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Books

Yawn

9780374535841 fc
Paperback, FSG Originals, 2017

“An exhilarating tour of apathy, restlessness, torpor, depression, paralysis and the places in between” (Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches), Mary Mann’s Yawn: Adventures in Boredom is an incisive and often hilarious story of one of our most interesting cultural phenomena: boredom.

With sharp wit and impressive historical acumen, Mary Mann tells the unexpected story of the hunt for a deeper understanding of boredom, in all its absurd, irritating, and inspiring splendor. Deftly wrought from interviews, research, and personal experience, Yawn follows Mann’s search through history for the truth about boredom, spanning the globe and introducing a varied cast of characters.

We meet the Desert Fathers, fourth-century Christian monks who made their homes far from civilization and who offer the first recorded accounts of lethargy; Thomas Cook, grandfather of the tourism industry, who provided escape from the mundane for England’s working class; modern 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.

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  • "I am now compelled to specify the two commodities that I most cherish in nonfiction: 1) lots and lots of authorial voice and, 2) a modicum of surprise . . . Ms. Mann has both these qualities in spades. By trade a researcher (“like being a private detective, without the danger and the sex”), the delightful Ms. Mann comes off as a funny, very hip nerd."

    Hebry Alford, New York Times
  • "Mann's research traces several fascinating ways boredom has shaped social development and habits . . . [Mann] manages to avoid the biggest pitfall of a book on boredom—she doesn't solve it."

    Genevieve Valentine, NPR.org
  • "[A] brief and lively book of reported sketches on [boredom] . . . I was never bored reading Yawn."

    Mary Athitakis, Barnes & Noble Review
  • "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 . . . Mann's wit and honesty will draw readers in, relegating actual boredom to the back burner until they've finished reading."

    Publishers Weekly
  • "[An] engaging, essayistic examination"

    Kirkus
  • "A lively exploration of a subject that's a lot less boring than you might expect it to be."

    Booklist
  • “An exhilarating tour of apathy, restlessness, torpor, depression, paralysis and the places in between—all without a single longueur. Beautifully done.”

    Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches
  • "Especially in interesting times, we need books by writers as nimble-minded and searching as Mary Mann. YAWN is fleet-footed and wise, grounded by Mann's methodical curiosity. Mann possesses that rare, rare thing—a big-hearted mind."

    Heidi Julavits, author of The Folded Clock