T10T: How I Make (or Break!) My Reading Moods

August 21, 2018


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s prompt was to list books to pull you out of a slump, but that differs from one slump to the next for me—and even more than that, what works for one person’s slump won’t always work for another!

Instead, I wanted to talk about ways that I make (or break) my reading moods! As someone who has ADHD and a loud, busy house (thanks, 2-year-old wild child), the reading mindset can be a difficult one for me to get into. Here are some things that work—or don’t work—to help me read!

5 things that HELP…

1. A cup of tea
It may sound silly, but something about a mug of warm tea really helps me get settled in to a good book. It works even better if the tea has caffeine, because my attention span is much better when I’m wide awake and alert!

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2. Good lighting
It may sound obvious, but a lot of people underestimate the power of a good reading lamp! If I’m reading a physical book, it has to be bright enough to see well, but not so bright that the light bounces back off of the pages. When it comes to ebooks, I prefer reading in dimly lit rooms with the backlight on my iPad or Kindle—but not a pitch dark room, because then I can get a headache.

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3. Noise-cancelling headphones
Even if I’m in a quiet room, alone, there’s always going to be white noise going on, whether it’s the dishwasher running, the air conditioner, or even little background stuff like my cats being jerks (which is what is happening right now haha). Noise-cancelling headphones are awesome because I’m very sensitive to background noises, and those little sounds distract me every time!

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4. Quiet, instrumental music
While background noise bugs me, I love instrumental music as a soundtrack for reading. It can’t have any vocals at all, and for some reason most classical music doesn’t work, but I love a good acoustic or very chill EDM playlist. Some of my favorites can be found on Spotify if you search for the “Summer Acoustic” playlist or the “Atmospheric Calm” playlist.


5. Being ALONE!
I know, this sounds harsh, but it’s true: the #1 thing I need to really zone into a book is to be in a room by myself. This is why I get 99% of my reading done either while my son naps in the afternoons, or after he and my partner go to bed at night! Even if they’re being quiet and not trying to distract me, the fact that they’re there keeps me from fully tunneling in to my story.

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5 things that HURT…

1. Television/movies
This is the #1 thing I cannot handle while reading, is having a TV on in the same room. I used to be able to read and watch TV at the same time, and at the end of it, I could tell you exactly what happened in both of them! Sadly, my attention span has worsened in recent years, and now, I just end up putting the book down and watching whatever is going on (even though I vastly prefer books to film).

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2. Music with vocals
This is the #2 most likely thing to break my reading concentration: music with vocals. They don’t even have to be in a language I can understand! A funny side effect to this is that I also can’t listen to instrumental versions of songs I know the words to, because I start to hear the vocal tracks in my head…

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3. Snacks
I know, it might sound weird, but snacking while reading is super distracting to me! I’m always worried I’ll get food on the pages or on my ereader, so I usually just put the book down, eat my meal, and then get back to reading afterwards.

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4. Moving vehicles
I used to be a pro at reading in the car! I would take several books on every family road trip, because I would literally read from the moment we started driving to the moment we reached our destination. While I’m still capable of reading in the car without motion sickness, I do get distracted way too easily and end up reading super slowly, or putting my book down pretty quickly. (Of course, audiobooks are a great exception to this rule when I’m driving alone!)

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5. Reading outside
This one, I’m a little sheepish to admit. I love reading outside, but where I live now, I can’t ever fully focus on what I’m reading, because… well, as a kid, I grew up in homes that were either a little distance off from neighbors, or had privacy fences. This is the first home I’ve ever lived in where the neighbors are within my line of sight and we don’t have a privacy fence, and I tend to get a little wary while sitting outside! It doesn’t help that one of my neighbors creeps me out, like… a lot…

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Let me know in the comments: what helps you get into the reading zone? What hurts your reading moods?


More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. Yay to all of them! Especially since I understand how ADHD can hinder with even reading. I cannot drink coffee for the life of me though because that much caffeine doesn’t act well with the meds. Also, I have to learn how to manage my sleep, it makes the inattentiveness worse lol

      1. Oh no, that stinks that you can’t have caffeine! I don’t know what I’d do if I had to cut it out. I get headaches if I go more than a day or so without it! ? I feel for you on the sleep issue though! Just this week I’ve been trying to start going to bed by 2am because it’s normally more like 4-4:30.

    1. I love the twist you did on this post! In the past couple of months I have the hardest time focusing on reading when there are others around, maybe it’s because I am more out going then I was previously or my attention span isn’t just what it use to be but I can relate to so many of these. We currently been touring colleges with my siblings and moving them into their dorms and I do some of my best reading in the car with my headphones in. Which something previously haven’t be able to do. It’s amazing how reading habits change over time!
      Great post!
      Amber ♥ The Book Bratz
      My TTT

      1. Thank you so much! I’m sorry that you’re able to relate so much, but glad I’m not alone. It really is amazing how much our habits can change. I miss when I could just zone out while reading and forget the whole world until I finished the book!

      1. Haha I’m glad it isn’t just me, Heather! But YES to tea and instrumental music — never gets old. Let me know if you have any music recommendations, and thank you, love! ♥

    1. I also need a perk-me-up drink while reading because I tend to fall asleep easily, lol. But instead of tea, I prefer coffee for my caffeine fix. I can read while snacking, tho ‘coz chewing also keeps me awake. 🙂

    1. These are so true! I make my tea by the gallon… although I drink it iced. I probably couldn’t do music without vocals either, because my mind would start thinking about that.
      Oddly enough, I generally don’t have trouble reading while I’m at lunch at work. Unless one of my coworkers sits down next to me and wants to be chatty. I mean, they’re really nice and all, but my imaginary friends need me too!

      1. I love iced tea too, on occasion! I used to only drink it cold but now I’m fine with it at any temp, really.
        Bahaha, yes, exactly! Next time, just tell them they’re interrupting your book friends. ??

    1. Totally with you on needing to be alone. I only read during my sons nap time too or when I go to bed on time. Or when husband has to work the night (though that often gets claimed by blogging too haha).

      1. I’m glad it’s not just me! Ugh I feel you on your reading time getting sucked up by blogging. I try to do a little blogging whenever my son is playing sometimes just so I have the reading time when he goes to sleep, but he doesn’t often let me blog, either. What is it about mommies trying to do stuff that makes us even bigger baby magnets than usual? ?

        1. Right? It is even worse when his dad is home and I try and do something. Like hello, you have another person in the room, but nope, only mommy.

    1. I love reading outside, but it’s so difficult with so much to look at and listen too, plus the ungodly hot weather we’re having here. Yes to being alone! I am always devastated when I’m with others while reading, due to being interrupted and/or distracted following each sentence! 😀

      1. Do you have any favorites/recommendations? Besides those playlists I mentioned, I have a hard time finding new reading music! I used to listen to movie or game scores but after enough times with those, I start thinking about the scenes they correspond with and getting distracted. ?

    1. Great post! I’m curious- as someone with ADD– do you have a harder time reading ebooks than hard copy books like I do?

      1. Thank you! Oh man, I used to, BIG TIME! It would take me WEEKS to finish an ebook because of that. The longer I’ve been reading eARCs, the more I’ve been able to get past it, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to focus on ebooks as well as I do physical books!

        1. I’m bugging publishers about it and some are better about it than others. But maybe a year from now they’ll be industry wide change.

    1. I have no idea how some people can eat while reading, I admire that lol. I’ve always wanted to listen to instrumental music while I’m reading, I’ve never done it though! I should try, maybe it works for me ?

      1. Same! I mean, if it’s something not messy and a finger food I don’t have to look at (like grapes) I can do okay SOMETIMES, but mostly no. And you totally should give it a try! The thing I like about instrumental music while reading is that I’ve reached the point where I can listen to mostly any genre while reading, whether it’s EDM, metal, acoustic easy listening, classical, etc – just as long as it doesn’t have words. ?

    1. Completely agree with you about reading in the same room as a TV playing! Usually I read on the couch and my fiance will watch something on his computer and even when I’m facing away, I still gotta look at what is going on *sigh* such a bummer that it is so distracting…
      I don’t often read outside. I’ve started to because I generally eat lunch at work outside, but besides that nope. Maybe when I get some chairs and a sun shade I’ll make my way down to the beach and try reading there ^_^

      1. Ugh, isn’t it so aggravating? ? I’m glad it’s not just me, though!
        Ooh, the beach would be nice! I think I could read outside a lot easier if not for my neighbor problem. ?

    1. I love your take on this week’s prompt! I’m the opposite in the fact that I have to have some noise in the background while I read! When it’s too quiet I get freaked out haha
      I’m so jealous of your ability to read in a car! My max limit would be 5 minutes because I get such bad motion sickness, so yay for audiobooks!

      1. Thank you! Haha that is too funny – I can only have silence when I’m reading, but if I’m doing anything else, I need noise! Especially when I’m trying to go to sleep.
        Oh no, that’s gotta suck! Thank goodness for audiobooks in that case!

    1. I can’t read in the car anymore either, which is sad because when I was a kid we always went on long car rides and I read the entire time! I actually love white noise, so reading with the normal sounds of life around me, like birds chirping outside, etc, is comforting to me.

      1. Same, I miss binge reading on road trips! And I’m jealous that you can read with the noises going on – I miss being able to. It might sound weird but I’m actually trying lately to FORCE myself to read with noisier backgrounds again in case maybe I can get accustomed to it again.

    1. 4/5 things on your no list are things I can actually do whilst reading-I always listen to music with vocals while reading, I can watch TV whilst reading as long as I’m reading on an e-reader rather than a physical book, 9 times out of ten when I’m reading it’s on public transport or in the car or on a plane and I actually enjoy reading outside. It’s cool to see how different people like different situations for reading. I definitely get the snacks one though-I would be way too worried about ruining my book to eat whilst reading!
      My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/top-ten-tuesday-173/

      1. I am sooooo jealous, especially that you can watch TV while reading!! Most of the things that I can’t do now, I could do just fine when I was younger, but watching TV while reading has to be the biggest thing I wish I could still do. I almost never watch television or movies because I have to choose, and reading wins, 9/10 times!

        1. Ha ha thanks-I can only do it when what I’m reading is digital though, otherwise, I definitely could not do it! I mean fair enough-reading would always win for me too 🙂

    1. That’s a shame about you not being able to read outside anymore! I find the fresh air and natural light to be great at times. Of course, the sun can be a bit much, what with trying to kill us and all.
      As for myself, my optimum reading conditions depends largely on my mood. Sometimes I like to be completely alone, other times in the coffee shop. Music of any kind tends to be a big no-no.
      It’s interesting, that everyone’s different. 🙂

    1. I absolutely agree with all of these, except reading in a car. I can thankfully still read without motion sickness, and can usually drown out whatever conversation my family is having. ?
      Lovely list, doll! ❤️

      1. Thank you, Kelly! I am legit so envious that you’re good at drowning them out. ? Maybe I can get back to being good at that if I try hard enough! (If you listen carefully, you can hear my whole family groaning at the thought lol)

    1. Great post! I can read in just about any situation, nothing really bothers me or stops me from getting into the story but recently I’ve been reading ebooks for review on my phone and it definitely ruins my reading mood. I have a hard time settling in to read when I’m staring at my phone. It just doesn’t work for me!

      1. Thank you! That is so cool that most things don’t bother you while reading! I miss being like that! Maybe I can get back to being like that someday. I’m sorry ebooks aren’t working well for you, though! I didn’t start reading ebooks much until fall of 2016 and it took me several months to get used to.

    1. Uhhh did I just ghost-write this? This is so me, Destiny! I mean, not really, because I love snacking and reading outside. 😀

      1. Hahaha, twinning! I love it. ? oh I do love snacking, it just distracts me so much if it’s a messy food or anything. I miss reading outside – stupid creepy neighbors and my paranoia! ?

    1. Ugh I hate reading outside, too! I just don’t get it. Maybe because it has been such a hot summer, but the idea of leaving air conditioning behind for humidity when I’m trying to relax and read just sounds like the literal worst.

      1. LMAO, preach! It’s been such a gross summer where I’m at – we’ve had so many storms that the humidity is even worse than normal (and that’s saying a lot in my part of Georgia). I’m so ready for fall!

    1. This is such a great list!
      I don’t mine listening to music when I read since I usually start to tune out the world if I’m super engrossed in a book. But yes,I totally get the reading alone thing!
      When I lived in NY, I would read on the subway a lot, but always got super self conscience if I started to get emotional or if the book got romantic/sexy. Also, I wouldn’t get fully engrossed because I didn’t want to miss my stop lol.

      1. Thanks, Becky! I laughed out loud at what you said about if the book got too romantic or sexy, because same – I even get awkward if another person is in the room during a smutty scene. And if it’s a really sweet romantic moment, I can’t get sucked in because I’m totally a crybaby when reading. ?

    1. Music, or anything on the TV, really hinders my reading. My boyfriend and I watch a lot of YouTube at home and so when I’m reading, he’ll put some music on or a video that I’m interested in and then that’s it. Lately it’s been The Greatest Showman soundtrack (he’s obsessed) and I can’t stop myself from singing along ? but I completely get what you mean about a good cup of tea. It’s all I tend to drink when I’m reading – or a hot chocolate. Hot drinks really get me in that cozy reading mood.

      1. Hahaha yep! Sometimes my partner will try to put on Queer Eye or a Markiplier video and I will literally side eye him and be like, “but… I’m reading…” in a pitiful voice until he turns it off. ? no shame, I swear. He’s so patient with me. And yessss, hot cocoa! Ugh, now I’m even more ready for cooler weather! ?

    1. Oh, I like your take on this week’s prompt! I think I’m basically the opposite of you. xD I like quiet when I read, but I can’t have it too quiet, so no noise-canceling headphones, and I can’t listen to any sort of music or I get distracted from what I’m reading lol. Oh, and I love snacks and reading. But I also can’t do TV or vehicles when reading … especially not vehicles. Gah! I like reading outside, but I think days like today are my favorite, when it’s all rainy and nasty, so I don’t feel bad for curling up on the couch with a blanket and some coffee. 😉

      1. Thank you! Bahaha I love that we’re like the opposite on so much of it – you would have a great time reading in my house, in that case, because it’s always at least a little bit noisy. ? And YES to the yucky, rainy days. Those are my favorites because they are THE perfect excuse to be cozy and read all day!

        1. We should trade! My house is often quiet in the daytime hours. xD This could work out brilliantly!

    1. My phone is the worst for me lol! Every notification drives me to look at it :/ I’m trying to kill the habit. I do agree that music (instrumental) helps a lot 🙂

      1. Same, my phone is definitely my #1 biggest distraction! I should’ve mentioned that in my “break” section lol! ? It’s so bad. I have to put mine on Do Not Disturb if I really want to get some good reading done.

    1. I love how you take TTT posts and switch them up a little! I can’t read with music or if its completely silent, but there’s something so soothing about little background noises. I also enjoy reading outside, but don’t like to do it in where there are other people around, because then I can’t pay attention to my book. Sorry that you don’t get to read outside anymore because of your creepy neighbor, that sucks!

      1. Thank you, Victoria! What kind of background noises do you like? I don’t mind subtle stuff like the air conditioner, but in my house it seems like it’s always a dog outside, or my son playing on his phone, and it’s so distracting! ? And thanks, yeah, he’s just kind of unsettling! He told us once that he has night vision binoculars and that just made it all worse… eep ?

    1. I really like your spin on this week’s topic! I can’t read with music at all and even my cat going berserker will distract me – I do find a good cup of tea helps!

      1. Thank you, lovely! Ugh, the cat thing, yeah. ? My cats like to wait until I’m really into a book and then start doing their nightly zoomies and fighting right under my chair. It’s cute but SO ANNOYING.

    1. Yes to the cup of tea + instrumental music! I do like reading outside, but only if it’s sunny out since I absolutely hate cold weather; it also has to be in a totally deserted place because I hate strangers interrupting me at the park to ask what I’m reading.

      1. Ooooh, you don’t like cold weather at all? I’m the opposite, I hate hot weather! ? I love being all bundled up in layers and a warm blanket and sitting outside in the cold. It doesn’t get cold here much though so maybe that’s why I like it. But yes, strangers asking what you’re reading never stops being awkward! Especially if it’s something with a bizarre title or cover. ?

    1. I tend to get realllyyyy distracted if I’m not 100% interested in a book. Like right now I’m sitting on the couch scrolling book blogs and not reading Heart of Thorns ??? but in all seriousness, even if the book isn’t my fav, telling myself I can read something better when I’m DONE gets me through ?

      1. Bahahaha ? YES to this! If I’m not all in, everything will distract me. This is why I need to stop reading so many different books at once. I used to do the same thing by telling myself “you can read something better after this!” But now I have such a bad habit of just letting it rot on my shelf while I read five other things. ??

    1. Being alone is a must for me to get any real reading done. I do most of my reading at night too, when my kids are in bed! When they’re up, they’re just too distracting. Mommy has to put down her book every few minutes to get them something or yell at them to quit horsing around 😛

      1. That sounds familiar. ? Are they little enough that they still try to take your books from you, or was that ever an issue? Because that’s a big thing with my kiddo lately – today, I tried reading and he kept taking the book and “reading” it by flipping pages and jabbering at me. At least it was cute. ? ??‍♀️

    1. Love your take on this! I’m 100% with you on reading outside. I know the idea of reading on trees and whatnot is aesthetically appealing to readers…but like, you get sap all over you and insects climbing under your clothes, and you’re constantly wondering ‘oh god am I gonna fall.’ I tried it once and it was NOT a fun experience. 😛

    1. Oh I love your take on it! Snacks are hit or miss they have to be clean one handed type things like grapes or something I can have in a bowl and pick at but yeah I worry about getting other stuff on my books too! Netflix is both a blessing and a curse I can go deep down the rabbit hole there but sometimes if I can moderate myself it’s helpful lol Also I should probably invest in a good pair of noise canceling headphones.

      1. Thank you! Lol YES to the snack thing! Grapes are like the best reading snack because I don’t have to look at them to grab them and they don’t make a mess! ? Plus, they’re delicious…

    1. I find that I prefer to read in the car or outside, though I definitely get distracted – especially at night.
      I find that reading on the bus to and from school is actually a great motivator for me, I
      m so used to the route and form of travel by now that I am wayyy less anxious abt it now and can actually get a bit of reading done.

      1. Ohh that’s awesome! We have no public transportation in my area at all. If I go further into the Atlanta metro, there’s a bus system, but it’s not very well maintained so I’ve never really utilized it! Sometimes I wish we had a good system here. I see people from places like London for example posting about how they never have to drive anywhere and they save so much money with not having to pay gas, car payments, etc., and it makes me want to move there. ?

        1. Haha, yeah. We have pretty fantastic public transport in QLD so I’m realy fortunate in that way!

    1. Okay, YES. Totally agree about the caffeinated beverages, good lighting, and reading alone! (I must admit, though, I’m constantly snacking while I read.) Reading outside is a big NOPE for me; there’s just too much to get distracted by (plus, like, outside in Georgia in the summer? nooooo thanks).

    1. I defo need some noise cancelling headphones. Lately every little noise just annoys me. A lot.
      Snacking is usually ok for me. Depending on the snack tho… like, do i have to look at it to eat it? 😀

      1. Lmao I feel you! I almost even clarified that snacks that aren’t messy and don’t require me looking at them are the exception because I can knock out some grapes while reading. ?

    1. Destiny, I love how you interpreted this prompt in such a different way. I do like some nice ambient noise rather than actual music. Plus, I am quite fond of the Pomodoro timers. They give you 25-minute-increments of pure focus. Noise-canceling stuff makes me worry, I think, so I don’t quite go to that as an option.
      Do you get slumps when it comes to reading, though? Are there certain rituals you follow to get out of the slump, or do you let it take its course?

      1. Thank you! I love Pomodoro timers, those are SO helpful! I use them a lot when I’m doing assignments for school that I can’t seem to get motivated to finish any other way.
        I do get in slumps sometimes, and usually I just have to let it take its course! Sometimes, though, short stories can kick a slump for me. I’ve been known to beat slumps by just spending a day or two browsing the scary story subs on Reddit!

    1. YES to being alone! My favorite time to read….well mainly the only time I have to read lol…is at night once my kiddos are in bed and a lot of times my husband is snoring HA. So I’m technically alone in the sense, since no one will bother or interrupt me. When I read a book, I can’t do it in 5-10 minute stints, I need hours so that works perfectly. 🙂

      1. I feel you 100% on needing big blocks of time for reading. It always takes me a few minutes to zone in so if I have to read 10 minutes here or there, I actually won’t be able to pay attention as well and it’s so annoying!

    1. I can’t read while I eat, in the car, or with music in the background. Sometimes I can read with noise around me but I much rather read alone. I don’t have any other preferences other than that.

    1. I’ve got ADHD too! I wasn’t diagnosed until this year because my mum thought I was normal because she’s also got ADHD.
      Reading used to be one of the few times I would sit still as a kid but my attention span has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and more anxious as well.
      I always find I read physical books best when it’s day time and I can open my window for natural light, but I struggle to stay awake when I read in the afternoon after working mornings aha.
      I found rain/storm noises help me read most of all so I tend to put that on and then have my mum pop her head in asking if I can hear that noise ahah. And songs with lyrics a big NO for me as well!
      I need to get myself noise-canceling headphones! I can either read only in dead silence or when it’s very noisy (like when I’m at work), anything in between and I’m useless!

      1. Oh, hugs to you, babe! I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 19. My mom always thought I just didn’t like paying attention – she actually apologizes now whenever it comes up in conversation because she looks back and realizes that she ignored so many of my symptoms. Sometimes parents just aren’t equipped to recognize and deal with these things, you know? <3 Especially if your mom also has it and didn't know, I can only imagine how hard it would be for her to think of something as being "different" or something when she's relating to the things you're going to, too.
        I totally relate to what you said about your attention span and anxiety getting worse, that's 100% me too. It sucks! 🙁
        Speaking of the rain/storm noises, you just reminded me that I want to find a good noise maker app or playlist on spotify to try reading by that! I hadn't thought about it much before but I do love reading when it's raining really hard, that noise is lovely! 🙂

        1. Yeah absolutely she did the best with what she had.
          It really does and they feel pretty entwined tbh honest. I definitely think they can affect each other.
          I downloaded a rain and a storm album from the Apple Music app and it’s been so soothing, I use it when I struggle to sleep sometimes too.

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