Books & Art

Why Do We Get the Urge to Take a Dump the Second We Enter Bookstores?

Here’s a possible theory explaining the unpleasant mix of books and bowels.

When you enter a bookstore, how do you usually feel? Think about it for a minute, we won’t judge. 


Well, picture this: you’re walking through the fiction aisles browsing for your next great read. But you stop dead in your tracks as you’ve suddenly gotten butterflies in your stomach, except what’s in your stomach isn’t butterflies at all… 

If you’ve ever felt the sudden urge to answer the call of nature as soon as you set foot in any book lover’s paradise, don’t worry; you’re not crazy. In fact, there’s a theory that may explain your bookstore bowel woes. 

More: 12 Beautiful Libraries That Every Bibliophile Must Visit Before They Die 

In February 1985, a young woman from Tokyo named Mariko Aoki submitted to the Japanese magazine Hon no Zasshi (Book Magazine in English) an essay explaining her overwhelming need to shit whenever she went to bookstores. Upon her essay’s publication, the Book Magazine editors reportedly received word from other readers that they, too, experienced the same thing. Lo and behold, the Mariko Aoki phenomenon was born. 

According to the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, the phenomenon can be attributed to a buttload of factors and can’t really be reduced to a singular medical cause. One hypothesis speculates that the smell of freshly processed ink and paper produces laxative effects, which could also possibly explain why we like to read newspapers and books when we’re on the toilet. These printed materials seemingly help us empty our bowels better. 

Photo by Unsplash.

Another explanation takes a more psychological approach, working with the notion that being in the vast presence of so many books that house heaps of information is enough to make you so nervous that you end up with the strong urge to drop the bomb. 

But while these hypotheses do seem to make a lot of sense, don’t rejoice just yet. They have yet to be studied and proven.

Until then, we’re pretty much left wondering how odd it is that trips to the bookstore often end in trips to the bathroom. So the next time you’re constipated and you’ve run out of laxatives, try visiting a freshly-stocked bookstore instead.

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Juno Ileana Reyes
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