For me, nothing beats complete silence while writing or reading. I used to be able to listen to music, any kind of music while I wrote. But then, I could only listen to instrumental music. But now it’s impossible. Floorboards creaking, doors clicking, people chattering, pens scraping, keyboard tapping—everything rattles me. So for the past year I’ve been wearing heavy-duty earphones that considerably lowers decibels. Unfortunately, after about an hour or so, the pressure on the ears becomes too much to bear. I was talking to Eugene Lim and Gary Lutz about this a few days ago and Lim mentioned that he listens to a recording of white noise. I searched for something like this online and found this site Simply Noise where they offer a free looping recording of white noise. You can even set it to oscillate in volume. They also have free downloads of “pink” and “brown/red” noise, as well as a recording of a thunderstorm.
So what do you like to listen to while you write and/or read, if anything? And where do you go for silence?