When I was a little kid, my grandmother, who was also a book fiend, had a joke book she kept in her bathroom. Entitled Jokes for the John, this book was, in my considered opinion, the finest collection of humour writing of all time. Not only the jokes, but also the concept that there could be a book especially designed for reading while on the toilet... well, it cracked my nine-year-old shit up.
These days, I no longer find the idea of books in bathrooms laugh-out-loud funny, and my toilet is home to a precarious stack of books and magazines that threatens to spill over and scare the bejeebus out of anyone who jostles it disrespectfully during a nocturnal visit to the can.
With the idea that you can tell a lot about people not just by looking at their shelves where they keep books neatly arranged for public digestion, but by assessing the more intimate collections they keep in places like their bedside table or their car or, of course, their bathroom, I offer my loo-brary for your inspection:
Beyond the Far Side
I know that Far Side comics are probably passé and all you youngfolk out there are saying to yourselves, "Gary who?" but every bathroom needs to have at least one collection of dated comics, and this is mine. So there.
Visual Power: Sex
Every bathroom also needs to have one book that's full of just plain weird, freaky-deaky arty words and pictures that you don't quite understand. I find this Eurotrashy collection of faux-philosophical writing paired with disturbing semi-pornographic imagery both compelling and repellent, depending which page I'm on. I can't tell if the publishers are poseurs or parodists, which is probably a sign of brilliance. This book fulfills the requirement of any decent loo-brary to house at least one book that makes you go, "What the fuck?"
Just Give'r: A Handguide by Terry & Dean
Every toilet worth its salt houses at least one book you wouldn't be caught reading outside the bathroom. In our house, this shame read is Terry and Dean's (of Fubar fame) illustrated guide to givin' 'er, a surprisingly handy little manual with instructions on everything from having sex in a canoe ("one of the hardest things a man can do") to giving presentations in school ("you're allowed to suck if you go first") to surviving a sandstorm ("try and locate a camel"). If you haven't seen Fubar (yet, because you're going to rent it tonight), you can still enjoy this book, but it won't be the same.
A hallmark of any premiere bathroom literature is its ability to yield new riches with each perusal, no matter how many months or years it has graced its porcelain shelf. This is what separates the timeless classics from the passing fads. This is Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from around the World. Based on the website and zine of the same name, this collection is the best of the best of Found's... er... findings. We've had it for a year and a half, and just when I think I've exhausted its possibilities, it shows me something new. It's a bathroom miracle.
The Onion: Ad Nauseum
See above re: Found. You just can't go wrong with an Onion anthology, though for my money a better bet is Our Dumb Century. We don't own that one, so I have to go to Rizzo and the Baco-Vegetarian's bathroom to enjoy it. That's okay. It gets me out of the house.
So there you have it. My most private (or... are they? Bwahaha!) reading habits. You were expecting the collected letters of John Cheever, perhaps? Now 'fess up. What's in your loo-brary?