Op-Ed: The Bathroom Library


My highly educated, 34-year-old, third child came home for a visit a few years back and after visiting the bathroom came out chuckling. He was amused that I still had the same five books in the bathroom library basket that had been present most of his childhood. You might ask yourself why a person would not rotate reading material so that their children (and visiting adults) would not become bored, or further what about germs (ewww!!!), but these five books are of particular import, in my opinion, to the development of all intelligent humans, young and old, and thus the reason they remain in my bathroom reading bin. I have read and reread them all multiple times.

Negatives into Positives

The first is of particular importance in today’s world Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do! By Robert H. Schuller. This book explains how to turn any negative into a positive. No matter how tough times get, you have the potential to achieve the best life. How do I know this is true? I know because my life has not always been easy. My childhood was far from idyllic. I was raised for the most part in a single parent home with five children during some very hard times. My father was an abusive alcoholic. I will not go into great detail, but rest assured even in less than great circumstances one can achieve great things. I graduated at the top of my high school class and went on to have success in my life. One is not doomed to failure. This book provides an inspirational outline for turning adversity into possibility. Remember tough times never last, but tough people do!

Taking the Time

The second book in the basket is A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik. This book has reminded me almost daily throughout my adult life that the handwritten note can bring joy to a person’s life. One never knows how a simple message can lift a person at any point in time. To this day I still hand-write notes to people because I feel the personal touch speaks volumes. You have taken the time out of your day not just to text, but to sit and think and put your thoughts on paper, find the person’s address, place a stamp and get it to the post box. In other words, effort has been made. You have paid personal attention to another person. The only thing better is face-to-face contact and touch. I am not certain the generation following mine will heed the message sent in this book, but I am hoping that my children might remember it, even if it is when they are cleaning out my belongings when I am gone.

Understanding Nevada

Book three is Sierra Nevada Natural History by Tracy Storer and Robert Usinger. This might seem like a superfluous book to keep in the basket, but I felt as my kids were growing up it was important for them to understand the environment they live in. This book is a guide that deals with man and the Sierra Nevada, the physical features, climate, geological history, and plant and animal distribution. This is an illustrated guide. My boys were in scouts and we camped A LOT! This book was mostly just for casual information, but I feel like they absorbed a lot from this field guide about the beautiful place where we live. They can identify tons of plants and wildlife. They survive in the wilderness if need be. They developed skills and this book casually helped, even if they didn’t realize it.


The fourth book in the basket is Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman. This is a book about the essentials of physics. This book made physics easy. What might have been an otherwise overwhelming subject became exciting and intriguing to my children. It set the stage for many late nights with dad exploring the more complicated concepts in physics, things known and unknown. I wound up with four sons who were all intrigued with science and eager to learn more. Things that I was rather afraid of in school became easy concepts for my children to grasp because of this book and their father’s guidance.

Humor is Always a Good Idea

The fifth book in the basket is all about fun. It is Mama Gone Geek by Lynn Brunelle. This book is humorous and turns the most awkward and smelly aspects of parenting into teaching moments. It’s a memoir and a how-to book. This book shows how science is the ultimate parenting tool. After all, it’s all about observing, asking questions, solving problems, making mistakes, and trying over and over again – just like being a mom or dad! If you are down for experiments that teach both parent and child, this book is made for you.

I do wipe these books down with Clorox wipes regularly, lest you think I am unsanitary, and they have survived for thirty plus years! In my lifetime, these books are still useful. Whether or not you have kids, I am pretty sure they would be helpful in your life as well.

Happy reading!

(V. Fiannaca)

(The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Nevada Signal.)