YAWN by Mary Mann


Adventures in Boredom
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Studying a mood that “pops up in every facet of existence, from work to love to war.”

Mann likely won’t mind if you find her debut book a little boring; in fact, she’ll likely expect it. Her engaging, essayistic examination underscores boredom’s pervasiveness, how most people find themselves bored by most things—work most of all. Recognizing her own tendencies toward boredom and the restlessness that often accompanies it, she decided to start exploring just what boredom is, why it is so common, and what, if any, purpose it serves. She finds she is not alone: “Boredom in 2015 was becoming something of a hot topic, an old feeling made new by media attention, and here we were at the very cusp of a trend,” she writes of attending a sold-out event called “Bored and Brilliant.” (Mann also learned about international conferences on the topic, but why spend the money to travel to Poland when there’s so much boredom to study near home in Manhattan?) The author attended a sex-toy party for some insight on how to deal with boredom in bed or with monogamy in general. She explores how some consider travel an antidote for boredom, with a whole industry of tourism catering to that need. She writes of the “restless violence” to which teenage boys in particular are prone as they try to break the cycle (also termed “boredom-induced violence”) and the deep depression into which some can descend, with boredom as a trigger or at least an early warning sign. She writes of boredom as a part of the creative process. Mostly, she distracts herself with the project, but even she can become bored with the study of boredom, recognizing the penchant that sparked her interest in the first place. She concludes that “the things I learned about boredom, and the ways I learned to talk about it, actually proved useful.”

Readers who come to share Mann’s understanding could find the book useful, or at least a brief diversion from their boring lives.

Pub Date: May 16th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-374-53584-1
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2017


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