No snooze is bad snooze

Oct 18, 2000 at 12:00 am

Sure, you try and review a book that’s actually meant to put you to sleep. You can’t even make all those snarky comments reviewers save for the worst kinds of yawners, like “Better than Nyquil,” “A sure sleeper” or “It fell out of my sleeping hand.”

Insomniac author Ellen Sue Stern decided to compile a book containing all the most boring texts she could possibly find. She’s done a good job: The first night, I got through four pages, the second night — five pages. The third night, I decided to really put it to the test: I hit the sack early and breezed through 40 or so pages. Clearly, there are some circumstances under which this book works better than others.

The trick Stern had to negotiate was how to make the book interesting enough that readers would choose it instead of, say, the Plow & Hearth catalogue, but dull enough to achieve its intended purpose. Hence, its contents actually are kind of fascinating, especially if, like me, you’ve been known to read cereal boxes and product instruction manuals just for the heck of it.

That being said (and any comments about my geekiness being tactfully withheld), Yawn! contains some nifty info. You can read about NASA’s Fatigue Countermeasures program, which discovered that airline pilots function better on long flights if they take naps (talk about rubbing it in; these clearly not-insomniac pilots can actually doze off in their seats). Or think about all the different kinds of night jobs there are. Calculate calories, fiber content and your income taxes. Read what John Glenn said as he was returning to Earth (the first time). Or what Bill Clinton said as he stood before the grand jury. Or how to improve your golf strategy, your office management technique or …

Bored yet? Just wait till the movie.