Mary Mann '14 to Publish Essay Collection on Boredom

April 29, 2017

Mary Mann ’14, a Writing Program alumna, will publish her first book, a collection of essays called Yawn: Adventures in Boredom, in May.

The book draws on interviews, research, and the author’s personal experience to examine the phenomenon of boredom. According to the publisher, Mann looks at examples as varied as “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.”

Early reviews have praised the book as “anything but soporific” (Publishers Weekly), “engaging” (Kirkus Reviews), and “lively” (Booklist). Stacy Schiff, a writer of popular history books and an adjunct professor in the writing program, calls the book an “exhilarating tour of apathy, restlessness, torpor, depression, paralysis and the places in between―all without a single longueur.”

Mann’s writing has previously appeared in the New York TimesSmithsonianThe Believer and The Los Angeles Review of Books.