World Book Day – 10 relaxing instrumental albums to listen to while reading

Put the kettle on

It’s World Book Day – so we’ve compiled a list of ten calming instrumental albums to listen to while reading. So, breathe in, get a cup of Earl Grey, and take that dusty copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses off the bookshelf.

1. Brian Eno – ‘Ambient 1/Music for Airports’

Sparse, broken piano cords. Calming bass-y undertones. This is the first of four albums in Eno’s ‘Ambient’ series – made up of music Eno said would “induce calm and a space to think” – and features four pieces created from layering tape loops of different lengths.

2. Yann Tiersen – ‘Amélie (soundtrack)’


Allow the soothing sounds of Yann’s pianos, accordions and harpsichords to wash over you as you read – while thinking wistfully of Paris.

3. Laurel Halo – ‘Dust’

An electronic, experimental album – complete with some flitting voice samples – to lie back and listen as you read.

4. Max Richter – ‘Sleep’

This serene masterpiece by composer Max Richter is based on the neuroscience of sleep – hence its length at nearly eight-and-a-half hours long. There’s pianos, violas, and cellos. Put it on in the background and get cracking on Melville’s Moby Dick.

5. Mogwai – ‘The Hawk is Howling’


The Scottish post-rock band’s sixth studio album, filled with gentle guitar-strumming, is a great record to focus your mind. There’s a fair amount of drumming and some heavier guitar chords, however it’s carefully balanced – the music is just enough to help you concentrate, but not so much that it becomes a distraction in itself.

6. Aphex Twin – ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’

This electronic album is beat-drive yet atmospheric – food for concentration.

7. Helen Jane Long – ‘Porcelain’

The debut album by this British composer – known for her work on the film score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy – is piano-driven and tranquil. There’s some strings and guitar, too.

8. Kamasi Washington – ‘The Epic’

Fancy some jazz? Try Washington’s debut album for saxophones, trumpets and trombones played over piano and bass.

9. 2814 – ‘新しい日の誕生’

This British collaborative’s album is slow, futuristic and spacey. It’s full of urban sounds.

10. Moby – ‘Long Ambients1. Calm. Sleep.’

Oh, Moby, what would we do without you? The electronic pioneer took a step away from his heavy-sounding drum machines to create 11 tracks of ambience.


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