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"Go with the flow!"
A series of books whose first volume was published in 1988, composed of trivia, humor and reference all rolled into one. As the name implies, it is ostensibly something to read while sitting on the toilet, and comes with a laminated cover (presumably for waterproofing), and articles are rated by length, so that you can decide what to read based on your, ahem, needs. The books include articles on various historical topics, pop culture trivia, dumb criminal stories, quotes from famous (and not-so-famous) people, assorted lists, and much more. The content is presented somewhat tongue-in-cheek, not at all shying away from wordplay and the occasional Toilet Humor, but still manages to be highly entertaining. As if the stories and lists weren't enough, each page also has "running feet" -- a little fact printed at the bottom margin.
As of 2013, there are 25 volumes, not counting a multitude of Spin Offs (e.g., special versions for kids and even for mothers; the "Plunges into" series, where each story centralizes on a certain topic; various puzzle and Sudoku books). Other volumes have been amassed into "Best Of"s.
The Bathroom Reader series covers topics both interesting and obscure; witness the story of Emperor Norton -- of San Francisco (no, they're not making him up), as well as the history of the GI Joe action figure and historical dissertations ranging from the evolution of money to the French Revolution.
- Canada, Eh?: Many segments throughout the book series are dedicated to Canadian culture.
- Critical Research Failure: Invoked in at least one volume, which contains a page of errata from previous editions. One note in particular pointed out that an earlier book had contradicting facts: one page said that ants don't sleep, and another said that ants stretch after they wake up. They basically Handwaved this one by saying that it's not really known whether ants sleep or not.
- The Ghost: Just who is Uncle John anyway? Nobody seems to know.
- Its been vaguely hinted that its humorist John Javna, who co-created the series and has contributed large parts to every book since the series started. However, "Javna = Uncle John" has never been exactly confirmed.
- They have mentioned in a few books that Uncle John is definitely not the guy on the back of every book, as often assumed. That guy's name isn't John, but Larry Kelp and he's only a technician for the Bathroom Readers Institute.
- Actually (and probably quite surprisingly), he's almost certainly SF writer John Scalzi. In fact, in later volumes, Scalzi's credited with being the editor of many of the Bathroom Institute books.
- Gone Horribly Right: In a segment called "It Worked... Too Well".
- Hurricane of Puns: The writers love puns, especially if they relate to the bathroom in any way; the lamer, the better.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Starting with Ultimate, the books all took some form of Uncle John's [adjective phrase] Bathroom Reader.
- They stopped the Uncle John's Nth Bathroom Reader business because they didn't want new readers to think that they had to read them in order.
- Long Running Book Series
- Moon Logic Puzzle: Many of the brainteasers. Example: "Julia is riding a horse. Directly to her left is a hippo traveling at the same speed. In front of her is an elephant, also traveling at the same speed. Following behind her - at the same speed - is a lion. And to her right is a ledge. How will Julia make it to safety?" (Answer: By getting off the carousel.)
- Running Gag: From about All-Purpose Extra Strength onward, every book has a running foot reading "Hi Mom!"
- Shout-Out: Plenty on the index pages, mostly to friends of the writers.
- Toilet Humor: Every book manages to get in a couple fart jokes, although there are some more scientific articles about farts as well.
In 1964, the BBC reported that Ringo Starr had his toenails removed. It was actually his tonsils.