What’s Your Dewey? 152.4 Boredom – a matter of perception

I’m bored… disconcerting but true. I am almost never bored! There is too much to do, to see, to think, to learn. We are used to children and teens being bored… constantly stating the fact, expecting their designated adult to rectify the situation. There are consequently many titles devoted to the ‘meaningful occupation’ of the young. I thought it might be interesting, if somewhat briefly, to see how many ways Dewey approaches the ‘I’m so bored, there’s nothing to do!’ lament. The most obvious response is in the the 790s where you will find titles on recreation.

200 Boredom Busters by Paul Scott aimed at children 8 years old and over, is what you might expect to find in a book designed to keep the young active and busy – the only problem is, while there is a lot to do, it still does not relieve this notion that boredom is some kind of beast to be conquered.

Busting boredom seems a popular theme – it appears consistently across many Dewey areas.  They include Boredom Busters for…  work, students, adults, older people, online and pets. They include activities in craft, the arts, in nature, travel, science and passive pursuits for older people. As such, they travel the Dewey range quite comprehensively. Below are a couple of such titles you can preview:

Boredom Busters for Birds: 40 Fun and Feather-Friendly Toys and Activities by Nikki Moustaki (636) Preview here: books.google.com.au

Busting Boredom with Experiments by Jennifer Swanson (520)
Preview here:  books.google.com.au

Despite all the great boredom busting  ideas an exploration of Dewey provides, there is, nonetheless, a sense of unfinished business with the topic. Fortunately, Dewey  accounts for that too. The 306s include a number of titles that tackle the topic of Boredom from a cultural perspective.

Working on the premise that ‘Life is a game’, Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of games by Ian Bogost looks at the way we engage in play, the rules and boundaries that play creates, and the function of inactivity (non-play time) in everyday life. Bogost tackles the topic from both contemporary and historical perspectives, and from the first chapter insists that anything can be ‘coaxed into releasing meaning and pleasure and joy… no matter how seemingly boring or stupid or meaningless.’ While there are some interesting observations in this book, it still tackles the subject of boredom in the context of doing or not doing, and suggesting ways to capitalise on the downtime. You can preview the book here:  books.google.com.au 

In an attempt to unravel the essence of boredom, I sought other Dewey approaches and that led me to 152.4 where a more scientific (aka psychological) approach is provided.
In The Science of Boredom: the upside (and downside) of downtime by Dr Sandi Mann, the causes and consequences of boredom in our fast-paced modern world are explored. While acknowledging that boredom can have some very negative effects, Mann also discusses how boredom can be a catalyst for reflection, humour or inspiration. According to Mann, we should embrace not avoid it – also according to Mann, we need to invest in device free time to invite it!

Some authors not only encourage us to embrace boredom, but suggest ways we can turn it into an artful occupation – an oxymoron perhaps? Eva Hoffman in How to be bored, encourages the all-too-busy, success-orientated individual, to ‘relish inactivity’ and find meaning in doing nothing – an opportunity to explore the richness of our inner lives.

Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi is another title that encourages us to allow ‘our minds wander’ because that is where ‘we do our most original thinking and problem solving.’ In her introduction to this book, Zomorodi states ‘Creativity… needs a push, and boredom, which allows new connections to form in our brain, is a most effective muse.’ The book outlines a program for improving our capacity for boredom. The 7-stepped program includes reviewing digital and media access habits; fakeaction days that are photo-free and when electronic messages are ignored. You can take a look inside here: www.amazon.com

Disappointingly, the crux of my boredom blues  remain elusive in this broad but brief sweep of Dewey. Clearly there is much to say about boredom and clearly there are many approaches to the topic. While I have only skimmed the surface of the topic, I weary of it and can only conclude that boredom is a matter of perception.


What’s Your Dewey? 790s Performance Arts: It’s all just an act after all.

With the Adelaide Fringe launch imminent, we are fast approaching what I like to call the time of Arts Frenzy in Adelaide. The Fringe is followed in quick succession by Womad, the Festival of Arts, Cabaret Fringe and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival… to name a few. The diversity of festivals is often a reflection on the diversity of culture we experience in our communities. Though varied, many festivals commonly invest in the performance arts as an integral part of sharing culture, and the way in which we use or identify with performance arts, is often  simultaneously public and powerfully personal.  A quick browse through the 790s is testament to how driven by individual perspective the topic can be… it depends where the spotlight aims!

Telling Stories: Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander Performance by Maryrose Casey looks at the historical performance practices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and how they have adapted and developed as an important medium for cross-cultural communication. Based on interviews and studies of contemporary theatre, this book is a landmark in its field of inquiry.  Telling Stories was the co-winner of the Robert Jordan Prize (Assoc. for the Study of Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies) and well worth a look for insights to our Indigenous performance arts.

Marina Abramovic has been described as ‘the grandmother of performance art’ and Walk through walls : a memoir  by Marina Abramovic (with James Kaplan), tells her  life story and provides deep insights into her five decade career. One of the quintessential artists of the postmodern era, Abramovic has collaborated with stars that include Lady Gaga and Jay-Z. The memoir is both engaging and confronting but maintains a wry humour throughout. A great mix of art and life in book and ebook formats, you can take a look inside here: Random House

The live art almanac. Volume 4 edited by Harriet Curtis, Lois Keidan and Aaron Wright,

draws together writing about Live Art – aka: interdisciplinary, performance-based art from around the world between 2012-2014. Over 40 artists are represented in the Volume, (from Joan Rivers to Wu Tsang to Pussy Riot), with seven themed sections that include High art in low places; Performance under attack; Show me the money and Dearly departed. With a diverse range of practitioners in dance, film, performance writers and digital mediums included, Live Art is  artist-centric and represents the blurring of socio-political cultural expression. A go-to book for ground-breaking performance art with the ‘aim of being a useful resource and an enjoyable read for everyone’ (from the Introduction). Take a quick look here: www.booktopia.com.au

Sticky fingers : the life and times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone magazine by Joe Hagan is drawn from Hagan’s many interviews with Wenner, and tells how Wenner’s drive and ambition captured the youth culture of rock and roll that would last for fifty years.  Featuring  interviews with rock legends (Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Dan Aykroyd, Bette Midler, for example) Hagan captures Wenner’s extraordinary rise to become the voice of popular counter-culture in the’60s to ‘celebrity-culture’ in later years. You can read some reviews here: https://www.joehagan.net/reviews

The Actor’s Life : A Survival Guide by Jenner Fischer.  Best known for her role as Pam Beesly in the acclaimed television show The Office, Fisher shares her insights on what it takes to establish yourself as an actor. With candor and wit, she relates her own 8 year long experiences in the pursuit of work, which began as a naive 22 year old with a theatre degree from St Louis. She provides invaluable advice on how to get the right head shot, what to look for in representation, and the importance of getting out there and just doing something. In this biographical guide for would-be performers, Fischer spells out the rudiments of getting established, using stories from her own experience. The six-chaptered guide includes sections on Getting started; How to find, get, keep an agent or manager and Auditioning, rejection and how to persevere. Easy to read and follow with pertinent quotes and images, you can preview here: www.booktopia.com.au

The 790s feature many gems that cover a full range of performance arts,  and the very act of browsing the shelves – actual or digital – becomes a performance in itself. So…  if ‘All The world’s a stage’, it’s all just an act after all.

How Does That Work? Your Next Great Read/Watch…

So you’ve just finished the last episode of Game of Thrones or the latest installment from Robert Jordan, Janet Evanovich or James Patterson and you’re looking for something else to borrow from the library.  How do you find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for?  There are some great links that us library staff use when trying to suggest books, TV series or movies for our customers and I’ll list them below so you can use them to find your next great read or viewing.

Confused Lady

Fantastic Fiction is a brilliant fiction database for people trying to follow an author through their bibliography or get a series in the correct order.  Containing bibliographies for over 40,000 authors and information about 500,000 books means you should find what you’re looking for.  Get a complete list of titles by the author with book cover illustrations, information about the authors and author recommendations. Fantastic Fiction

Internet Movie Database is a huge database, bursting at the seams with information, links, videos and images of movies, TV series, animations, actors/actresses, directors and more.  Watched a series recently and thought you recognised an actress? Search the movie on here and you’ll get a list of characters/actors that are linked to their own biographies on the site.  It can get a bit like falling down the rabbit hole when one links leads to another and another and so on.  You can join the community to add reviews to movies and find lists of other community members recommendations to watch.  Check out when movies are set to hit the cinema or be released onto DVD or BluRay.  IMDB

Which Book Selector is a nifty little website that gives you options to set parameters then it’ll give you recommendations based on your input. Keep changing your settings and scroll through the lists to find something that piques your interest.  You can look through the created lists the website give as well.

And you can always check out the Gawler Library’s online catalogue for new book suggestions which scroll along under the search area and our blog here has many suggestions for non-fiction books from our What’s Your Dewey series.

Storytime at Gawler Fringe

STREAM into Storytime at this year’s Gawler Fringe.
Join the Gawler Library for an exploration of science, technology and arts through reading, song and craft-making. An interactive and fun session for children up to 6 years. FREE muffin from Poetic Justice Cafe for each child that participates in Storytime. Starts at 9am Sunday, February 18th. See you there!

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