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Noise level whilst reading is a really personal thing that depends not only the kind of reader you are but what kind of thing you're reading. If I'm reading a dense theoretical article or a work of fiction, then there is no way that music beyond the realm of background muzak can be tolerated. That said, if I have complete silence then I get distracted far more easily. It's like a part of my brain is a small child that needs to be distracted so the grown-up part of the brain can concentrate. For anything less dense like an interesting but not too challenging article then any music without lyrics is fine, so this is where my 'oontz' collection of Ministry of Sound and the like comes in pretty handy. But if anything with lyrics is playing, then I am really only skimming whatever I'm reading. As for non-musical noise, I have my dear husband to thank for training me to be able to block out nearly anything after years of being in the same room as he plays Playstation games!
In any case, the reason I'm writing this post is to find out from you about your 'reading condition' preferences. Do you need silence? A bit of noise? And if you're one of those incredible people who can listen to their iPod AND read I'd love to hear from you!