Private Possessions

Naked with only a book. The brass door knob clicks as the solid plane of oak seals the man inside the claustrophobic room. He unfastens his belt, dropping his pants and underwear. The pale cheeks of the entrepreneur’s bottom affix to the chilled toilet seat. His body squirms for a few seconds until he achieves a position of comfort, where he proceeds to “take care of business”. After undergoing several difficult movements, he decides to place his mind on something more worthwhile.

Barring his feet from kicking the wall is a wooden magazine rack which contains several books, periodicals, and magazines. Plucking a newsletter out of the rack like a feather, the constipated man concentrates on an article describing the differences of client-side scripting and server-side scripting. In normal instances, the material in this newsletter would be nothing more than nonsensical techno-jargon, incomprehensible to this man. However, within the walls of the solitary bathroom, he eagerly reads one line after the next, as if the text has made some important impact on his life. After a few minutes, he finishes his business and tosses the reading material back into the rack, not forgetting to wash his hands before leaving.

Lots of people in the world like to read while going to the bathroom. It is quite common for a rabid sports fan to take the newspaper and read about football, as would a businesswoman browse over the stock quotes, and the average politician read the opinion polls on their performance.

But what about the rack which contains the various books which have been deemed fit for bathroom use only. Unlike the common corporate or public restrooms which require users to provide their own reading material, the private bathrooms in our homes and residences seem to provide almost a full library for whoever’s on top of the potty seat. These books or magazines are usually never new or recent, not even to the same year, but are commonly the publications which nobody gets around to throwing away. It is somewhat funny that the bathroom toilet serves at disposing waste, while the bathroom rack serves at accumulating it.

After studying the books that people read while in the bathroom, the content and nature of the books, the age of the books, and the overall use of the books, I have constructed a list of principles concerning these books; called The Laws of Bathroom Books.

Law 1: For a printed publication to receive the honorable title of “bathroom book”, it must first be purchased at any location as a new publication or new reprint. Books that are purchased as used or magazines received from a friend will never enter the bathroom. These books are destined for the trash, where they belong, leaving the buyer as a fool for purchasing this worthless material in the first place.

Law 2: Any printed publication exceeding a retail value of $40.00 may never become a “bathroom book”. The purpose of this law is because the value of most books scale appropriately with their monetary value. Nobody in their right mind goes out and forks over a hundred dollars for a book that they’re going to read while on the throne. A collection of rare novels or an expensive art book should never be placed in the bathroom rack, nor should even enter the bathroom in the first place.

Law 3: Any printed publication that weights too much for lap reading cannot be qualified as a “bathroom book”. Most bathroom readings are done while sitting on the toilet. Thus it is preferred that the publication be relatively small and lightweight. A large encyclopedia or technical manual pressing on the reader’s lap will make the reader quite uncomfortable, possibly causing minor genital damage.

Law 4: Any printed publication still retaining more than 95% of it’s total pages cannot be qualified as a “bathroom book”. Most book readers will discover that a chapter may end abruptly with no explanation, because pages 83-96 have been mysteriously torn out. Missing pages are essential for “bathroom books” since they will often leave the reader clueless and frustrated, making the common bowel movement even more strenuous.

Law 5: All “bathroom books” must be without purpose, obsolete, and meaningless. Who wants to read about computer networking, aquarium sanitation, or medieval pottery? No one, unless you’re going to the bathroom. The main reason that these books have been left to rot in the bathroom is because the original readers were motivated enough to bring the book in, but not enough to take it back out. Whether it is the cause of a bad plot, uninteresting topic, or flawed binding, these “bathroom books” lack the high status of normal publications. Law 4 usually compliments Law 5.

These are the books, novels, manuals, magazines, newsletters, pamphlets, and essays that most people will find in their local restroom. They never serve. They never die. They sit and wait for a potential reader, who, forced with no better alternatives, will sit back, relax, and start from page 12. Like nuclear weapons, the “bathroom books” are perpetually stockpiled, serve no positive potential, and cannot be easily disposed of. Unlike all other things in our restrooms, they remain. We sit there intimately naked with only a book to read.