June is National Bathroom Reading Month
posted june 1, 2017
According to the good folks over at Portable Press (publisher of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series), June is National Bathroom Reading Month. With that in mind, we’re pleased to welcome you to our first post in what we plan to make a regular series on the topic of bathroom reading.
Most of our posts in this series will highlight specific reading material that you may want to consider adding to your bathroom’s library, as well as tips for creating an area for just such a collection. In this first post, however, we tackle the topic of bathroom reading in general and ask you to participate in a survey to help us gauge the percentage of people who regularly engage in bathroom reading. (Sudoku and other print-based forms of entertainment and amusement count, as well.)
Bathroom reading is as American as apple pie. Just ask George Costanza, the Seinfeld character who, during the 1998 “The Bookstore” episode, was forced to buy a book he had taken with him into a Brentano’s bathroom presumably to read while doing his business. In that episode, he even tries to justify his transgression by claiming “They’re selling coffee, bran muffins . . . you’re surrounded by reading material. It’s entrapment!”
Whether you’re sitting or squatting to poop, having some reading material within convenient reach may improve the bathroom experience. Reading is a distraction that enables you to relax while alleviating the boredom of solitary confinement and taking your mind off a task you probably don’t want to think too much about.
Does reading on the toilet help you poop?
The answer to the question of whether reading on the toilet helps you poop is still up for debate. According to one study, “Toilet reading habits in Israeli adults,” about 53 percent of adults engage in toilet reading, and while most of the toilet reading group considered themselves to be less constipated (8 percent compared to 13.7 percent of the non-toilet reading group), they reported a greater incidence of hemorrhoids (23.6 percent compared with 18.2 percent of the non-toilet reading group). According to the researchers who conducted the study, these differences were “not significant,” and they concluded that “toilet reading is a common and benign habit,” engaged in primarily because it enriches the bathroom experience and not to solve a medical problem.
Is reading on the toilet less hygienic?
Many of those who don’t read on the pot find the practice disgusting. After all, keeping a basket of reading material too close to the bowl increases the risk of splash out from the bowl (or poor aim) contaminating the pages and the possibility of someone handling the reading material after wiping but before washing their hands. Ick!
How gross it is to read on the toilet is a matter of other hygiene habits and a matter of opinion, but at least one hygiene expert, Dr. Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine, and a self-confessed toilet reader, is of the opinion that the increased risk of infection from toilet reading is slim. According to Curtis, you “don’t need to get anal about it” (see “Is reading on the loo bad for you,” by Ian Sample, reporter for The Guardian for more of Curtis’ thoughts).
According to Curtis, microbes don’t live very long on absorbent materials, such as the pages of newspapers and books, but they can survive much longer on shiny, smooth surfaces, such as book covers, cellphone screens, and the covers and pages of magazines. To reduce the threat, keep your reading materials as far from the toilet as possible and wash your hands thoroughly after doing your business and after handling any reading material, whether it’s in printed or electronic form. You may also want to consider cleaning your cell phone screen regularly.
Take the survey
According to the study mentioned earlier in this post, about 53 percent of the population (64 percent of the men and 41 percent of the women) reads while pooping. This estimate is based on reports from 500 adults representing diverse demographic backgrounds. We’re conducting our own independent survey. Please help us by answering the following question:
Regardless of whether you choose to answer our survey question (we really hope you do), we’d like to know what you think. Do you consider the practice of reading on the toilet acceptable, repugnant, or somewhere in between? If you’re a toilet reader, do you think it helps you poop? If you see reading material placed within reach of a toilet, do you think “That’s disgusting!”?
By the way, you may want to bookmark this page, so you can easily return to it later to check the survey results and comments… whether you’re sitting at your desk, lounging around your home, or perched on your porcelain throne.