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Rub a dub dub, it's a day to read in the tub

| Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011

Break out the rubber ducky, turn on the water and crack a book.

Wednesday is National Read in the Bathtub Day.

Before you laugh, try to remember the last time you got into the tub with Charles Dickens or John Grisham.

Soaking up the suds and subplots is a simple, affordable luxury, and one of the few that the government hasn't found a way to tax. Add some candles, scented body oils, bath salts and other creature comforts, and you can turn your bathroom into a mini-spa.

Meredith Mileti of Mt. Lebanon is a faithful bathtub reader. She says she even belonged to a book club that held a meeting in a hot tub.

"I got a Kindle a couple of years ago, and wouldn't use it in the tub because I was afraid of dropping it," she says. "It drove me crazy because I love to read in the tub. Finally, I started using a large ziplock plastic bag, which works OK, except I sometimes have a hard time seeing through the plastic."

Mileti hopes folks will be reading her debut novel, "Aftertaste," in the tub and other places when it's released in September.

Personal trainer Mallery Schaffer, 24 of Robinson has been reading in the bathtub for about nine years.

"It's relaxing," she says. "It's really the only time that I have (for myself). If I take a bath, it's special."

She doesn't do bubble baths but says she'll sometimes add sea salt to the water for her skin. She says she will often stay in the tub for as long as a half-hour. Her choice of reading material runs to fitness magazines, particularly Prevention. A wise choice: the small-format magazine, about the size of the old TV Guide, is easier to handle than, say, the annual Hollywood issue of Vogue.

Even so, nearly every bathtub bookworm has dropped a book in the drink.

"Sometimes it does get wet," Schaffer says. "I've had it get little wrinkles at the edges just from picking it up."

And, of course, holding a book above sea level is hard on the arms.

Several companies have addressed this problem.

The Olympic Hot Tub Company in Seattle sells an Aqua Reader, a floating plastic book stand that frees both arms. It features a built-in cup holder. It retails for $39.95 ( www.olympichottubestore.com ).

Taymor, an international bath accessories company, sells a number of chrome reading racks that range in price from $24.99 to $39.99. They're available on Amazon.com.

Children from ages 4 to 8 might want to try eebee's Bathtime Adventures (Sterling, $6.95). The eight-page book has a built-in squirter that can be filled by dunking. ( www.eebee.com ).

In August 2004, Charles Melcher patented the Durabook, a process for making waterproof books. His company, Melcher Media, published "Poolside" ($14), an immersible collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates, John Cheever and others ( www.durabooks.com ).

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