According to the National Association for Continence, over half of America reads in the bathroom. I am one of them. Millions celebrate National Bathroom Reading Week in June of each year. I, again, am one of them. I am not Marquis de Sade, who wrote "The 120 Days of Sodom" on a forty foot roll of toilet paper, and I am not Lord Chesterfield, who urged his son to carry a cheap copy of the Latin poets for more practical purposes ( I feel a certain sympathy for the lesser-liked poets of the sixteenth century). Still, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the toilet.
The toilet is a place to meditate, to think, and to read great books. I would not be acquainted with the poetry of Robert Hass, Donald Hall, or David St. John if it were not for the commode. I would not admire Kurt Vonnegut or George Saunders. I would not be familiar with current events or world happenings. The toilet has been an essential component of my education - perhaps the best teacher I have ever had.
I befriended the the toilet at a young age, following the precedent set by my father, whose bathroom library was larger than the office libraries of most families. I learned not to dog-ear the pages of my father's pulp science fiction and pop psychology books. I began to accumulate my own collection of bathroom books, a mixture of Dr. Seuss, "Ranger Rick Magazine." and Choose Your Own Adventure books.
The toilet was there for me when I was too sick to go to elementary school. I'd stay home, crying because of my fear of vomiting, chin on the lip of the toilet. We'd bond for hours this way. I would pray to be spared from vomiting, and the toilet would sit silently, steadfastly. I would kneel beside it, devouring The Hardy Boys and the Boxcar Children, until I felt it safe enough to return to the less secure environment of my room
Later, the toilet assumed a role of even more importance. My list of required reading became a list of bathroom reading, and I would keep the books in the bathroom, organized neatly on the counter. I would read the biographies of our Presidents, the poetry of the Romantics, the late night scrawls of the Beats. It was with the toilet that I made life-changing decisions about which colleges I wanted to apply to. It was there that I studied for the SAT, though, admittedly, far too little. It was with the toilet that I proofread my essays (not the one you are holding now, rest assuredly).
I do read outside of the bathroom, quite frequently, but never with the same vigor. There is something about the sterility of the environment that is conducive to reading. The white tiles and white cabinets are like empty pages, and they urge me read those filled with type and ink and meaning. The toilet is a place to be alone, and the best reading is done in solitude. Toilets are a gateway to reading, to learning. Ultimately, they are the key to knowledge, porcelain thrones from which man can conquer ignorance.