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Yawn
Cover of Yawn
Yawn
Adventures in Boredom
by Mary Mann
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The incisive and often hilarious story of one of our most interesting cultural phenomena: boredom

It's the feeling your grandma told you was only experienced by boring people. Some people say they're dying of it; others claim to have killed because of it. It's a key component of depression, creativity, and sex-toy advertisements.

It's boredom, the subject of Yawn, a delightful and at times moving take on the oft-derided emotion and how we deal with it. Deftly wrought from interviews, research, and personal experience, Yawn follows Mary Mann's search through history for the truth about boredom, spanning the globe, introducing a varied cast of characters. The Desert Fathers—fourth-century Christian monks who made their homes far from civilization—offer the first recorded accounts of lethargy; Thomas Cook, grandfather of the tourism industry, provided escape from the mundane for England's working class; and contemporarily, we meet couples who are disenchanted by monogamous sex, deployed soldiers who seek entertainment and connection in porn, and prisoners held in solitary confinement, for whom boredom is a punishment for crimes they may or may not have committed.

With sharp wit and impressive historical acumen, Mann tells the unexpected story of the hunt for a deeper understanding of boredom, in all its absurd, irritating, and inspiring splendor.

The incisive and often hilarious story of one of our most interesting cultural phenomena: boredom

It's the feeling your grandma told you was only experienced by boring people. Some people say they're dying of it; others claim to have killed because of it. It's a key component of depression, creativity, and sex-toy advertisements.

It's boredom, the subject of Yawn, a delightful and at times moving take on the oft-derided emotion and how we deal with it. Deftly wrought from interviews, research, and personal experience, Yawn follows Mary Mann's search through history for the truth about boredom, spanning the globe, introducing a varied cast of characters. The Desert Fathers—fourth-century Christian monks who made their homes far from civilization—offer the first recorded accounts of lethargy; Thomas Cook, grandfather of the tourism industry, provided escape from the mundane for England's working class; and contemporarily, we meet couples who are disenchanted by monogamous sex, deployed soldiers who seek entertainment and connection in porn, and prisoners held in solitary confinement, for whom boredom is a punishment for crimes they may or may not have committed.

With sharp wit and impressive historical acumen, Mann tells the unexpected story of the hunt for a deeper understanding of boredom, in all its absurd, irritating, and inspiring splendor.

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About the Author-
  • Mary Mann is the author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, The Believer and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 13, 2017
    With Mann’s choice of title, one might think she is damning her own tome, but this book of essays on boredom is anything but soporific. Exploring such different settings as the workplace, war zones, and libraries, Mann offers a witty and enjoyable discourse on a ubiquitous state of mind. Certain topics are universal—“All sorts of things went through my head,” she recalls of restaurant hostessing, “but nine times out of ten they turned into sexual fantasy.” She notes, as well, that boredom can lead to anger and loneliness. Another central theme is curiosity as the cure for boredom, as Mann demonstrates by pursuing varied and quirky subjects. One chapter extolls the virtues of naptime, naming tech giant Google as a notable proponent of the practice; another discusses how U.S. service members spent their downtime in Iraq. In each chapter, Mann discusses how a particular topic relates to her life, inviting readers to take an empathetic view of a common emotion and its myriad causes. Mann’s wit and honesty will draw readers in, relegating actual boredom to the back burner until they’ve finished reading.

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Adventures in Boredom
Mary Mann
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