What is your reading set-up? How do you concentrate for your reading sessions?

So I was wondering what your set-ups for reading look like, specially for “long” sessions.

I do silence, or very low without lyrics music. I go for either physical or digital e-books, although lately it’s been only digital. Sometimes I do read aloud.

My major issue is the first 15-20 minutes though. I feel like it takes me too long to get in the groove / mood to keep on reading comfortably.

Do you have any tips or tricks for concentration? Is it just a mater of skill after all?


I find that I do different things depending on the day/time.

  • weekend mornings, first thing after getting up – prepare coffee, read 20+ min, eat breakfast (yes, read before eating)
  • weekdays at lunch – eat lunch, read 15-20 min (with timer, otherwise I forget to go back to work :sweat_smile: )
  • Thu/Fri afternoon – go to library, read / zone out for an hour (I only commit to being in the library, reading is a bonus, it’s a nice break)
  • If I get 5 out of 7 days a week, that’s a success. :slight_smile:

I usually read in silence, but sometimes I play some house / trance / lo-fi music that has no vocals (only instrumentals)
'Night Drive' - Relaxing Deep House & Progressive House Mix - YouTube
Chill Lofi Mix [chill lo-fi hip hop beats] - YouTube

Skill? I’d say that, like with any habit, it’s about removing the obstacles and distractions that get in your way. (smartphones, people talking, the feeling you need to be doing something else, sleepiness, hunger, etc.)

Take all of this with a grain of salt – I’ve only been seriously reading for two months now. :slight_smile:


Your brain will fight you at every opportunity, because the alternative to reading is a quick dopamine rush via scrolling through twitter, reddit, youtube, … (whatever your poison of choice is), something that we didn’t have in the past. The possibility of distraction is literally the issue. If your brain is trying to get you to do something else, “punish” it with boredom by doing exactly nothing. I.e. either you read, or you sit there and don’t do anything for the allotted time. That’s your 2 choices. Your brain will eventually re-learn that reading is great (and so much better than boredom) and will stop fighting you. Going somewhere without disctractions (e.g. the library and leaving your phone at home) can help speed up that process. :see_no_evil:


I definitely need silence, I can’t imagine reading while listening to music lol. As for my setup, I have a tall lamp right next to one corner of my couch, with good overhead and natural light too, so that’s my designated reading spot. I don’t have a set time I read anymore but I try to read for about an hour each day, I used to be better about scheduling it.

There are also some days, or periods of days, where I just really can’t get into the mood to read. Usually it’s when I’m deeply engaged with something else in my mind that I can’t stop focusing on. On those days I give it a good 10-15 minute try but stop if I’m still not feeling it. I figure that’s better than wasting time reading when know it won’t stick in my head anyway


I mean I can’t even really manage long reading sessions in English any more, so I just compensate with lots of smaller sessions instead spread over the course of a day. Not a brilliant compromise but that’s the reality of my life these days.

My reading time is a bit different to my study time anyway, which I can generally carve out easier. Though I would like to improve my length of reading sesseions…


For me it depends. I mostly find an issue with starting to focus when studying rather than with reading unless I’m in a noisy area. When at home if I’m struggling to focus, I’ve a few Japanese albums I’ll play that I tend to always play when studying, one in particular seems to help me focus 95% of the time - Moon Saga by Gackt. Otherwise I tend to just sit in silence. Previously I’d use a film with Japanese voice over or a series like Terraced House playing low in the background while I’m reading though.

If I’m struggling at work, I try to find a quiet place to sit and read where I’m less likely to be distracted.

I have found that my concentration level seems to fluctuate depending on the difficulty and how invested and interested I am in the story. If I’m unable to keep focus for long, usually it’s because the story isn’t interesting to me. I did at one point force myself to read through a stack of the graded readers across a few days which I think helped my mind switch over to focus more on reading when I do sit down to it but I wouldn’t recommend that approach unless you’ve got a high tolerance level and high will power.

Something else that has helped me focus on other interests if I’m lagging, is to try to stick to doing it around the same time each day. It then becomes more routine and that makes it easier for me to focus on it over time.

Do you find anything that does help?


Thanks for all the replies.

Plenty of stuff to think about my ways here.

I do have a list of tasks that I usually complete without major problems, reading is usually the last one left.

How the tasks look like

While I do keep reading miscellaneous stuff at least for 20 minutes a day, such as games or articles, I’m having trouble picking up my current books.

I think it’s a mix of what I said earlier, that it takes me long to get into the groove, and that maybe I stopped at a bad part of the book where the story gets kinda slow or less interesting.

This is why I dropped graded readers early on. I’ve taken on my hands harder books than graded readers, but the story makes me less reticent to continue reading something that I lack interest on.

I do find that doing most of the tasks at certain hours regularly does help, but I haven’t found a good time for siting down to read constantly. Also this might prove difficult to do, once my job starts again, as I have to suffer through rotating shifts.

It depends on the mood I have, but I definitely can not do anything that has vocals. And if it’s instrumental it has to be pretty low. I sometimes just put the headphones with the ANC on to avoid distractions. I wonder if ambient noise such as rain or wind noises would help?
Could be worth the test.

I couldn’t even fathom to read at that early in the morning :rofl: . My morning tasks usually are the Kanji exercises which is repetition, and maybe I go through my Bunpro queue.

Maybe I should do that too. The thing is the library is not exactly near to my house. The car is out of order for the time being, and even if it was available, gas is kinda ridiculous lately. Walking is around 1 hour roundtrip. I could try to keep my mind busy with an audiobook on the way, and then there sit for reading or exercises.

Worth the try as well, I just need to find a time that makes sense.

That’s an interesting take. I wouldn’t have though of “punishing” my brain. Thankfully I don’t have to be as extreme as to leave my phone home, because I dropped twitter long ago (and live better without it), and I don’t do much with it anyway, other than productivity.

It takes discipline but I think I’ll try to apply this too. Boredom is it until the tasks are cleared.


I read whenever, wherever with and without noise. I don’t think I could listen to music and read, but it could be playing and I could be ignoring it :joy:

I never lost the habit of reading in English and I have severe 活字中毒 so there’s really nothing fancy for me. The only time I struggle is when either
A) the text is especially hard for me
B) I don’t find it all that interesting

Mostly I read on my couch but I also read in bed, on planes, in cafes, in lobbies, on trains… Wherever.

Starting out when I was looking up more words I’d only read at home for convenience of looking up words (feels awkward to do that a lot in public) but now the flood gates are open :books: :heart:


I think the only real factors for how well a reading session goes is how interesting the book is and how hard it is. Boring books take ages to get through. I do always read before going to sleep for at least a couple of pages just to keep some kind of momentum going, but otherwise reading sessions are usually on the lounge, in silence.

But yeah, no real tips for concentration except to choose better books (easier said than done, I know…), and drop books that are too hard quickly and go back to them later.


My tip would be, for e-books, learning to read on a relatively small screen smartphone. I like pagination that Bookwalker app provides.

Otherwise would be seating, but not too bad to fall asleep.

A little caffeine helps. I am quite addicted, in fact.

I prefer silence, but some noise doesn’t matter, as long as it isn’t as far as work and social obligations.


I find I only really need music where I need to drown out other distractions - specifically if I’m trying to read on public transport and people are having a conversation in English near me, since I automatically cannot help but listen in. So that’s when the ‘study music’ playlist opens (it’s all puzzle music from videogames lol)

Figuring out an OCR lookup for my phone has definitely upped my manga reading, especially now that I have an hour commute if I want to go to the city. I still have to take short breaks every 5-10 minutes though. It’s fine though - I’m just beginning my reading journey (again).


I just read on my commute. I never have too much of an issue concentrating on the train (unless someone is doing a really gross cough next to me!). But then I have always been pretty good at tuning people out when I’m reading :sweat_smile: for me the benefit is it’s about 30-40 minutes max of reading each way, and since Japanese is naturally a lot harder and slower-going than reading in my native language, this stops me getting over-tired or burnt out. I also tend to keep an eye on page numbers to feel my progress!


Oh man, this is something I experiment more than anything else almost.

Almost never put anything on music-wise unless I think I have something particularly thematic to go with what I’m reading. In VNs the music changes and their correspondence to the immediate action do help me concentrate but no such luxury in novels sadly…

The biggest thing that helps me stay focused is something to keep pace for me while reading. One way I’ve done this is using an internal timer to beep every page worth of text’s time. Let’s me know if my mind has started to wander so I can get back on track. The other way I’ve done is reading alongside the audiobook (by speeding up the audiobook to match my reading speed, which makes it sound bad since the voices get so clipped but I do it just to have something to keep a constant pace not to listen :sweat_smile: )

As for what I read on, another one that helps me concentrate a lot is https://readwok.com/ (although as a warning it doesn’t handle images correctly on every ebook, so some LNs may lose a few). The highlighting of a single line and the physical feedback of clicking forward every single line helps me stay concentrated


I’m the same way.

I also do most of my reading while I’m at work. I work in an elementary school so the kids get pretty loud. Ironically, I have to read with my music loud enough to drown out the kids so I can focus. Only at work though. If I’m at home I need silence. Idk what to say, I guess I’m weird. :joy:


You just reminded me I used to have a ‘focus time’ playlist of songs from Zachtronics games! I usually never listen to music while reading, but I might have to try with that sometime.


I don’t need music when I read German or English, but when I need to concentrate for work, study or reading a foreign language I’m not firm with like Japanese, I usually listen to https://www.di.fm/ambient. I have Spotify playlists too, but di.fm pretty much always hits the spot.


I don’t need any kind of specific setup to concentrate on reading. I can read waiting for the bus, on the bus, at home, with people and without, in noisy or silent environments alike. I don’t put music on, I’d only end up ignoring it anyway. Sometimes the environment is persistently distracting, but if the book is interesting enough I soon tune it out.

Unfortunately, one thing I definitely need lately is my reading glasses, but even without them I just enlarge the font to ridiculous sizes (yay for ebooks) and read on. Low light has also started to bother me lately, which means I tend to not read in bed any more. I used to do most of my reading in bed, I miss that.

Edit: Actually, I just remembered a technique I use when I have trouble concentrating: I start reading aloud. Only for a paragraph or so, after that I don’t need it any more.


I find I read best:

  • over breakfast, and at lunch in the work cafeteria – just eating is boring, and through habit in both places I don’t have any other distraction than the book. It’s only 15 mins or so in each case, though
  • in bed, for an hour or so before I go to sleep – again, combination of habit and not having other distractions

Otherwise, I can read, but I often find myself reaching for the tablet to check web forums, look at youtube, or otherwise take a low-effort break from reading.


I have glasses all the time and haven’t been able to do low light reading in years. They sell all sorts of little book lights but I find a well angled lamp by the bed works best for me, with a soft diffused light that’s not too harsh. I only read paperbacks in bed though, unsure if that would work well for e-readers or not.


I generally read in dim, indirect lighting. It occasionally makes it harder to see (when I’m reading physical manga, since everything else is digital), but if the light is too bright or too direct it just gives me a headache. :sweat_smile: