Reading in the bathtub

reading in the bathtub

We never had a shower in the house when I was growing up, but only a bathtub. I know for a fact that my mother never took a shower until the morning of my sister’s funeral in 1995. (She was terrified of it, and I had to talk her through it, from outside the bathroom.)

I take showers most days, because they save time. But on weekends, and during vacations, I take baths.

Baths are lovely and luxurious. You can add salts if you like, but they really only create stains on the porcelain. All you need is hot water – the hotter the better, as hot as you can stand – and a bar of soap.

And a book.

Naturally one reads in the bathtub. I remember Anne Parrish’s comment about her copies of E. F. Benson’s “Lucia” novels being stained by being “dropped into brooks and baths.”

Well, of course we drop them! Our hands are wet as we turn the pages.

This kind of use marks a book. It lets everyone know that it was well-beloved. I have lots of used books, and I can tell you in every case whether or not their previous owners read them lovingly.

Some have marginal notes. Some have greasy spots, probably where crumbs fell while their readers ate. And some have been dunked in water, and then carefully (or not so carefully) dried.

My own books – the books I bought brand-new – reflect this too. Some are pristine. Others are in terrible shape, dog-eared and stained and ragged and broken-spined.

Care to guess which ones are my favorites?


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

4 Responses to Reading in the bathtub

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Bath reading is daily ritual. Thus e-readers have no appeal.

  2. starproms says:

    I love my bath. We only had a shower put in to the cottage about 6 months ago. That was my first shower and I’m only now getting used to it! I don’t read in the bath. I would be in there too long but a bath is a joy. I can still get into mine ok but some of my friends have started saying they take a shower because they can’t get in or out of the bath. So I’m enjoying mine while I still can.
    The adverts over here are showing e-readers with people on holiday, sitting on the side of the swimming pool or on the beach. I’m not sure I would trust mine near water.

    • Another of my e-friends, on the West Coast of the USA, made the same point about e-readers, and I wish I’d thought of it first. Bathtubs make e-readers impossible. Of course, bathtubs are very hard on books in general; I’ve dunked quite a few books.

      I used to hate showers, but I like them now. They’re quick, for one thing; some evenings I just don’t feel like a bath, and a speedy shower is just the trick.

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