Literature: Uncle John's Bathroom Reader
"Go with the flow!"
A series of books first 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.
The number of volumes has been constant since the beginning, 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, as well as the history of the GI Joe action figure and historical dissertations ranging from the evolution of money to the French Revolution.
Classic Edition Series
- Uncle Johnís Bathroom Reader (1988)
- Uncle Johnís Second Bathroom Reader (1989)
- Uncle Johnís Third Bathroom Reader (1990)
- Uncle Johnís Fourth Bathroom Reader (1991)
- Uncle Johnís Fifth Bathroom Reader (1992)
- Uncle Johnís Sixth Bathroom Reader (1993)
- Uncle Johnís Seventh Bathroom Reader (1994)
- The Best Of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (1995)
- Uncle Johnís Ultimate Bathroom Reader (1996)
- Uncle Johnís Giant 10th Anniversary Bathroom Reader (1997)
- Uncle Johnís Great Big Bathroom Reader (1998)
- Uncle John's 4-Ply Bathroom Reader (1998) (a compilation of material from the first four books)
- Uncle Johnís Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader (1999)
- Uncle Johnís Legendary Lost Bathroom Reader (1999) (a compilation of material from books five through seven)
- Uncle Johnís All-Purpose Extra-Strength Bathroom Reader (2000)
- Uncle Johnís Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader (2001)
- Uncle Johnís Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader (2002)
- Uncle Johnís Unstoppable Bathroom Reader (2003)
- Uncle Johnís Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader (2004)
- Uncle Johnís Fast-Acting Long-Lasting Bathroom Reader (2005)
- Uncle Johnís Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader (2006)
- Uncle Johnís Gigantic Bathroom Reader (2006) (a compilation of the Giant 10th Anniversary and Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Readers)
- Uncle Johnís Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader (2007)
- Uncle Johnís Monumental Bathroom Reader (2007) (a compilation of the Supremely Satisfying and All-Purpose Extra-Strength Bathroom Readers)
- Uncle Johnís Unsinkable Bathroom Reader (2008)
- The Best Of The Best Of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (2008)
- Uncle Johnís Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader (2009)
- Uncle John's Heavy Duty Bathroom Reader (2010)
- Uncle John's 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader (2011)
- Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader (2012)
- Uncle John's Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader (2013)
This book series contains examples of:
- Canada, Eh?: Many segments throughout the book series are dedicated to Canadian culture.
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: 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.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first couple of books were smaller and had shorter articles that often started with a brief history of the subject followed by several tidbits about it. It wasn't until the fifth book that the articles got larger and more in-depth.
- Fun with Acronyms: UJPORAD (Uncle John's Page of Random Acronym Definitions) and APOUJRAD (Another Page of Uncle John's Random Acronym Definitions), both of which describe the meanings behind acronyms and initialisms.
- The Ghost: Just who is Uncle John anyway? Nobody seems to know until 2012, when it was revealed that "Uncle John" is Gordon Javna, the brother of writer John Javna. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stopped Numbering Sequels: As seen above, they gradually broke free of the "Uncle John's Nth Bathroom Reader" series.
- Toilet Humor: Every book manages to get in a couple bathroom jokes, although there are some more scientific articles about bodily functions too.
In 1964, the BBC reported that Ringo Starr had his toenails removed. It was actually his tonsils.