Musing Mondays – Distractions

from Should Be Reading by MizB

This week’s musing asks…

Can you read amidst distractions? (tv, others talking, sporting events, etc)

I used to be able to read through most things. When I was at school I had to do my homework downstairs in the winter – my bedroom was too cold (no central heating) and as my grandparents lived with us and had the front room I had to do my homework with the rest of the family who were watching TV and talking. It never bothered me. I used to lie on the floor reading or writing, oblivious to the noise all round me. My sister could be chattering, playing the piano and generally messing about and I was still absorbed in a book. I used to walk around reading and could read anywhere.

But these days the sound level can affect me. I can read with the TV on, but the sound level has to be just right – too high or too low can be a distraction - but a programme that interests me can intrude sometimes. Music is great for reading by, I rarely hear it. I can read in waiting rooms, but people sitting next to me talking loudly (both the old and the young can do that) can be distracting. And children playing are very distracting. I was waiting in the hospital for my husband recently and a small girl was playing very quietly on a little rocking horse, well she was quiet but the rocking horse wasn’t and it kept moving nearer and nearer to my feet.

So, I do read with noise all round me and it’s not distracting if it’s just background noise, but anything more and I can’t do it.

16 thoughts on “Musing Mondays – Distractions”

  1. Like you I learned to be able to block out most distractions while younger – I grew up in a small house with lots of people in it and if I hadn’t learn to read through noise I’d have never opened a book.

    These days I’m a bit picker and do prefer silence but I can still read through constant noise. What I find more difficult is the ups and downs of places like public transport – that’s when I tend to listen to my books in audio format or read a magazine which requires less attention than a book I really want to savour.

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  2. I liked your Monday post. I have found as I’ve gotten older it’s harder to read with noise, but most times I can tune it out if the book is really good.

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  3. Margaret – Interesting question about distractions. I find it very hard to read with distractions unless it’s something very light and easy. When I really want to savour what I’m reading, I do need peace and quiet.

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  4. It’s similar for me. I used to be able to read no matter what was going on around me, but not so much anymore. Silence would be the best thing for me, although I do still read in waiting rooms or Barnes and Noble.

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  5. if the book is good, I find nothing a distraction. In fact, I am afraid I am one of those TV on, as background noise, all the time folks. I read, write, work…do everything with the ‘distraction’.

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  6. I lived in a dorm for a few years in college and I could study even when there was a raging party going on nextdoor. I’m good at blocking out music while I read and I can block out everything while reading on the train except sometimes people on cell phones talking at a particular sound level are hard to tune out.

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  7. I’m not easily distracted, but I do hate noise whether reading or not. I prefer a quiet place to read and sunlight rather than lamp light. A television or radio with the volume set low is okay, although it also depends upon what’s on the television. I find the news very distracting whereas I was able to read for an hour while my grandson was visiting and was mesmerized by Thomas The Tank Engine. Unfortunately, however, the tune soaked into my subconsciousness and I’ve been humming it for days.

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  8. I used to be able to read in coffee shops but not in doctors’ waiting rooms. Music didn’t bother me, tv did. Later I could read with tv on, but not in coffee shops. The reason for that is changing vision. I started reading without my glasses and couldn’t just look up and see the tv. But now that I have good progressive glasses, tv might become distracting again.

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  9. I’m so easily distracted it’s hard for me to concentrate on anything. I confess to eavesdropping on conversations all the time in public places – maybe that’s why writing dialogue is the easiest writing of all for me. I can’t even read with music on, must listen to the music or read, not both. The sounds of nature are the only sounds that don’t interrupt my reading, although I can read a thriller or exciting mystery in a crowd because I’m so engrossed.

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  10. I’m the reverse–I used to need absolute quiet to read, probably because our house when I was growing up was relatively quiet, even though I had 5 siblings, but TV/radio were rarely on. However, once I had kids, I adapted to reading with a pretty constant din in the background. I can now pretty much read in any setting, but I still luxuriate in quiet.

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  11. I love quiet, but it’s so rare that when silence appears something is usually wrong! I do need more quiet now in order to focus, and that usually means reading late at night after the house settles down.
    I’ve tried reading at coffee shops and doctors appts, but it’s tough…I love to people watch.

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  12. I like a bit of background noise – I can read through virtually any noise. It’s things to look at that distract me…

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