Reading in the Bathtub

The perils of reading in the tub…..

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

IMG_1041Fortunately, I was able to save and dry the book (it’s just significantly larger than its orginal state!).


MIT Professor Jerome Lettvin also enjoyed reading in his bath (he famously spent hours reading in the tub):

image from

image from


Kate Moss shows us a unique position for enjoying a book in the bath:

photographer: Sante D’Oraziofrom:

photographer: Sante D’Orazio


Dalton Trumbo wrote, and presumably read and edited, his screenplays in his bathtub so often that there’s a statue commemorating his lengthy soaks:

DVD cover "Trumbo" from

DVD cover “Trumbo” from


photo by Andrew Gulliford


But, as Marat would tell you if he could, beware of writing in the bathtub….

"La Mort de Marat" (The death of Marat) by Jacques-Louis David,photo from

“La Mort de Marat” (The death of Marat) by Jacques-Louis David,
photo from


And, of course, Winston Churchill famously enjoyed reading in the bathtub, but, alas, I have no photographs of him bathing to share with you!









110 thoughts on “Reading in the Bathtub

    • Ah, poor Sherlock Holmes!

      I’ve only dropped a book in the tub once before but last time it barely touched the water as it was a lighter book. This time it really fell in, hahaha!

  1. Gutted about the lack of old dog Churchill photos but the Kate Moss makes up for it. I feel you pain with dropping your book, they are surprisingly hardy for paper things though. A kindle wouldn’t be able to hack water.

    • What a shame I couldn’t find a photo of Churchill in the tub, right? 🙂 Especially as there are so many stories of him there. But I’m glad you liked the Kate Moss one!

      It’s true that one would think that paper would soak right through and quite quickly but once the book dried out it survived quite well. The spine did get a bit wet, unfortunately, so I’ll have to be careful with any rereadings, but now it will hold a special place in my heart!

  2. I love all these pics (apart from the damaged book – oh dear, it looks like it took a big nose dive!) I’ve never read in the bath, but now you’ve mentioned it…hmmm…not a bad idea 😀

    • Oh, you must try it; it is quite lovely and in all my years of bath reading, I’ve only dropped a book in the water twice so you don’t have to worry, it rarely happens 🙂

  3. I am an avid bath taker (is that TMI?) and have rescued more than one wrinkly book from a watery grave. The latest was (alas) a library book that had a section fall out of it and into the water (the binding was broken). The library staff were gracious about it, especially since I was able to dry the pages fairly flat. I don’t think it’s the first time they’ve dealt with that story.

    • A library book, oh dear! That’s good that you were able to get it nice and flat (and that they were so understanding!). You’re right, they must be used to books coming back in all sorts of conditions!

  4. Wonderful, glorious post!! It’s so lovely when you can see the idea that inspired the writing – what started off as an accident, inspired a whole blog entry. Your poor book – but lucky it wasn’t a kindle as it would never have survived.

  5. Ha…great topic! So, I love baths and I love reading, but doing them together has never floated my boat. : )

    I tried it once, but I was paranoid about dropping my beloved book in the water. (I hope yours is recovering!) Due to my clumsy nature, the Kindle shall never join me in the tub.

    That’s too bad you couldn’t find a Churchill reading in the bath shot. I’ve always had a thing for him.

    • ‘floated my boat’ 🙂 perfect!

      I find reading in the bath so relaxing but if I was worried that the book (or Kindle, even worse!) was going to fall in, it wouldn’t be relaxing at all! Fortunately, this is only the second time this has happened to me 🙂

  6. Ugh. I remember dousing one of my favorite reads, “Life of Pi” at the end of a long day. I was begging for such a thing, I guess. I worked up a hot bath and a healthy glass of red. Live and learn.

  7. Your book doesn’t look too damaged fortunately. I never mastered the bath tub reading technique myself. Tried several times, after 15 min either feel cold, or uncomfortable trying to prevent the book from falling into the water.
    But with paraphernalia the likes of Dalton Trumbo’s one should be safe from book dropping. Bookshops could also start selling reading-in-the-tub kits.

    • Fortunately, my book survived (the pages are still swollen and wavy and the spine is quite delicate, but that’s ok).

      I always add a little hot water after some time but I don’t spend hours reading in the tub like these other readers; a chapter or two is enough. I’ve tried the bath bookstands but didn’t really like using them so I just keep my hands out of the water (the key is not to fill the tub too much!).

  8. What a great succession of people reading in their bath! Pictures of happiness and relaxation..! I can relate to them!
    I really liked all the comments you got with this blog!!!

  9. What a fun post. I think we start the book reading in the bath tub habit when we are very young. Do you remember when bath time was full of toys and bubbles and those little floatie washable books? We encourage children to read in the bath from a very young age.

    • You’re so right! Bath time reading does start as a child. And it is associated with toys and playtime, something we should always remember. What a wonderful insight.

  10. Hilarious post! I’m thinking that smaller books may be easier to hold without dropping. But then I don’t have experience with this. I hate reading in the tub, possibly because I hate taking baths. My limited patience allows only for 5 minute showers–unless I’m chilled. Then I’ll allow an extra 5 minutes with the water set to “lobster.” I’ll bet a reference librarian could find a photo of Churchill in the bath, or maybe not. Thanks for giving me a grin this evening.

    • “Lobster”! That’s so funny. They should inscribe that on the dial! I’ve only dropped two books in the tub my whole life (and the one barely touched the water) so it’s easy to keep them out of the water except for the rare exception. You’re right though, I think the heaviness of book may have played a part.

  11. Not only the book gets wrinkled, but my hands and feet get wrinkled too. Then you have to keep adding more hot water… then your arm gets cold as you lift it out of the water to turn a page and the water runs down your arm … now I stick to reading in bed with my electric blanket on….!!!

    • You made it sound like a form of torture rather than relaxation; that really made me laugh. I think you just need to start with less water in the tub and just read a chapter. Long readings are better for the bed or the sofa, you’re right!

  12. Let me get a tub first, and then I will share the experience 😉
    Never, not in this life time, would I have even thought of trying to find out about what Churchill did in bathroom 😛 Thanks to you, now I know !

    Enough poor jokes 🙂

    Its intriguing to see how people have a unique spot of sorts- tubs, or some secret getaways- where they are able to focus more than the rest of the places. Its like the ‘ Neverland ‘ Mr J.M. Barrie talked about…
    On a personal note, I guess I am comfortable on my study table, in a dark room with table lamp on.

  13. And after you put a water damaged book in the freezer, you can sandwich it between two encyclopedias or similarly thick/heavy books. Take it out when it’s nearly dry, and then blast a hairdryer on “cool” to finish the process. I’m a bathtub reader and have saved more than one book his way.

  14. Beautiful Lady, there is also “Someone” that can change the interior design of my house to read in the tub…Una volta sono tornata a casa e parte del mio salotto era stato trasferito in bagno: una lampada, una sedia, un leggio…posacenere e sigarette, asciugamani. Il tutto organizzato meticolosamente e con cura per non bagnare il libro sacro e poter restare a oltranza…impossibile farlo uscire. Unico nomade pellegrino che ha il privilegio di usare My tub! Ti abbraccio, Tania

    • Che storia meravigliosa! Posso solo immaginare il bagno trasformato in un oasi di lettura, un salotto letterario e un centro benessere, allo stesso tempo!

  15. Oh dear. That is one wrinkly book! I don’t remember the last time I took a bath (ten minute showers for me!), so thankfully that never happened to me. However, I do like to take reading material with me to the bathroom occasionally, haha.

  16. We have had one or two books returned to the library which had obviously been dropped in the bath! In summer we have also had books with sand in between the pages. Lucky students reading on a warm beach while I’m stuck in work 😦
    I won’t taking my kindle with me in the bath, but I do like to have audio book hooked up to portable speakers occasionally 🙂

    • I listen to audiobooks but never thought to listen to one in the bath, what a good idea!

      Those students are really rubbing it in that they are on vacation aren’t they? Although I have to say, there’s something wonderful about the idea of sand in between the pages of a book – as I eagerly await warmer weather, the image of reading on a beach is delightful!

  17. I’ve never read in a bathtub though I have had a few unfortunate lunch-thermos in backpack experiences. I always feel terrible when I get a book damp, though many of them do bounce back remarkably well.
    Speaking of remarkable, I’ve nominated you for the Shine Award. If, for any reason, you don’t accept awards, no worries. Just take this as a note that you shine a little happiness and beauty into my day. 🙂
    If you want to accept it, go to here for the rules.

    • A spill from the thermos is probably worse than a spill in the bath as then you have a stain as well! (plus you lose whatever was in the thermos so your lunch is ruined too!).

      Thank you for the nomination – you are so sweet! I always enjoy reading your posts, from your poems to your discussion on books to your adventures in the animal shelter so I’m very touched 🙂

  18. Oh and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer book – at times I could have willingly thrown that book in the bath (only we don’t have one, shower only), this book teaches us what obsession can mean, did I teaches us? no I meant obsesses about obsession, I remember thinking, this better have a great ending or I may have to throw this book at something 🙂 That said, I’m including The Museum of Innocence on my itinerary when I visit Istanbul in May, after getting through all those pages, I deserve it! Which reminds me I must get his other book Istanbul off the shelf and give it a read before then too.

    • You must tell me about your visit to the museum after you go! Istanbul is on my list of cities to visit and now, of course, the museum is on it as well. I completely understand your reaction to the book – the boredom of someone’s obsession, the boredom of someone’s narcissism too. In the end it’s that boring reading that makes it such a great book but, oh boy, it’s hard to get through at times!

      I’m reading The Red Door now. Set in 16th C Istanbul so it’s a very different setting. So far, so good, but I’m on page 10 so it’s hard to make sweeping generalities for the moment 🙂

      • My Name is Red was the first of his book’s I read and quite different from everything else subsequently. ‘Snow’ was great and I can’t wait to read his non-fiction ‘Istanbul’ I am sure I will meet his ‘obsession’ again.

        I see one of his books Silent House is in the Foreign Fiction prize list, not a new book, but one that has finally been translated after about 15 years. Might save that to read ‘in situ’ 🙂

        • It would be great to read one of his books when you are there 🙂

          I’m glad to hear you enjoyed My Name is Red and Snow. I look forward to finishing/reading them!

  19. Now I want to read that book, when I read in the tub I take a towel just for the book I keep cleaning my hands and I always drink tea with the book too, I wonder if can write in the tub have to try it. This is so interesting maybe the water relax them and makes them write. Also, Edmond Rostand like to write on bathtub but no water for him and Benjamin Franklin would like to take air baths to write.

  20. Never tried reading in a bath until my husband and I spent a vacation in a cabin. In its cozy bathroom I saw three novels nicely arranged on a stand by the tub waiting to be read 🙂

  21. Too many wrecked books and left the bath with water too tepid to enjoy. Now I take a shower and snuggle back into bed with my books. AND thank goodness you didn’t have a picture of Winston Churchill in the tub–talk about your classic TMI! Have a great weekend, Letizia.

    • A cozy bed and a good book- I think many others would agree with you that this is one of the highlights of a cozy day!

      I suppose it’s a good thing Churchill valued his privacy 😉

      (An early congratulations on your upcoming book release!! So exciting!)

  22. I guess reading a book must be at everywhere and anywhere. The same with writing task. Even though, reading is a broader work…I read the nature events as clouds, thunders, birds singing…message in the bus, metro…graffiti at street walls…. somehow listening a book (audible book) and podcasts are other ways…I guess the human being read all time, write all time. A dream may be a fairy book…who is the author?…who is the reader?…the dreamer, but when a dream is written, its not only a dreamer task. Thanks for share. I appreciate very much your important work for art, literature and well living.

    • And if we fall asleep reading a book, perhaps our dreams intertwine with the words of the author! Palavras do autor, e nossas palavras, entao, criar um novo texto, talvez, em nosso inconsciente? Como e maravilhos! Suas palavras sao sempre tao atencioso e poetico e me faz pensar!

  23. I have never, ever been able to read in a bathtub. I don’t like baths to begin with, so don’t spend lots of time in one. (I much prefer showers.) And I care too much about my books to risk getting them wet. Baths and books = not for me.

  24. My college roommate married after her sophomore year, had twins the next year and then two more babies within 3 years after that. When she was in grad school, she locked herself in the bathroom and took LONG baths and read in the tub. Her husband took care of the kids while she soaked and regained her sanity. She still says it was the books–and not the bath–that saved her, though we all think it was a combination of literature, isolation, and water therapy.

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