The Bathroom Reader

bathroom reader


During college, a roommate of mine had the perfect book—a paperback specifically designed for bathroom reading. I don’t remember checking it out then, as the thought of reading someone else’s bathroom book did not seem quite right.


As a side note, another friend of mine was curious about a thick book of money tips sitting I had on the back of the toilet. When he started to flip through it, my bookmark—an Our Daily Bread pamphletfell out. Into the toilet. He quickly retrieved it and attempted to clean and dry it. Afterwards, he held it out to me and said, “This book fell in the toilet.” No apology, no explanation, but hilarious to me. Not mentioning any names…


At a recent yard sale, I found the book my roommate had—Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, written by none less than the Bathroom Reader’s Institute. It was “especially designed with the needs of bathroom readers in mind: It’s full of brief but interesting articles that can be read in a few seconds, or a few minutes.” (p4) More importantly, it has topics ranging from historical myths to riddles, Mark Twain and Einstein quotes to vocab etymology, little known facts about Barbie to the story behind Louis, Louis. It even has a table of contents.


This yard sale version looked unused, so I figured it was safe to buy. I don’t suppose I can ever resell it, as most of the pages are now dogeared. Then again, I may keep it as a reference. There are few things so beneficial for authors as wide reading. Maybe a fact about Gilligan’s Island can strike a thought for a character, or a quote by Nixon could be spoken to add realism.


Check it out. The Bathroom Reader is meant to fill your mind as you empty your bladder. It is not meant to be read straight through. Their advice: open a page and “go with the flow.”


Losing your mind… and finding it

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Do you ever have the perfect idea, only to forget it moments later? You kick yourself because all you can remember is that it was phenomenal. You retrace your steps, you go through your train of thoughts, but the tracks are cold and you are left wondering what could have been.

The solution: always have a notepad with you. And a working pen.

A notepad comes in many forms—a napkin, a brightly colored orange notebook, a Palm Pilot or cell. The important thing is that you can write on it.

(On a side note, notepads like napkins and scrap paper are far from ideal for daily to do lists, as they can easily be misplaced.)

Keep a notepad by your bed, in the car, in your pocket, in your backpack. You do not need to use the same notepad for each.

Then—just as important—file it away. If you hate filing, put it in your “pile.” You know the one, where you shove things until you are forced to clean it. And then it never gets clean because you find too many interesting ideas to complete the process.

Don’t let your phenomenal ideas get away—the best ones are the shyest. If you don’t respond to them, they’ll think you aren’t their type. But if you write them down, they may stay around for a second date.

Ironically, I had the idea for this article a few nights ago and forgot it. But, following my own advice, I had written it on my scrap paper. The next day I remembered that I had a phenomenal idea, and I did know where to look for it.