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6 Inexpensive Essentials for Reading in the Bath

A.J. O'Connell

Staff Writer

A.J. O’Connell is the author of two published novellas: Beware the Hawk and The Eagle & The Arrow. All she’s ever wanted to do in life is read and write books, and so, is constantly writing at least one novel. She holds an MFA in creative fiction, but despite the best efforts of her teachers at Fairfield University's low-residency program, remains a huge dork for sci-fi, fantasy and comic books. She is a journalist and has taught journalism to college students. She blogs about feminism, the writing life, and whatever else comes into her head at Blog: A.J. O'Connell Twitter: @ann_oconnell

I do most of my reading in the bath these days. (And, admittedly, a lot of my writing.)

It’s a side-effect of having a very active toddler; if I’m taking some time for a bath, I’m going to make the most of it. I go in with a stack of books, comics, and my Kindle and prepare to sit there until the water goes cold and the bubbles disappear.

However, bathing with paper brings obvious challenges, and as a veteran aquatic reader, I am here to list hacks — some I use, and some that aren’t mine – for reading in the bath while saving your books, because there are also some big joys of reading in the bath.

First, let’s talk about the obvious solution.

The bath caddy

the pin

Bath caddies, store-bought and DIY (and you can make these for very little, if you’re any good at all with woodworking tools), are often hailed as the answer to all our reading-in-the-tub problems. And they are awesome. I mean, look at that picture: the book, the wine, the candles, the bubbles! Sadly, there is a problem caddies can’t fix: our tubs themselves. Many of us have shower/tub combos, and those don’t always work well with caddies, because they don’t always have a lip for the caddy to sit on.  I know. I have a bath caddy. And it’s an awesome bath caddy, with a stand for my book, and a wine holder and even a holder for one of those tall candlesticks. But it’s a good thing I never lit that candle, because my bath caddy fell into the tub one night, taking my book and wine with it. So if you don’t have a tub with two sides, you might want to try something else.

A music stand

Just keep a towel handy so you can dry your hands and turn pages.

There are cute versions of this that you can buy — I saw one shelf that looked like a bath caddy, but had legs on the side. It was pretty pricey, though, so if you have an old music stand lying around, that’s a good substitute, especially if it’s adjustable. (I find mine works best for comics because of those little arm things on the sides.)

A Ziploc bag

This is not ideal, because when the plastic touches the screen the Kindle gets confused, so I’m experimenting with different bags right now.

For a while, I was almost exclusively reading my Kindle in the bathtub. I just put it in a gallon-sized Ziploc. Admittedly it worked better with the old Kindle — which had buttons — than it does with my new touchscreen Kindle. I’m not sure why the touchscreen is a problem, though; the Ziploc works with my iPad with no problem.

The audio book

Look, I know listening to an audio book in the bath is a no-brainer, but it really never occurred to me until last year and it was such a relief not to have to worry about getting a book wet.

The… dog leash?

the pin

The child who designed this is a genius.


This one requires some explanation. In 2013, this photo made the rounds online after a Redditor shared his then-8-year-old’s solution to the bath-book problem. It still deserves a mention, because it’s still pretty awesome. She rigged up a dog leash and collar (or elastic band, I can’t tell) and a suction cup. This child is a genius and has hopefully skipped middle and high school and gone straight to MIT to come up with more bathtime reading hacks.

Bonus for writers: the diving slate

My entire bathtub writing setup

This isn’t reading-related, but if you’re a writer who gets ideas in the bath or shower, you need to know about the magic of the diving slate.  They’re basically slabs of white plastic that divers use to take notes under the water, so they’re totally appropriate for a bathtub. All you need to write on them is a pencil. Then, after the bath, you dry the slates off and transcribe your notes. (While divers use a handful of wet sand to erase their slates, I prefer a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. But you can use an abrasive cleaner like Comet, too.) You can find them for under $10 at any diving shop or online. Some even glow in the dark!

How do you read and write in the bath? What do you use to keep your books dry when reading in the bath? Let us know in the comments!