Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Do you have to poop when you're in a bookstore?

Here's perhaps an interesting post for you - and also a pretty personal one:

I've always adored being around books.  My father was a bit of a book collector, and I enjoyed pulling random encyclopedia volumes off the shelf and having a flick through, or looking through the multitude of wildlife books he had and copying the watercolour paintings of different types of birds in crude crayon.

I've carried on with my own trait of collecting books - first Japanese grammar books when I was learning Japanese through high school and my undergraduate degree, and those books slowly blended into anything I could get my hands on about language and linguistics.  Now it's archaeology, lots and lots of books on archaeology, palaeolithic archaeology, the origin of language, and old 19th century anthropologist books with strange pictures and stranger views on humanity.

And I've married a man who could bury me in his own book collection.  So I'm often surrounded by books at home.  And they don't make me need to poop.

In order to acquire these books, I purchase many of them online - but, of course, I also spend a lot of time in bookshops.  And a strange thing happens when I'm in a bookshop, or a library.  Without fail, I'll feel like I need to go to the bathroom.  I don't know when I first noticed this - probably in my early 20s when I was frequenting bookshops more - but every time I stepped into an Oxfam bookshop, the university library, or a Chapters or Waterstone's, I've needed to cut my browsing short or else I'll need to start searching for a bathroom.

And once I've left the premises... the feeling goes away!

I thought this was extremely unusual, and never mentioned it to anyone, until one day during a conversation with two friends about books and bookstores.

And do you know what one of my friends said?

With a shocked look on her face, she said the exact same thing happens to her!!  We were united in this strange strange phenomenon.

Years later, fast forward to yesterday, and I get a text from her that simply says "You know that strange thing we both have?  It's a real thing!  Look up Mariko Aoki phenomenon!"

Simply put, the Mariko Aoki phenomenon (Japanese 青木まり子現象) is the urge to defacate when you visit a bookstore.  It's a thing! It's named after Mariko Aoki, a Japanese woman who wrote about these feelings she had in a magazine in the 80s.  After that she recieved letters from lots of other people who had the same thing!

Here is the Wikipedia article.

A quick trip around the interwebs shows others speaking about this strange urge.  Many other articles are just posting about it because it's funny.

Wikipedia notes some theories say it is because of the smell of the ink, or the posture you are in while you look at books.  I don't think it's either of these - I'm around books all the time at home!  I suggested to my husband that it might be because I love books and it makes me excited and a bit tense - all these unread, unbought books!!  He suggests it's the smell of paper.  Hm, perhaps it could be the smell.

But I'm seriously considering starting a Facebook page so us sufferers can rally together in solidarity!  What do we want?  To poop!  When do we want it?  When we're in a bookstore!

Are there any other sufferers out there?

30 comments:

  1. It's a running joke in our family that whenever my mum would take my brother and I to our library after school as kids my brother would without fail be overcome with the need to 'pay a visit'. We always put it down to the fact that we weren't going straight home after school and that there were no toilets at the library - so we thought it was a psychological 'I can't go so I want to!' thing! I've worked in libraries on and off for many years so it's a good job I don't seem to be affected! x

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  2. No pooping here, just the occasional urge to barf as I walk by the Twilight or James Patterson shelves...

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    1. Why would you defecate on an other's reading preferences? I guess you must have it too! And a touch of snobbery. I find your post offensive to many readers who do not have the same tastes as you. There is room for everyone's reading choices.

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  3. Absolutely. Bookstores, gift stores, and antique shops. It's really annoying, because I have to put down any items I was interested in, leave, do my business, and go find my items again. It's so weeeirrrd!!!

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  4. I'm ready to start chanting! I love books, they're my favorite thing. I first noticed this in high school, when browsing in the school library. It happens EVERY time I got to the library or especially Barnes and Noble. It happens FAST there.

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    1. If you do start a facebook page, invite me! I want to know how many of us are out there. after the /, I'm mosskatherine - on facebook.

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  5. Check this out, it has a name! It's called the Mariko Aoki phenomenon. There's a short wikipedia article on it I just found. About to go google it.

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  6. I've never had this problem before, but I was thinking to myself that it might be the smell of all the books when I read your comment that your hubby suggested the same thing. Incidentally, I'm in a book store as I write this lol.

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  7. Same here, libraries, CD sections in HMV.....oops ..got to go....turtles head popping out just talking about it!

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  8. I've been (suffering is the wrong word,) experiencing this since my late teens, Libraries, bookshop, browsing through record racks! I haven't met anyone else until now. I wonder if we're eligible for a disabled parking badge?

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  10. Ok...so why does this happen?

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  11. Here I thought it was just me, lol!

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  12. In antique shops, and very fast. I thought it happens only to me and that is the kind of dust that aggregates in places where people store lots of old stuff that cause this

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  13. Came across this while searching from something quite different, and I'm almost ridiculously excited to discover that this is a real phenomenon and it's not just me being weird. ;-) I get it most strongly when trying to choose gift cards. Here's an interesting and plausible theory -
    http://dearscience.org/2008/09/18/why-do-i-have-to-poop-when-browsing-redux/comment-page-1/

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  14. Bookstores and craft stores (Joannes, Micahels) .. they don't share the same odor so I'm leaning towards the excitement of being in these establishments.

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  15. After researching this very phenomena it has been found by Freaud that it's a psychosymatic reaction to a part of our brain that goes back to our potty training. Most everybody reads on the toilet...so books trigger the sensation. if you are into crafts...that is what causes it. the feeling of comfort one feels ....on the potty

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  16. For anyone with this problem please join our facebook group

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/356223027911782/

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  17. Omg I'm the same way!!! Craft stores ALWAYS do it to me, as well as World Market and sometimes even marshalls and target. But always craft stores and World Market. I've joked to a friend that whenever I'm constipated I need to just pay Joann a visit

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  18. The post was nice i love to read. It was funny and interesting. Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts on poop.
    good gag gifts

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  19. I'm the same way! Going to Walmart in the fabric section two days in a row caused me major problems. I had to scoot my way to the bathroom and barely did make it!! So embarrassing because I have to stop and scoot, stop and scoot and I know I am looking weird!!!

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    1. I didn't mean I was on the floor, LOL, just scooting my feet a little at a time, because it's fixing to happen. I love fabric and I think I get excited because I make these cute little dolls!! This is so crazy...

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  20. Now that's interesting. I wonder if it's related to the phenomenon of often needing to poop after you drink coffee, which is also a thing that's been found to happen to a lot of people.

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  21. This is so true -- and so aggravating when you're trying to browse! It happens more often in libraries and used bookstores than in new bookstores. I always thought there is just a scent in the air that makes us have the urge. So glad I'm not the only one!

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  22. I found this thread because I have experienced this as long as I can remember and am baffled and annoyed by it. It happens anytime I am feeling inspired about a project (doing art, organizing a closet or area, browsing at bookstores, thrift stores, records, etc. I don't think coffee is the main cause as it happens with or without coffee but it is more like some kind of brain chemistry when explorative and/or creative. I don't buy the smell-of-ink theory as it doesn't just happen at bookstores. Just glad to see I am not the only one. And yes, it does come in handy when one is constipated. :)

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  24. We do have a facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/356223027911782/

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  25. We do have a facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/356223027911782/

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  26. I agree, it's not the smell of paper or ink. It happens when I'm around shelves and racks. I suspect it has something to do with organising things

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