A Tinygogo bibliography

For the new year, I want to share some of the books that have helped inform my sense of mission with this site. I share these as an overview. Later I hope to explore some of the books below (and others) in more depth.

There are numerous how-to books on saunas and hot tubs. Most fall into the garden variety "home-improvement" category such as the Ortho and Sunset series of books. These have scintillating titles such as: Sunset Ideas for Hot Tubs, Spas and Home Saunas and Spas: Planning, Selecting and Installing. 

Still there are a few that stand out for their insight and vision, reading that informs us of the deeper meaning for enthusiast bathing. These are the books that I occasionally revisit for reference and rediscovery.

I hope what I share below will inspire you to seek and create some quality bathing in 2016. 

Let's start with five:

Cathedrals of the Flesh, Alexia Brue

Such a good read! Alexia Brue considers the possibility of opening her own Turkish Hammam in New York City. In order to properly appreciate this potential huge investment, she does a world tour, making careful study of the bathing customs of various countries by experiencing them for herself. (Her writing style reveals a certain wry joy for the weird and awkward that I particularly love.) Cathedrals is a travelogue written around the subject of indulgent pleasure seeking via bathing. What else is there to life?


Sweat, Mikkel Aaland

This is an indispensable book that explores the world of sweat bathing. It's important because it is one of the first books that provided information on sweat bathing from around the world. It's a great mix of well-researched material with some fun travel writing and personal story telling. Sweat, really gets the credit for being one of the first works that explores the shared commonalities of sweat bathing in numerous different cultures around the world. 

The title says it all. Just as Carl Sagan (coincidently working around the same time Sweat was written) integrated up-to-date scientific information from a wide array of sources to show us the "big picture" of how we fit into the universe, Mikkel Aaland synthesized diverse cultural and historical knowledge to tell us an important story: sweat bathing is a common reoccurring theme with how humans have traditionally cleaned themselves, communed socially and reconnected to being alive and human. We've just lost sight of these traditions in our culture of quick-and-easy morning showers. 

Mikkel has been covered earlier here at Tinygogo. He is responsible for the Perfect Sweat Summit which took place at Archimedes Banya in San Francisco.


Getting Wet, Adventures in the Japanese Bath, Eric Talmadge

This book focuses exclusively on the Japanese national passion for bathing: ofuro, onsens and sentos (wood hot tubs/baths, hot springs and public bath houses) and other related bathing activities. Eric Talmadge is an Associated Press reporter based in Japan. He's lived there for a number of years now and really knows and loves sharing Japanese culture. As with Cathedrals of the Flesh, exploration of Japanese bathing culture becomes a great travelogue where we learn more about the country through amusing personal stories. 


Undesigning the Bath, Leonard Koren

If bathing were a political movement, this would be my Little Red Book. It is my bathing manifesto. It's is out of print but worth tracking down. If anyone is considering building their own bath or sauna retreat, Undesigning the Bath is essential primary reading. Inside there are no "how-to's" but instead important philosophical conceptions on the aesthetics of the bathing space and how such spaces can become environments for deep reflection and satisfaction.

Leonard Koren was a speaker at the Perfect Sweat Summit. He is probably best known for being the founder/publisher/editor of Wet Magazine.

The Sauna Book, Tom Johnson and Tim Miller

I don't know much about this book's background or the authors. Way back in the 1970s it probably competed for bookstore shelf space with Mikkel Aaland's Sweat as the book for do-it-yourselfers building their own backyard or basement saunas.

Like Sweat it's out of print and getting harder to find. Also like Sweat, it goes deeper into sauna background, health and history. But primarily it provides good solid information on how to build a sauna. It's remains one of the better books for DIY sauna building. This book was indispensable when my brother and I built our backwoods wood-fired sauna in the 1990s in Alaska.

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