I’ll go with a controversial take here. After the minimum basics of bath/shower, toilet, sink, 99% of bathrooms don’t have what I believe to be the single most important improvement a home bathroom can have. What is this missing piece needed to create a perfect washroom? A bidet? Nice, but no. An extra large mirror? Useful, but also no.
It’s a library.
Yes, you heard me. If you want a bathroom that not only sets you apart but can do wonders for yourself and your life, then a few simple shelves or a section of table where you can stack some books to create a bathroom library is a necessity. While this sounds counter-intuitive, give me a few more paragraphs and give it a try.
You might be surprised how a simple book shelf like the one below can change your life:
Making the Most of Captive Time
Let’s face it, no matter how efficient you want to be, how much you want to dream up a side business, imagine the next travel outing, or just do whatever throughout the day, sometimes you are stuck in a time and place. The bathroom is one of those places where sometimes you just know you’re going to be there for a while and there’s no working around that.
Many people take their phone in and scroll with social media. Which isn’t doing any favors to your mental health. It’s not pushing things forward in a positive way at all.
While I’m not of the opinion that every single second of every single day should be spent hustling and squeezing production out of every second…I’m all about making the most of time that’s allocated. Listening to podcasts or meditation practices while walking. Doing the same while cooking dinner.
Since being in the bathroom when you have to evacuate the bowels is captive time, get in reading. Even for people who “just can’t read” non-fiction, reading fiction is good for the mind, good for relaxing, and just keeps improving reading comprehension. Not to mention good entertainment.
So it’s just a win-win.
Enormous Self-Improvement Over Two Years
Having a bathroom library has been nothing short of life-changing. Not only does this help kill the bad habit of feeding an already dopamine addicted brain by giving you a reason to leave the phone out of the bathroom, but you increase your reading time. Whether it’s non-fiction to build skills and learn, fiction to be entertained, or a mixture of both, you would be amazed how much reading can be done in bits and pieces over the course of 365 days.
Not to mention the fact this just gets you into the habit of reading more. As you read more, you will naturally read faster. As you read more quality books you’ll feel the desire to read even more.
It’s a very good habit and can help to break the dopamine addiction cycles that come with too much time on the smartphones.
This does another thing, as well. It confirms in your mind the bathroom as a place to relax, study, or otherwise disconnect. When your smartphone is never in that room, you train yourself to be able to relax and detox more thoroughly.
We all need a room where the rest of the world doesn’t intrude. And I don’t know about you, but if there’s any room where I want the rest of the world to but out it is definitely the bathroom.
The fact that there is an action you can do that improves your bathroom and can have personal self-improvement to boot just makes it a professional move when it comes to setting up and designing your bathroom whether you’re middle-aged and designing a dream home or in your first apartment out of college and trying to figure out how to level up past the college days into at least slightly better living.
Bathroom Library Year 1 Books Fully Read
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan
- One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, Ph.D.
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (perfect for bathroom reading)
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason
- The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss (review sections)
- Nightmares & Dreamscapes by Stephen King
- Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day (LOVE this book – to the point only part was done in the bathroom before I took it to my bedroom to finish over several days, but you MUST get a paperback version to get the most out of it)
- Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss
- Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler
- Treasure of the Khan by Clive Cussler
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
- Letters of Seneca by Seneca (although amazing, pretty dense, would not recommend for bathroom reading, moved out of bathroom early on)
- Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone (Audio)
- Ask GaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk (Audio)
- Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins (Audio)
A lot of amazing life-changing books (I’m a firm believe in having a yellow highlighter to “read” impactful non-fiction with a highlighter), some quality fiction writing, and discovered some classics that are yearly reads for me now. All from simply reading in short bursts while having to take care of business. That is some serious quality reading time over the course of a year all from bits of minutes that would otherwise have nothing happen or be wasted scrolling on the phone.
So in a way, this is all “found” improvement. Because it didn’t force me to carve extra time out of the schedule (though maybe I sometimes added a minute or two to get to a good stopping point) but this is all time to deal with daily bodily functions.
In fact, it worked so well I continued to trade out books for more reading. The amount of fiction, non-fiction, and just overall great reading I’ve managed from bathroom time is remarkable. Since so much of my reading is non-fiction, it’s also amazing the skills and personal growth that has come from this habit made from what would otherwise be “wasted” time.
Here’s my list of completed books from year two of the bathroom library:
Bathroom Library Year 2 Books Fully Read
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (I actually read this one 2-3 times a year now)
- Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson (classic fiction)
- The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime by M.J. DeMarco
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi (this is going to be an annual one from now on)
- Atomic Habits by James Clear (review sections)
- The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers by Caleb Warnock
- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss (Also perfect for bathroom reading)
- Atlantis Found by Clive Cussler
- Valhalla Rising by Clive Cussler
- The Navigator by Clive Cussler
- What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
- Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone (Audio)
- Ask GaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk (Audio)
- Deep Work by Cal Newport (Audio)
- Outliers by Malcom Gladwell (Audio)
- Unfc*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop (Audio)
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink (Audio)
Did I get additional skills from all this non-fiction reading or listening to audio books? Absolutely! Did I get new ideas? Yup, got those, too. Some of these books inspired me, others fired me up, and many times they pushed me just enough to do another 30 minutes of blogging or another 20 minutes of freelancing or another hour of fiction writing.
All good positive things. I even got some good old fiction reading in to relax. That was also a wonderful distraction during a bought of a stomach flu and two bouts with food poisoning, respectively.
How to Start Your Bathroom Library
Getting started is easy. Virtually every bathroom has a built in shelf, table, etc. If not, build, buy, or create a little wooden box shelf that can be moved into some free space in the bathroom. Even the smallest bathrooms have room on the back of the toilet, and to avoid the dreaded bookshelf falls on you there is wall putty, among other solutions.
If there is a counter separate from the sink, just have 3-4 books stacked up, binding facing you, so they’re begging to be picked up when you get in. I tend to have a huge bathroom library, but I’ll still rotate books in and out.
I also live in a house with a somewhat strangely designed upstairs bathroom, so with multiple shelves and counters already built in (and a closet to boot), I have plenty of options for making this work.
But even with a more conventional design, there is still always room to make an idea like this work!
Don’t make it too complicated, the most important part to starting is to do just that: start. It can be as simple as three books on the edge of a counter and a bookmark for each.
While some of these pictures are of really good ideas or designs, it doesn’t take a lot of work to get started. A small stack of books on a corner counter is enough. A very cheap shelf built into a small area of the room can have books intertwined along with toiletries to create an easy-access library.
There are plenty of options available to make something work in every type and size of bathroom at every income level.
Designing a Better Bathroom Library
Turns out I’m far from the first person to see this opportunity. While I haven’t had a large enough bathroom or enough design savvy to pull off some the best bathroom libraries that I’ve seen, and Googling “bathroom library” provides a really interesting array of design options. You can also check out this post which goes over a series of these that are very impressive.
While I don’t really like baths and don’t have the nice bathtubs that would facilitate even the occasional long bath when that rare feeling came along for a change of pace (it would always be much more likely to be a hot tub for me), these designs are pretty amazing and give me plenty of ideas for the future.
Whether you have a small bathroom that is barely functional, or you are a redesign of a dream house to create a dream bathroom, get those bookshelves in there to make that part of your home lifestyle.
It sticks out, it’s useful, it encourages good habits, and it shows a degree of style that not only is a great way to make that shift into adulthood, but to do it with a style that very few manage to match.
So why not go for it?
Is a Bathroom Library Better Than a Home Library?
The home library has long been considered a distinguished or sophisticated way to use an extra room in a house. And I agree – this is a really good way to spend an extra room and really put your own stamp on a home. Many of us also don’t have a house that’s large enough for that. Or we’re apartment living which kind of strikes down that idea.
I won’t say one’s better than the other because in truth I don’t see any reason you can’t have both in a home. If you have an apartment then bathroom it is, anyway! Also although slightly off-topic, I found this picture of a home library that has a secret bathroom, and I thought that was pretty wild. Complete with fake bookshelf door and everything:
But getting back to the main point, there’s no reason these two ideas should be in competition and as the focus of this blog is on the bathroom, for the purposes of what we’re going to look at and encourage – it’s all about the bathroom library!
Hooray for the Bathroom Library!
At the end of the day, part of the fun of your 20’s (or later if you’re a late bloomer – no judgement) is how you come out of those college years, get out on your own, and start growing in little ways. Start making your life, your style, your habitat your own.
Creating your version of a bathroom library not only does that, but also provides the resources (books) to life yourself up in many areas of life whether you’re motivated to develop a personal philosophy, learn financial skills, get inspiration, or just enjoy a lot of fiction reading. All of this is good and trust me, when you’re in those times in life where you’re living on a sharp budget, when a friend or potential someone comes over and judges where you’re at, making the most of even the “budget times” in life will make an impression.
And create a habit that is worth upgrading going into the future. So start thinking about it, and build that bathroom library that gets the job done for you!