Do or Don’t: Magazines in the Bathroom

Do or Don't: Magazines in the Bathroom

We were at our friends’ house the other day when I noticed something funny…

In their guest bathroom, they had a pretty wicker basket with books and magazines. And smack in the middle was the book 401(k)s for Dummies. It made me laugh. How long are people spending in there?!

I know it’s a random question, but I’m curious: Do you have magazines in your bathroom? I know a lot of people do. Something about bathroom reading weirds me out, but Alex says I’m crazy, and maybe he’s right! Thoughts? Do or don’t?

P.S. Caroline’s house tour with a cool bathroom.

(Top photo by Patrick Cline for Lonny)

  1. Lauren Lyons says...

    I’m just seeing this post for the 1st time. I find it beyond gross when someone reads magazines, books, iPads, etc. in the bathroom. I’ve never done it– there are no magazines in my bathroom + never will be. I’m w/ you on this one!

  2. jen says...

    Anyone else remember Seinfeld being grossed out when George took his new magazine into the bathroom and then tried to return it to Jerry? Yeech. I do read in the bathtub, but that is another story, and one that includes a lot of ruined library books.

  3. We have magazines and catalogs in our powder room, I’ve never given it a second thought. Mmmm . . . now I’m wondering about those germs

  4. I love the idea of learning something in the bathroom, but from the walls. Have you read Cheaper by the Dozen? Such a fun old book, and the dad loves to use the most random opportunities to teach his dozen kids. He paints the solar system in the bathroom!

  5. To the posters who are grossed out: Do you all touch your waste products when you use the bathroom or do you think that fecal bacteria is excreted through your fingertips as you do your business?

    As long as you are using TP and not your hands, the germs that land on the reading material are going to end up on the counter, the soap, and your clothing, as well. Do you change your clothes every time you use the bathroom?

    I’m fast, no reading materials needed, but other people have different systems and might as well put the time spent to good use.

    • Meg says...

      I just discovered this post. My mother actually had a beautiful built in magazine rack in her bathroom! She had it custom made. They were displayed out facing. My father reads them in the shower! He takes out the pages and puts them on the wall of the shower (adhered by the water). Obviously this ruins the mags. But about as clean as you can get! :)

  6. I’m a girl! And I’m a fan of bathroom reading! And I’m suprised so few of your are! I don’t think germs are an issue at all with this. When you pick up the mag, your hands are clean and when you put it back down they still are cause you’ve just been sitting there. (I guess it’s the ordering of events that matters…) If you think the germs are just gathering more while the magazine is sitting there, well, germs are everywhere and magazines surely don’t attract them more than toothbrushes, etc.

  7. man, people are uptight. haha. i have never thought a single thing about it, and have definitely never viewed it as “gross.” i’m pretty sure almost every household bathroom i visit keep reading material around. unless you’re taking a dump in what would appear to be a port-a-potty, i find nothing disgusting or weird about it.

    and ladies, don’t pretend like you don’t ever spend time on the toilet. i know you do!

  8. We refer to the bathroom as “the library.” I think that about sums it up.

  9. You know what’s funny? Dutch people hang a birthday calender in their bathroom. So we have one too ;)
    It’s actually quite weird looking at the names while you (well you know). But it really helps to remind my husband of birthday, so I don’t have to mention them a gazillion times :)

  10. Our neighbour used to babysit me when I was a kid. She had a shelf in the bathroom with all sorts of comics and books on it. I discovered Prince Valiant in that loo. I thought it was awesome.

    Although I read in the bathroom, I don’t keep reading material in there. I prefer a minimalist look.

  11. Eww. Absolutely not. I’m a bit particular when it comes to bathroom stuff, though. I notoriously refused to pee in a cup (“Mom, that’s gross!”) when I was hospitalized for a concussion at 5 yrs old and I still have never, ever gone out in nature.

    I suppose I understand wanting to think about something other than what you’re doing, but my goodness, who actually WANTS to spend more time in there than necessary with that going on? I just don’t get it. Get in, get out.

  12. i work in a busy office and sometimes the only quiet break i have is in the bathroom. i sit there and read blogs, browse facebook on my iphone. i may or may not be typing this from….

    hope this doesn’t weird you out. it’s a fact of life!

  13. I don’t get why people think it’s so dirty to have them in there. You store your towels in the bathroom, no? It’s not like people are wiping and then touching the stuff. Usually, you put the magazine/book down and then finish your business.

    We have stuff in our bathroom, and also for the guests, though I prefer the storage that hangs on the wall. Yes everyone knows what goes on in there so why not keep your guests comfortable while they do it too?

  14. Hi Joanna,

    I debated long and hard about whether I should post this comment. And I’ll tell you why: I was one of your early readers, in the days before you got famous. You were also one of my very own first readers, when my blog got started. I watched your blog become successful, and felt incredibly happy for you. I don’t ever begrudge you or any other blogger such success, because I know the hard work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’. However recently, I’ve had to turn away from your blog in disillusionment.

    I don’t think I’m perfect, I’ve probably made a few blogging mistakes along the way. However, like you, I’ve worked (and still work) in the media, and I would never knowingly re-publish previous content without full disclosure. And if I do ever make this mistake, I would offer a full apology and not knowingly repeat it. As a few other commenters have noted here, you’ve previously published this post, word for word, in 2010 on Glamour. Maybe this doesn’t bother some readers, but it bothers me, and I imagine, other people. It’s unethical to do so without disclosure, especially considering you already indicated in a previous post that you won’t do it again. I know many writers working for various media outlets who re-use their own work, or expand upon previous topics, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do it myself too. But when they do so (and when I do so), they are usually required by their employers to state so upfront to their readers, as this is a basic ethical practice. I don’t see why a paid, career blog, run by a professional journalist such as yourself, should be any different. This is not a hobby blog anymore, and I would love you, as a successful blogger, to raise the standards a little bit and treat this career blog professionally. It would be, at the very least, a sign of respect to your readers who have loyally followed you and support this blog.

    However, I have to be realistic and say that I don’t know if you care about what I’m saying here. Or if your readers care either. It’s a shame, but the idealistic side of me felt like I had to make this comment. I hope you and your readers read this comment with an open mind, as I’m not coming from a position of ‘attack’ here. I ultimately want to support bloggers and blogs.

  15. I don’t have magazines in the bathroom now, but that may change once we get a bigger bathroom. I do have a book stored in a set of drawers (and I am the only one reading it). I would keep reading material in a place where it wouldn’t get damp.

  16. totally gross! I would not touch a book in someones bathroom, or bring one in.

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  18. Ha … of course I have magazines in the bathroom, even a quick 120 seconds will get you caught up on your periodicals … have never thought of the germ issue, am at an advanced age, and wildly healthy. My sister is into that “germs in the air” thing in the bathroom and I think it’s just totally nuts.

    xo .. Karen in CT

  19. Oh, I hate bathroom reading, but for completely neurotic, irrational reasons. (Aren’t they always?)

    If I encounter a bathroom magazine, I always turn it face down so the people on the cover aren’t “watching” me pee. It’s creepy! George Clooney does not need to see that.

  20. oh my goodness, i never knew reading material in the water closet may be taboo…we jokingly refer to our bathrooms as the libraries because there are so many books and magazines in there. i don’t understand the germ concern. as emily commented above “You are touching the magazines BEFORE you do any…er… wiping or flushing.” and yes, sometimes you need to be in there a little more than “get in, get out”. or maybe hubby and i just need a little more fiber in our diets

  21. Bleh. I work with all women and at my office there are always magazines on the floor next to the toilet. Usually Glamour, Cosmo, or something of that nature. I think it is really gross. They aren’t even in a basket or anything. I always wonder why spend that much time in the nasty bathroom when we are allowed to read at our desks during downtime? I don’t like it. I don’t have books in the bathroom at my house.

  22. If you have time to read while going No.2, you need more fiber in your diet! Just saying! Also agree with the dirty aspects of having periodicals co-mingling with your toilet.

  23. Do! Doo-doo!!! Living in a small one bedroom, the bathroom is the only other room with a door. It’s sometimes nice to have the extra room to read in for privacy and quiet. Also, regarding the germs where does the madness end? Do you take a shower and change your clothes after you use the bathroom/walk past dog/horse poop too?

  24. I agree with those comments that say that the bathroom is NOT dirty enough to make reading in it gross. You are reading before you even wipe!

    Also – since I’m currently pregnant, unfortunately it takes me a little longer to go than it used to. I think reading is the only thing that helps distract me so that I can go! I welcome the 3-5 minute articles that can accompany me while going!!

  25. Definitely! I come from a long line of bathroom readers. And, honestly, those magazines and books are going to collect just as much germs throughout the rest of your house as in the bathroom. But I can totally understand if the thought of in residence reading material grossing folks out.

  26. h. says...

    Also, the “you posted something like this before” comments are getting annoying.
    As if all the complainers go to work every day and generate wholly unique content or do things completely different to the day before. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!!

  27. I don’t need anything to read while I’m in the bathroom, but I will browse my phone occasionally.

    I had a roommate who would take her laptop in with her and read the news while she was on the toilet! Sometimes for 20 minutes. Haha I thought it was so weird.

  28. I’m all for providing extra reading material wherever you can, but the bathroom just seems icky. I instantly get visions of old men hunched over with a magazing, or even worse a newspaper *shudder*. It’s just not my cup of tea. :)

  29. hahaha, these comments and this post is giving me a midday chuckle. Isn’t it funny how bathroom talk can make us all still giggle?!! I grew up with the books/ikea catalogues/old Hello magazines in a wicker basket – my Mum is British so I’m guessing it’s a more European tradition? It seems that it make be linked to the Romans and their habit on chatting whilst on the loo – Anyways, I don’t have and reading material in my bathroom – the pages yellow and plus it’ll make my husband lock him self in their for ages and get himself out of house duties!!! However on that note, if I ever need a time out from to kids, I do pretend I need to go to the bathroom when really I just need a breather… funny ay?!!

  30. Growing up I never had magazines or books. But when I moved in with my boyfriend and two other (male) friends we had extra shelf space for the comic books.. I think it’s a male thing..
    now, 5years later my boyfriend startet to practice playing the harmonica while being in the bathroom, really strange in my opinion!

  31. Really your magazines/books shouldn’t be germy as long as you close the toilet lid when you flush, and if you don’t do that then you should be more worried about your toothbrush since it goes in your mouth…

  32. Why do you continue to recycle old material without acknowledging it?

  33. Gosh, it never occured to me that reading in the bathroom could be considered as non hygienic!! I do it all the time but I usually bring my book or magazine in with me – there is no staking area in the bathroom.

  34. In high school my boyfriend would disappear into the bathroom with a textbook and stay for as long as 30 minutes. To this day he take a computer in there with him. Now THAT is crazy.

  35. Yes, we always have a few recent magazines in a pretty acrylic holder and we make good use of it. With a baby in the house, it really is the most relaxing, “unguilty” spot where I can catch a few undisturbed minutes to browse mags and relax.

    We used to have pretty vases with fresh flowers and fancy oil bottles where the mags are now but then I realized how wasted/underused that spot was and swapped those for the mags. :)

    I try not to judge but this one gets to me. For the people who say this is a dirty practice: Really?! How dirty IS your bathroom that a book/mag that made it in NEEDS to be trashed? What, do you wipe with it?!!
    Proud to say my bathroom is usually spotless and I don’t see how reading in it would stop one from keeping it clean.

  36. After having children I started reading in the bathroom – that’s the only place I seem to have to myself for a few minutes. Children change us so much. :)

  37. Wow, I was just thinking about this very thing the other day! Growing up we never had magazines or any reading material in the bathroom. But my husband likes to have magazines in there, so we have them in our bathroom now. I remember thinking it was gross at first, but then I got used to them being there. And now we have the habit of just putting magazines of his in there as they come in the mail. The problem is that they start to stack up… the other day I was cleaning the bathroom, noticed the overflowing stack of magazines, and realized that our guests must be totally disgusted thinking about how much time we must spend in there!!


  38. z says...


    As others have pointed out, this post is pretty much a rehash of a 2010 Glamour post.

    What I don’t get is why you haven’t bothered to make any reference to the old post, when you acknowledged the need for it in your apology for the “misstep” in

    The apology rings hollow when you jump straight back into making the same “misstep”.

  39. I’m fairly certain the whole ‘red flagging’ thing is pretty exclusive to men. Forget about the reading material in the bathroom being weird. Let’s talk about the residue possibly left on said reading material. Yuck! I’m a bit of a germaphobe though.

  40. Lol some opinions around this are funny! My hubby spends forever on the loo (which is slightly annoying when it’s only one toilet in the house!), and if my system is moving a bit slow, then it’s nice to have something to do while you’re waiting – and besides, if you shut the lid you shouldn’t have too many problems (and the smell dissipates faster too). I mean, you have toothbrushes, bottles of face cream and deodorant and all sorts of things… just wash your hands and you’re all good! Germs/bacteria find it difficult to live on a magazine page, mostly because they require a surface that stays warm and damp to be able to breed, and they don’t get terribly close to anything that will give it enough time to breed. Things like your phone however can provide nice places for germs to breed, because of its proximity to your face/hair/ear when you use it.

  41. Yes to reading material in the bath area, one of the only changes I get to read at home is in the bath. But no to reading material in the toilet. Get in get out, on need to hang around people.

  42. That is so funny that you wrote about this. I was *just* thinking about it this morning. My husband has been known to finish a novel while on the John. I, on the other hand, only go in there if I have business to take care of. Then I leave. There is no lingering and finishing novels for me.

  43. Funny thing … I think men and reading in the bathroom go together … but women … no. My husband always takes his phone in the bathroom and scrolls through his Twitter feed and totally takes his time. I get in and out quickly. Even when we’re out, and we both go in a public restroom at the same time, I always beat him out.

  44. Absolutely! We have a huge basket full of magazines. There’s a little something for everyone. I often catch my five year old sitting there with a magazine spread out on her lap. It cracks me up!!!

  45. If the loo is in a seperate room, it’s nice to have a read while soaking in the bathtub.

    We have a full bathroom; bathtub, shower, wash area + loo = NO. There is just something irksome about toilets and reading material. Hygiene? Time factor?

  46. We have baskets of magazines in both bathrooms at my parent’s house. It’s the only time anyone has a chance to read them! And my mum and I are both bathtub readers… some of my favourite books are sad and wrinkled because they’ve been dropped in the bath :-)

  47. yeah sure we do! Just a natural thing around here. No biggie :o)

  48. Always! grew up with magazines and gardening books next to the toilet. now I have a plethora of reading material (but only in MY bathroom, not the guest!! I guess I can see how it could be gross . . . maybe something could splatter??

  49. mp says...

    don’t! i just think it’s weird and i have never in my life felt the need or been in the bathroom for a length of time that required reading material – i don’t understand it. not to mention i’m a total germaphobe and i feel like they are just so gross!

  50. I keep my Jcrew catalogues and old magazines in my bathroom. I really like having my space and alone time, so sometimes I just sit in there and chill out away from my fiance. I throw them out every couple of months, and I don’t really care what kind of message that sends to other people. There’s WAY too many other things to worry about than if my guests are creeped out by a magazine. Just don’t touch it then! Plus, I read them before my hands come in contact with anything, *ahem*. And even if there’s germs on the reading material, I always wash my hands before leaving the bathroom, so that problem is taken care of. Actually, I’m more grossed out by the idea that some people AREN’T washing their hands at home!

  51. I was at my little sister’s house last weekend and noticed a children’s book in her bathroom called “Underwear Do’s and Don’ts”…and I thought that was really funny. Then I remembered I gave it to her for Christmas a few years back…and then it was even funnier.

  52. PEOPLE! How can you think reading in the bathroom is weird?! I keep magazines in the bathroom and I always read a bit, even if I am only in there for a few seconds. It’s a lovely escape (especially if you have a baby).

    Also – why is it gross? You are touching the magazines BEFORE you do any…er… wiping or flushing. So I see no problem there.

    Also… if I am at your house and you have no reading material, I will find something to read for sure. Shampoo bottle, lotion bottle…. anything within reach is game!

  53. i really like this map wallpaper.

  54. Sometimes you need to take your mind off of things to let everything….relax?

  55. A definite DON’T for me. Although, it might be fun to do a little social experient. You could put some magazines in there and see who is more likely to be in the bathroom longer hahaha

  56. OMG I didn’t realice about the germs!!! I have a chic basket full of chic magazines in MY GuEST BATHROOM!!!… there is nothing chic about it :-&

  57. I’ll bring something into the bathroom to read with me (as does my husband), but I won’t leave magazines or books there when company come over.

  58. hubs and I just carry our own in if we’re going to be a while. We do keep one book of sudoku puzzles in there. We jokingly call them the “poozles” =)

  59. Funny post- We don’t have a guest bathroom but I was always against any sort of bathroom reading material until I got married. I have to compromise on some things, right? My husband thinks is totally normal to have reading material in there so we have a basket that holds our New York mags and other related reading material. I’ve laid down the rule of- once it’s in there, it stays in there until it’s ready to get tossed. At least he agrees with that!

  60. I’m with you, I find it super weird. Do you really want people to hunker down and stay a while?

  61. I do in the guest bathrooms, but…no. I think it’s gross. Once in the bathroom, they are only for bathroom. I do have a funny book (I can’t remember the exact name) that’s specifically for bathroom reading.

  62. When I want my husband to read an article about raising kids, being more awesome than he already is, or look at something I want to discuss buying, I set it in there for him.

  63. i couldn’t help but laugh at the post, I have a range of material in my bathroom from Bobbi Brown makeups how to’s, to National Geographic Traveler to the actual Bathroom Book series, haha!

  64. Haha love this!
    I used to be okay with it when I was growing up but since living with the BF it’s kinda started to gross me out.
    The funniest part is when one of my magazines go missing I go running to the bathroom and come out saying “baaaaaaaaaabe – come on” , which he replies with a smirk.
    Dang it! now I hide my magazines lol
    -Michelle {LiveLoudly}

  65. Haha, I’m with you! I can’t imagine what the heck people are doing in there that would take so long as to merit reading a book! I’ll take a book in the bathtub with me every once in a blue moon, but it doesn’t really touch anything other than clean hands! But I do take my phone in with me sometimes, which is probably more disgusting as it is closer to my face.

  66. I think it’s don’t! Besides the “cootie” issue, I don’t think toilets are very comfortable so why read a book in there? Leave books and other reading materials for company to curl up with on a comfy couch =)

  67. Ugh, no. I am so not a bathroom reader. I’m trying to “train” my husband to stop doing it, but little success so far.

  68. We totally do! Maybe it’s because I live in a house full of boys, but we all read in the bathroom. I think we probably made it seem okay and normal because books in the bathroom were part of potty training. I guess we just don’t freak out about germs…after all, we do wash our hands and the bathroom is spot cleaned every day. We don’t leave magazines out for guests, but I’m pretty sure our guest bath has a drawer full of Lego magazines my boys have stashed in there:) When my boys were babies, the bathroom was often the only quiet time I had all day. So, yes, I did bring a magazine in with me on occasion!

  69. I have my own bathroom (we’re lucky to have three in our little townhouse) and I keep reading material in there. I found that after I had my daughter, I find my alone time is only unquestioned/uninterrupted if I’m in the bathroom, so I tend to linger. Now, I know this sounds gross, I actually look forward to my little escape. It’s not like I’m having appetizers and wine or anything. I also store my mags up on a shelf away from the toilet. :)

  70. What I do in the bathroom is strictly business, not pleasure, so no, I do not have reading material in my bathrooms. Occasionally I have brought a book in there with me throughout my life, but not recently and not often. I spend as little time in there as possible.

  71. These comments are so fascinating! Books or other reading material in the bathroom are a nice idea- they can be quirky or reference, or entertainment- anything to pass the time when spending a little longer than anticipated in the powder room :) Other people’s bathrooms (*not* their medicine cabinets!) are always interesting to check out. Besides, I’m all for being real and acknowledging something that some call “gross”, and I call something we all do as a natural bodily function. (reminds me of that children’s book, “Everybody Poops” :)

    This is giving me ideas for designing my own bathroom- and I love your makeover photos, Joanna! What a difference!

  72. this is hilarious, why people get so grossed out about magazines in the bathroom, you keep your tooth brush in there too don’t you?

  73. So glad I’m not the only one weirded out by this. I just really don’t think reading material belongs in the bathroom… but obviously this is a personal thing! I don’t care if other people do it. Although, I agree with other commenters that it puts that mental image in your head, haha.

  74. My parents and brothers always had magazines and books in their bathrooms, but never the guest bathroom. I always just thought it was normal for people to read in there every once in a while. Haha what’s wrong with multitasking? :)

  75. maybe try kombucha ;) haha

  76. I’ve seen people commenting about correlations between super anal people who dislike magazines and books in bathrooms and being uncomfortable with their bodies and such – I love my body, have no shame of talking about these things or of being naked – I don’t care about these things. :) I don’t have to “get away” from my natural functions as soon as possible – it just simply takes me like 20 seconds to do my business and I’m certainly not gonna hang around afterwards haha

  77. this is so funny! my husband is outraged by magazines in the bathroom. it doesn’t bother me, but it is like the biggest deal in the world to him. i can’t wait to show him this!

    kelly of

  78. I’m never in there long enough to read. My future hubby, though, enjoys it. It doesn’t bother me. I figure as long as you put it down between wiping and washing your hands, there’s no harm!

  79. Definitely some more Puritanical commenters here than I am.. I don’t personally keep reading material in the bathroom, but I get a kick out of it when others do (and I will usually settle down to read for a few minutes even though I’m done using the restroom.) A funny friend of my mom’s used to keep the book Everyone Poops in her bathroom, which always cracked me up.

  80. I have to be honest…I am not a fan. That said, my husband walks out of the bathroom with MY magazines and I want to kill him! REALLY? Once in the bathroom, they should not be allowed out! Just a thought.

  81. My husband use to work in an office of about 5 other people (all women) once or twice I used their office bathroom and noticed there was a big stack of books mostly daily inspiration type stuff (specifically geared towards women). I thought this was weird. Do whatever at home but should you really be getting that settled in at work?

  82. H says...

    I do not keep reading material in my bathroom simply because I find it embarrassing! Living by myself though, I tend to have a lot of weird habits that I don’t notice until my friends point out. For example, the other night my friend said, “So are you reading like seven different books right now? Because you have like seven books scattered throughout every room and each one has a little bookmark tucked halfway in.” My house is littered with books but I hadn’t even realized that I was currently reading that many, or that I had spread them out in every room! Every room except the bathroom…haha (:

  83. LOL. Joanna, what a funny topic. Our bathroom in our apartment is too small to keep reading material in there but as someone who gets a little anxious sitting still for more than a minute, I wouldn’t mind reading material in a guest bathroom XD Also, is it really that unhygienic? We keep our toothbrushes in the bathroom, after all.

    Also, my father used to keep a little handheld electronic yahtzee game in his bathroom. Maybe that is too far, but I agree with other posters–I think it might be a man thing!

    One more thing, did you know there is actually a “bathroom reader” book? I can’t remember where I saw this, but it’s kind of hilarious.