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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Respect Your Elder: Eva Hoffman

#RespectYourElders: Polish-American author Eva Hoffman (born 1945) was recently featured on NPR to promote her latest book, “How to be Bored.”

“How to Be Bored” is part a series of self-help publications from The School of Life. It centers on the idea that that in an age where people feel the need to constantly fill their lives with small distractions, feeling bored isn’t such a bad thing. Hoffman noticed that the act of repeatedly checking her email made her feel “strangely frayed and dissatisfied after a while,” and that while these distracting tasks gave her the “illusion of doing something, of accomplishing something,” she knew that she was “simply wasting time.”

“How to Be Bored” discusses both the history of leisure and the idea that the more people distract themselves with tasks like scrolling through their phones or turning on the TV for background noise, the more they lose the ability to concentrate and be introspective. So the next time you’re feeling bored, fight the urge to immediately open up Facebook. Instead, go for a walk or try journaling.

Hoffman was born in Krakow, Poland, before emigrating at age 13 to Vancouver. She studied English literature at Rice University, Yale School of Music and Harvard. She received her Ph.D. in English and American literature in 1975, and has since published eight books.

Several of her books focus on her eastern European roots. Her first published work, an autobiography titled “Lost in Translation: Life in a New Language,” is a narrative her adjustment to American life as a Polish immigrant. As her parents were Holocaust survivors, she has also published on the Holocaust and the history eastern Europe. She has also written other non-fiction books similar to “How to Be Bored.” For example, “Time,” published in 2009, is a collection of essays on the nature of time.

Listen to Eva’s NPR interview or read the transcript here.

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