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101 Books Guide To Public Restroom Reading Etiquette

After discussing today’s topic with some friends at work, I’ve realized this is a mostly male issue—that of reading in public restrooms. Apparently, women don’t do much of this.

But, hopefully, today’s post will appeal to both guys and girls. For guys, I hope to help establish some guidelines for reading in public restrooms—what do you read, where exactly you read it, and what is considered off limits.

For ladies, I hope to help you understand—not that you’re asking—the dark underbelly of men’s restrooms and the reading intricacies that take place therein. Hopefully, the potty humor in today’s post isn’t too much…pun intended.

So with the preliminaries out of the way, I now present to you the 101 Books Guide To Public Restroom Reading Etiquette:

Avoid the hanging newspaper. It’s tempting, sure. You’ve entered a stall without reading material, and there on the handrail hangs today’s sport section. Oh look! you think, as your eye catches a headline about Tom Brady’s new haircut.

But wait a minute! Do not touch that hanging newspaper. Just ten minutes ago, a man sat on the very seat you are now spraying with anti-bacterial soap, doing the unspeakable, while reading that same story about Tom Brady’s haircut. Do you realize where that newspaper has been?

Please, no community reading material. You know those magazines at the doctor’s office? The books in the breakroom at work? Once they’ve been taken into any restroom, they’ve been tainted. If you have the nerve to transport these public reading documents into a water closet, then just do us all a favor and leave them there.

In fact, let’s just make a rule right here: All community reading material needs a 25 foot clearance from any public restroom door. I think that’s fair.

Urinal reading is strictly prohibited. Look, you’re only there 30 seconds. Can you not wait two minutes to find out whether Snape actually killed Dumbledore? And this goes for you, Mr. Compulsive iPhone Checker. You know what it looks like when you’re checking email on your iPhone while using a urinal? It looks like you’re taking a picture.

Do you really want your coworkers to think you are Brett Favreing yourself? Come on! That said, ads above urinals—as often displayed in restrooms at stadiums, bars, restaraunts, etc—are acceptable. Just keep the iPhone (I said “iPhone”!) in the pocket, okay?

The only thing you should be sitting on while reading in a bookstore is the plush chairs. While in college, I worked part-time at a Barnes & Noble. Part of my job was to get there early, about an hour before the store opened, and shelve as many new books as possible before customers arrived.

On many an occasion, I wandered into the men’s restroom to find some questionable reading material—books of a sexual nature—left inside the stalls from the night before. I think I used cleaning gloves and an entire roll of toilet paper just to remove those books from the restroom floor. Friends, that’s just nasty. Please don’t leave your friendly bookstore workers to deal with the aftermath of such a horrid scene.

Large books taken into restrooms make a statement. If you’re carrying War and Peace into the restroom at work, here’s what you’re saying: “Guys, I’m going to be here a while.” You might as well put up a flashing NO VACANCY sign on the stall door. Large novels in restrooms are an indicator that you mean business, in more ways than one.

What happens in the stall, stays in the stall. Here’s the deal. Whatever you read inside the public restroom stall…that’s your prerogative. The world simply asks that you make sure whatever you take inside those 4 walls is yours. Make sure it enters and exits the stall with you, and that you personally own it.

Take your man purse or bookbag in there with all your literary needs–whether it’s your phone, your newspaper, or Catch 22. Just keep that junk to yourself.

***

Is all that fair enough? Am I asking too much here?

I think Western culture would make one giant step forward if we could simply obey some of these simple bathroom reading etiquette rules.

Would you add any rules to this list? Or would you simply call me crazy for thinking of such things and call it a day? Do share.

(Image: markhillary/Flickr)

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21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matt #

    Brett Favreing yourself? Funny!

    Like

    July 13, 2012
  2. I did not know there was such a phenomenon – reading in a public restroom– funny post but also disconcerting

    Like

    July 13, 2012
    • Yeah, I think it’s definitely more of a guy thing. Believe me, it happens more than you think.

      Like

      July 13, 2012
  3. I agree, best line: “You know what it looks like when you’re checking email on your iPhone while using a urinal? It looks like you’re taking a picture.”

    I mean I support most people doing what they want, but it’s really kind of creepy.

    Like

    July 13, 2012
  4. Siuon #

    This is definitely the funniest post I ever read in this blog, even funnier than the search word series.

    Like

    July 13, 2012
    • Awesome! I’m glad someone gets my strange sense of humor.

      Like

      July 13, 2012
  5. There’s a whole new world out there that’s for sure. I’m not sure it’s so usual in the UK, maybe our public loos are simply colder and less comfy? A question for you 50 shades of grey (apparently an erotic novel) is going down a storm in the UK, even no-readers are buying it, it sounds creepy to me – is that a good enough reason not to read a book (in or not in a public restroom)? Nicola

    Like

    July 13, 2012
  6. People really read in public restrooms? I had no idea.

    Like

    July 13, 2012
  7. ablative #

    I once visited a friend’s house and they had a whole stack of Readers Digest next to the throne. I’ve never been able to look at that magazine since without thinking of bodily functions.

    Like

    July 14, 2012
  8. given the condition of many public restrooms, it’s beyond my comprehension why anyone would want to linger there longer than necessary.

    Like

    July 14, 2012
  9. Well I learned something new today!

    Like

    July 14, 2012
  10. Reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where George(?) takes an expensive art book into the restroom, only to have it ‘flagged’…

    Like

    July 14, 2012
    • Great call. I’m actually posting about that episode on Monday!

      Like

      July 14, 2012
  11. I did once come across a telephone book in a Spanish WC – some 12 years ago. It was needed. Other than that – its as appropriate as playing football between the facilities and the washbasin.

    Like

    July 14, 2012
  12. Public bathrooms? No. My own bathroom? ALWAYS.

    Like

    July 16, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Seinfeld’s Take On Reading in Public Restrooms | 101 Books
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