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Sweatpants & Books | Ten Books to Read in the Bathtub

By Charlotte W.F. Smith

It’s time for some more love on one of my favorite things: bath time. Bubble baths, bath bombs, new deep conditioners, candles…bath time is sacred to me. I also engage in a time-honored tradition of reading in my bath tub. Sure, a page or two might get a sprinkle of water, but somehow that makes it all better. Here are 10 kinds of books, along with recommendations, that make for excellent bath time reading.

Pair your soul-soothing bath with some poetry for some serious retreat and reflection. While poetry can deal with some of life’s worst heartaches, it can also bring fuel to keep going through then. For this, I suggest Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Beautiful, haunting, inspiring, this new bestseller will soon become a staple on women’s bookshelves everywhere.

Sometimes we want help, but we don’t want serious advice-giving books, TED talks, or self-help books. Oh, and we’re busy. If you only have a few minutes of peace in your bath (say, once a week while deep conditioner does its thing), something broken up into small, digestible bits is perfect. Try something like Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin. Published when he was 26, it’s filled to the brim with humor and honesty. While some concepts are a bit outdated and represent a different mindset (“Love your Neighbour; yet don’t pulldown your Hedge”), most are applicable to everyday life in some way.

Sometimes, my baths lead my brain to think of absolutely ridiculous situations that simply wouldn’t happen…but what if they did? What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe is here for you. An Amazon Best Book (Sept 2014) written by the writer of the internet’s beloved xkcd comics, this hilarious venture into serious science will satisfy your hypothetical queries and your need for humor. 

Browsing Facebook when I’m in the tub has shown me that now more than ever, we need strong women to look up to. 4,000 Years of Uppity Women by Vicki León is here for you with brief bios of badass women throughout history. History professors and the average reader have both enjoyed the entire Uppity Women series – this is a “greatest hits” collection, while others delve into specific time periods – and are often encouraged to read further. You’re welcome, feminist researchers!

The bath has been rumored to be named for an infamous Hungarian countess who bathed in the blood of young girls to maintain her good looks. Rumors are investigated and put to rest in Countess Dracula: The Life and Times of Elizabeth Bathory, The Blood Countess by Tony Thorne. I’m not saying she was the nicest woman ever, as Thorne will prove, but murdering girls to bathe in their blood is a bit of a stretch. Enjoy your bath in peace.

Need more visual escape? Try The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick. Sallick has been designing bathrooms for years. This guide will help you plot the bathroom of your dreams with written and visual inspiration and advice. Don’t blame us if you scrap your plans for the day and go to the hardware store (although I personally prefer to then stream home renovation shows on my phone so I can stay in my cozy bath).

Maybe you want to travel from one bath to another (seriously, that’s a dream come true). Cathedrals of the Flesh: My Search for the Perfect Bath by Alexia Brue will give you some serious wanderlust to find the perfect whatever – the perfect cup of coffee, the perfect massage, the perfect nap, or maybe you’ll find more perfect baths! Brue’s depth of information mixed with personal experience will make you want to hop on a plane to anywhere. 

If there’s one woman who can always warm my heart, it’s Julia Child. My Life In France is her honest and loving autobiography detailing her first days in France when she was absolutely lost in every way. She often said that when landing in France, she couldn’t even make decent toast! She dove headfirst into the culture, leading the language, finding what the locals ate, and attending classes at the Cordon Bleu, ultimately becoming the food guru that paved the way for so many in the food industry. Hint: bring a snack (or three) with you to the tub while reading this. It just makes life better.

Maybe you want something spiritual to feed you. How about from a minister who left her post to become a professor and insists on finding the sacred in the small things? An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor is full of inspiration to love the world, your neighbor, and (the hardest) yourself. Her wonderful honesty (she’s terrible at prayer) paired with beautiful insights is a definite balm for the soul. You’ll leave your bath feeling renewed and hopeful, and possibly wanting to hang laundry. While this book focuses on Christianity and comes from a former Episcopal priest, anyone pursuing spiritual practices can take her words to heart.

Laughing at other people (with their consent) can be incredibly therapeutic – that’s the entire basis of comedy. Bossypants by Tina Fey is no different. Any woman will be able to laugh at Tina’s story, but moms who are juggling absolutely everything at once will find the later chapters absolutely hilarious. Please don’t laugh so hard that you drop your book in the tub! Maybe you should get one of those in-tub book caddies for this one…

 

 

Charlotte Smith is an esthetician licensed in Tennessee and Georgia. She’s married to a lumberjack version of Deadpool, is obsessed with huskies, is straight up in quarter-life crisis mode, and loves pretty much anything that could be considered creepy.

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