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Why do Some People Read in the Bathroom?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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Where would many of us be without the sanctity of our own private 24 hour reading room? People read in the bathroom for any number of reasons, including the guarantee of privacy, a considerable amount of downtime and the lack of external distractions. Unless the current occupant happened to have won a hot dog eating contest the previous day, however, it's unlikely he or she will be reading Tolstoy's "War and Peace" from cover to cover. It's more likely that the reading material of choice might be a newspaper, a general interest magazine or a comic book.

One reason some people read in the bathroom is because it is one of the few rooms in the home where privacy is routinely respected. A child may burst into a parent's bedroom unannounced, or a spouse may share time in a den or living room, but the bathroom is generally considered the home's Fortress of Solitude. It would not be unusual for a person to spend a substantial amount of time behind the bathroom's locked door, and doing a little lightweight reading while otherwise engaged shouldn't raise too many warning flags.

As we all know, there can be some considerable downtime during an average trip to the bathroom. Using the telephone seems contra-indicated given the circumstances, and watching television or a movie can come off as a bit too self-indulgent. This would appear to leave reading as the most viable time-killing option for long-term bathroom occupants. In fact, there are a number of publications appropriately called bathroom readers which specifically caters to that captive audience who tends to read while in the bathroom. Bathroom readers usually contain short articles of general interest, jokes, puzzles and other quick reads.

Some people have been known to read in the bathroom even without the usual gastrointestinal motivation. The bathroom provides an atmosphere free of external distractions such as blaring televisions, loud stereos, rambunctious children and ringing telephones. Some people may prefer to read in the bathroom rather than disturb their spouses with a bedroom reading lamp late at night. In fact, it is not unusual to find filled magazine and book racks in many people's bathrooms.

In a classic episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, a bookstore refuses to give George Costanza (Jason Alexander) a refund because their sensors indicated the book had been in a bathroom before its return to the store. In the movie The Big Chill, one character, a freelance journalist, complains that his contributions to a mainstream pop culture magazine were only supposed to last as long as an average trip to the bathroom. Many people have proven his theory correct time and time again since then.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon328943 — On Apr 06, 2013

Students can try reading in bathroom. What they fail to understand outside, they may inside. They can write the subject in one word notes in columns and read or glance at it there. It helps to understand and memorize. It points towards solutions to problems.

I give this advice to students in many schools and colleges. They can test it and reject if it doesn't work.

By anon127961 — On Nov 18, 2010

Apparently everyone but me has more than 1 bathroom in their house. I despise bathroom reading. My roommate does it all the time, to the tune of 30-40 minutes at a time. Without fail I, or one of the other three people living here, need the room. Why even bother going into the room unless you have to go? Your body will tell you when it is time. Enter, do your thing, leave. Few minutes tops. Reading in there too inconsiderate for words.

By pinkykny — On Apr 27, 2010

is there a name for those who read in the bathroom?

By penny78 — On Sep 27, 2008

Funny thing about bathrooms being so peaceful. The toilet is the most comfortable seat in my apartment, and when a quick in and out isn't possible, it's nice to have something to read. Truth be told, I don't always intend to leave out right away, so I bring a book or catalog in with me. Reading or not, I've had thoughts of God and The Angels creep into my head during these peaceful moments, and I think to myself, "No way! I'm not thinking about Them while on the toilet." Occasionally, problems come to mind and are resolved by the time I snatch off a couple feet of Scot tissue. Hell,I've even fallen asleep a few times! And I know I'm not the only one...

By olittlewood — On Dec 31, 2007

yes! with three little kids, it is the ONLY place i can read these days. still, they ignore the closed, locked door and think that if they keep knocking, i will let them in. i'll have to tell them that it's my "fortress of solitude!"

this human predilection to read in the bathroom has just recently paid off--my 3 year old daughter who has up until now been a potty training hold out finally went #2 when i gave her a book to pass the time on the toilet! it's been four days now, she's gone #2 every day "in the potty," and the bathroom is turning into a regular children's book section of the library!

By Illuminate — On Dec 31, 2007

I had to smile when I read the topic for discussion. It is a running joke in our family about what is selected as reading material and how long one plans on being in the bathroom. My 8 year old grandson has picked up the habit from his father. The reason I read is that it helps me to relax. You would be surprised what you can learn in just ten short minutes.

By MSeif — On Dec 31, 2007

Interesting article!!

You may consider another reason beside killing time and being away from any distrubance, is that your mind becomes clear in the bathroom. That's why many people tend to find solutions to many of their problems in the bathroom.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick

As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
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