Shelf Help: 'Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster? The Myths and Misery, Secrets and Psychology of Waiting in Line'

A lens for examining one of life's biggest questions.
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A lens for examining one of life's biggest questions.
Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster? (Photo: Workman Publishing)

Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster? (Photo: Workman Publishing)

Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster? The Myths and Misery, Secrets and Psychology of Waiting in Line
David Andrews
Workman Publishing

Few features of American society seem as natural (to us, at least) as our lines, which are so common that they’re easy to think of as a built-in human reflex, like breathing or chewing. Not so, argues longtime line obsessive David Andrews. Line-forming is hardly a universal practice, and many societies use different sorting mechanisms. Even in England, the supposed world capital of line-standing, the queue was a foreign concept as recently as 1837. Surveying academic, literary, and pop culture reflections on the line from throughout history and across the world, Andrews finds in this most banal of practices a lens for one of life’s biggest questions: Who gets what, and in what order? The line awaits its definitive book-length treatment—the research here is presented completely sans footnotes, for one thing—but this is a fine start. Just the thing for making time in line fly by.

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