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.”


Small goals—underchallenge yourself

Neil Armstrong Moon

Under exaggerate.

Sometimes I feel like I cannot be a real author since real authors have huge goals like 1,000 words every day. I’ve done this before, even developing the habit at times.
I feel envious when I hear of some writers, who top this lofty goal by writing several thousand words in a single day. I did that. Once.
But what about when life steps in?
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What to do while waiting — Part 1


So, you’re a writer now. Congratulations!

But you’re waiting to get published.

What do you do, besides starting the process over by writing another book? What can help you get published? What can lead to sales when the publication finally happens?

Part 1: Create a website, but don’t…

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Get it done already! Why short-term goals are better than long-term goals

File:Crystal Clear app date.png

What’s the biggest project you have ever given up on?
For me, I wanted to make a polyglot Bible, with Hebrew, Greek, and Latin in three columns, marking all major differences. (Yes, I’m a nerd!) Working full time on this, I could have finished in a couple years. Maybe.
The problem? Nobody else wanted this. Worse, I found a computer program that could do this almost as well, a website that could do this with even more languages, and a scholar who already did my exact idea with two of the languages. Bummer.
I realized the importance of first making sure your goal is worth the cost.

But let’s say you know your goal—you want to write a novel. And publish it. And make money from it.
Let’s start with the first of these.

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Why to read what you don’t write: The importance of reading outside your genre


Some authors say they don’t have time to read. That’s like a starving castaway saying he has no time to eat. You’re not that confused, are you?

But maybe you have a similar problem: You have no relationships with books outside your niche. For example, your write youth fantasy and read only youth fantasy. Why is this wrong? There’s a nasty word for families that have relationships only with themselves. Authors who only read their genre may fall into that same category.

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Choosing your audience: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea


“Once upon a time, a publisher asked me if I’d write a novel for teenagers. ‘Oh, no!’ I said. ‘No, thanks very much, but I couldn’t,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin, author of Earthsea.

So almost didn’t begin youth fantasy. Before she wrote Earthsea, there was fantasy like T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, as well as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. But nothing for teens.

What was the problem Le Guin had with writing for teenagers? She wasn’t an unpublished author scared of finally getting a chance–she had already published. And it wasn’t like she was a nonfiction author fearful of going public with a novel–she had already published both science fiction and fantasy.

“It was the idea of writing with a specific audience in mind or a specific age of reader that scared me off.” But after considering it, “I thought about it. Slowly the idea sank in. Would writing for older kids be so different from just writing? Why? Despite what some adults seem to think, teenagers are fully human.”

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