reader survey: what are your favorite bathroom reads?

Ellen Silverman

Ellen Silverman

Bathroom reading is a specialized and very personal genre of literature. I imagine everyone has his/her idea of what passes muster for bathroom reading, what its essential qualities must be. Of the books that have had a place on my makeshift bathroom shelf (a pipe) for some time  - as opposed to magazines or newspapers that come and go- I look for books that I can open anywhere and find something entertaining, illuminating or educational. Proper beginnings and endings don’t matter. A folding aluminum camp stool (yikes!) I bought at the flea market serves as a book stand.

As a way of finding interesting new things to read and share in the unique sensibilities of ‘the improvised life’s readers, I invite you to join in our first reader’s survey. Please take a few minutes to list your favorite bathroom reads in the Comments.

I’ll start with my current line-up (and an excerpt I came across today):
Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art
Chronicles: Volume One
Zen Art for Meditation
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems: 1937-1952
The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2010
T’ai Chi Ch’uan for Health and Self-Defense: Philosophy and Practice (my boyfriend’s; it’s been there for YEARS)
NY Atlas (I think this is out-of-print; the subway info is out-of-date but the maps are GREAT)

“I can’t say when it occurred to me to write my own songs. I couldn’t have come up with anything comparable or halfway close to the folk song lyrics I was singing to define the way I felt about the world. I guess it happens to you by degrees. You just don’t wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs, especially if you’re a singer who has plenty of them and you’re learning more every day. Opportunities may come along for you to convert something — something that exists into something that didn’t yet. That might be the beginning of it…”
–Bob Dylan Chronicles, Volume One

8 Responses to reader survey: what are your favorite bathroom reads?

  1. elizabeth 11.17.2009 at 1:04am #

    I usually read copies of Tricycle Magazine — articles in there that are meant to be picked up and read, sometimes over and over. I also like anthologies — particularly short stories. I’ve been rereading Lorrie Moore in the bathroom. Finally, a good thick book of poetry. I have Donald Hall’s Collected and I love to just read here and there…

  2. andrea 11.17.2009 at 10:38am #

    All bathrooms in my two houses have a copy of The New Yorker open at all times. I can pick it up and go to the precise sentence where I left off, a strange skill I marvel at but haven’t found any other practical use for!

  3. dana joy altman 11.17.2009 at 11:44am #

    The 33 1/3 Classic Album Critique Series. I’m currently reading about the making of Songs In the Key of Life. The books themselves are nice and small and fit on my shelf.

    I also read Pema Chodron in the can.

  4. Susan 11.17.2009 at 6:52pm #

    Catalogues, esp. the ones with “musical toilet paper carousel caddy” type items, IKEA catalogue, Grand & Benedict store display fixtures, thrift store finds esp. how-to’s and “…for Dummies” series on topics I wish I’d learned back in the 60s (algebra, statistics, economics, investing). For storage, just found a Goodwill bookshelf thing to sit on the terlet ledge.

  5. Harriet Bell 11.18.2009 at 10:30am #

    Geez, everyone is so literate. Not here. We have The Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes (Invariably, people come out telling a one-liner like Henny Youngman) and The Food Lover’s Companion.

  6. skabook 11.18.2009 at 4:15pm #

    I’m with Susan – I love reading catalogs on the throne – also, which may gross some of y’all out, I also read cookbooks. Our son, 21, and about to graduate from one of “them Ivy League” schools, keeps atlases. I kept a Celtic daily meditation book there for years, but I had finally memorized the thing, so I lightened up the throne room reading.

  7. susan 11.20.2009 at 3:40am #

    Thanks, skabook, for cookbook revelation. I do too. And atlases… Could there be a compilation effect?

  8. Thunderbelly 11.28.2009 at 2:06pm #

    For the first “visit” of the day: Chinese philosophy.

    For subsequent deposits into the Bank of Porcelain: detective stories, spy novels, The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the day’s mail….

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