Sunday Salon: Bathroom books

The Sunday SalonWe all have bathroom books, don’t we? I don’t mean books to read in the bath – for me, that’s all books except the three Bs: big, beautiful or borrowed books. No, I mean books for reading on the loo.

Perhaps you have a stack of magazines in the bathroom (we have those too, but they’re all months out of date). Or perhaps you just take your phone or tablet in these days. We have a collection of non-fiction titles ideal for dipping into, but today I spotted that it had been more than a year since their last update, and they were gathering dust, so I did a swap (and wiped off the dust from the outgoing titles).


The old bathroom books are:

1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think edited by Robert Arp
From the same series that gave us 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, this book seems interesting at first glance but is kinda flawed. It lists human “ideas” chronologically, from “human control of fire” (c. 1,600,000 BCE, Homo erectus) to “water power” (c. 300 BCE, Hellenistic Greece) to “commercial space flight (2012, Space X and Virgin Galactic). With each item getting only half a page of text, the explanations are inevitably simplistic, but it was a welcome reminder of how much of modern life has roots thousands of years old.

The Literary Almanac: the Best of the Printed Word 1900 to the Present
The “present” in this book’s title is 1997, but it’s an almanac so its facts don’t change. It lists the winners of major literary awards, bestsellers, author births and deaths, with one or two notable authors profiled per year. This is an American book, but the selected authors are reasonably international. I like seeing which of the bestsellers and prizewinners have stood the test of time (i.e. whether I’ve heard of them).

Men and Dogs by Judith Watt and Peter Dyer
Ronseal-style, photos of men and dogs, with a little bit of text about each one. Some of them are famous men, some are famous dogs, some are notable photos. It’s ridiculous that this even exists and I love it.

Speeches That Changed the World compiled by Cathy Lowne
I hadn’t looked inside this book for a long time before today, and I’d forgotten that it’s actually fairly good. The concept of a “speech” is stretched quite wide – it includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Bob Geldof’s “Give me the fucking money” line from Band Aid 1985 – but that’s no bad thing. For such a small book it’s pretty international. I should flick through and check if I’ve read it all yet!


The new bathroom books are:

What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
An offshoot of Munroe’s excellent xkcd blog, his What If blog is a little more text-heavy but still includes his familiar stick-figure drawings and sense of humour. And proper science.

Photo Idea Index by Jim Krause
One idea per page – it could be a concept, a subject, a method, a style. Ideal for people like Tim and me who enjoy photography but seem these days to only take photos when we go on holiday.

The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive by John Graham-Cumming
Another Ronseal one: a world atlas of geeky tourist spots. I’ve been meaning to have a look through this and always forget it’s on our shelf, so maybe now I’ll actually open it.

Men and Dogs by Judith Watt and Peter Dyer
Because, come on! I couldn’t hide this one away. It will forever live in our bathroom.


Go on: share with us. What books do you keep in your bathroom?