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NPR Arts & Life

Day In, Day Out: Three Not-At-All-Boring Books On Tedium

A bored man slumps on a table.

Consider how many synonyms there are for tedium: boredom, monotony, uniformity, dreariness, ennui, listlessness, each with its own subtle nuances. Perhaps it says something about our society that we must differentiate between the boredom of the office cubicle and of the traffic jam.

None of the authors below set out to write a book about tedium, but hovering always just behind the scenes is that debilitating affliction, sluggish and repetitious, playing a central role in their lives.

One of the enlightening things about these three books is how the experience of tedium is a condition of the human body, marked by some form of physical confinement or limitation — even if it's self-imposed, in the case of Shapiro. Ultimately, it's up to the mind to try to find an escape hatch.

And that's how books happen.

Said Sayrafiezadeh is the author ofBrief Encounters with the Enemy.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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