a book, but I like to listen to them after finishing as well to remind me of the book. I still find I have certain songs make me think of a book I’ve read and I love how a song can trigger a memory for you. I also love author playlists for characters and such because they obviously wrote the book and know the characters! I do find if a playlist has a song I don’t like in it I can be a bit but off though.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yay a fellow playlist lover! I don’t have playlists for every mood, but I do have some different stations on Pandora and I used to use 8tracks a lot because you can search for playlists by keyword, which is the best, except now you can only listen to a certain amount of music per week unless you pay. But yeah, exactly, not only are they great while reading, songs can trigger memories, so it works with books too when you listen after reading. I’ve never found any author playlists for characters, that sounds cool! Oh, yeah, I’ve come across some playlists in which it’s maybe not even that I don’t like the song, it’s that it just doesn’t fit the mood of the book at all and was only chosen for the lyrics. But I need the sound of the songs to fit.

      1. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

        Yes, exactly! Like, I get it that the lyrics can fit perfectly but if it’s a pop song that’s being used for a darker toned book it doesn’t fit. It’s why I love when people put the effort in to find a cover for that song where it’s been arranged completely differently and changed the entire feel of the song. It doesn’t happen often but when you can get a good cover so lyrics and tone fit a book then I am happy.

        1. Kristen Burns

          I never even thought to look for covers of songs when making playlists… But yes it really annoys me when I find an author playlists but then the songs are all over the place and don’t match the mood at all -_-

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! It’s even more awesome when I’m listening to music while reading and the perfect song just comes on, by chance, for a particular scene. That’s the best.

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  17. Lampshade Reader

    You know, for some reason I don’t think of music when I read a book. But it is interesting to know what others though of, or what the author was listening to. ~Aleen

  18. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    I’ve never really paid attention to book playlists. I know some authors who publish them with the books and I’ve always just kind of skimmed and moved on (partially because I never knew any of the songs, lol). That said, I DO listen to music while I read ALL THE TIME and I’m even picky about what kind of things I listen to depending on the book I’m reading. I might have to start paying closer attention to those kinds of habits 😛

    1. Kristen Burns

      Honestly I rarely ever use pre-made playlists since most of what I read is indie and doesn’t have fan playlists. Also I’m just too lazy to look lol. But just finding music that suits the mood and using that is great!

  19. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    I’ve never really thought about book playlists too much before and I’ve never really tried one out. I have seen a few though and now that you’ve mentioned them and highlighted why you love them I’m actually keen to listen to one! What a great idea!

    I do love music but somehow that remains separate to my love of reading? Anyways, I will just have to give it a go now and see how it turns out for me. 🙂

    Thanks Kristen!

  20. Cilla

    Cool post! I’ve actually never listened to book playlists made by authors. Mostly because I don’t know if an author has a playlist or not, but if I do, I’d probably listen when I’m not reading. I get distracted if I have noise in the background while reading, haha. I’ve also never made playlists for books, but I love making playlists for my characters when I’m writing. They’re usually for my own source of motivation though, and I’ve never thought about whether I’d ever share them with any potential readers.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I usually don’t end up checking for author playlists before I start books either, but I sometimes just try to find my own music or end up finding author playlists after reading and then listen to them later 🙂 You should totally share your playlists once you publish your books!

  21. Bookworm Brandee

    Okay, well you know I think music is awesome. And I love it when authors incorporate music into the story – I’ve found new music this way because I’m old and out of the music loop. 😉 And I do enjoy it when authors share their playlists because I do like listening to the music and seeing how it might have influenced the writing, characters, etc., in certain scenes. But I just can’t listen and read. LOL Perhaps this is also because I’m old…I didn’t grow up with computers or cell phones or iPods so my brain, while it can multitask at certain things, cannot multitask when reading.
    Thanks for sharing why YOU love playlists, Kristen! 😀

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m out of the music loop too lol. The only time I listen to the radio is in the car, and even then I only listen to my alt rock satellite radio station. But playlists are a great way to find new stuff! And I love seeing what the authors actually used. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in your inability to listen and read, apparently a lot of people can’t do that! Maybe you’re right that I’m just used to it since I grew up multitasking!

  22. Sam @ Sharing Inspired Kreations

    I’ve actually never listened to a book playlist. I’ve seen them around, but just never listened to one. I should, though. I love music and I’m always looking for new favourite artists. This seems like a good way to find that!