The Art of Noticing

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

It is so true that we don't notice things, and since starting the 100 plus activities it has made me more mindful. I am going to continue with them, and hopefully my family will too. I pleasant read which I enjoyed.
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Unfortunately I did not finish this book. 
It did not make sense and was not written well, in standard English.
I cannot review this any further
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I'm not normally into self help books but decided to give this a go. Really helpful and really does give you plenty of ideas to help in a go, go, go world.
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Rob Walker has written a book about how we go through our lives without seeing the things around us. He produces a list of exercises we can do - many fairly easily - to increase our awareness and genuinely “notice” the things we pass regularly. Some are simply to look at things rather than at our screens and some are more complex but among the 131 ways, are tips for everyone whether you are creative or not. We can look around and notice the letters of the alphabet and “collect them all”. I like the idea of going to a gallery and sitting with a painting for 10 minutes as opposed to just looking at it and moving on. This is a call to mindfulness in our everyday lives and would be easy for anyone to answer.

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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My apologies if what follows comes over as a self-congratulatory review of myself, that is just the way this book works for me.

There I am sitting by the window and, for too long, the weather has been dull and overcast with not a glimmer of sun. Suddenly, the clouds break and the sun comes shining through. It uplifts, makes me feel good and that maybe all the world is not going to hell in a handcart.

That is just the effect this book has had on me. It has been cathartic to read as my head has been nodding up and down and up and down on almost every single page. This book reflects much of the way I "see" the world. I feel that I look and see and listen and hear and it is great to find that I am not the only one.

p.s. I am not really apologising. :-) 

Read the book, with good fortune it will resonate as much for you as it did/does for me.
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The Art of Noticing offers 131 exercises designed to enhance our awareness and mindfulness. Some exercises are very simple and straightforward whereas others would require planning and time so Rob Walker has provided a difficulty 'rating' for each. The book is divided into themes and would be easy to dip into for those interested in specific ways of noticing, for example, through looking or through communicating with others. I found that many of the exercises appealed to me and the book has given me new ideas to incorporate into my own life. A highly interesting and enjoyable read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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A very interesting book. A book which I have spent dipping into from time to time and found that enjoyable and informative. It wouldn’t have suited me to read it methodically from page 1 and then working my way through it and it’s style and layout encourages a bit of random selection from headings. Worth reading.
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This is a well presented and structured book that does exactly what one would expect. The activities are rated so you know which ones are the more challenging in terms of effort and time and I enjoyed dipping into it as it helped me pay attention and notice more. I fear that I am not as 'present' as I should be and this book has helped me to slow down and think about my surroundings and my place within them,
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As a Mental health Nurse I found this book a valuable tool that I can not only use on myself but also recommend to some of my service users.  Todays world is so busy, loud and full of screen time. Reading this has taught me new skills. Brilliant!
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The art of noticing... in today's modern age we can all be guilty of being distracted by technology and with stress and depression on the rise it seems beneficial for people to take the time to step back and become more mindful 

The book goes on to suggest activities that will help regain the lost art of noticing. Some suggestions are a bit silly whereas others make a lot of sense and are things that I will try to incorporate into every day life.... the trouble is remembering to do these things!
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Full of helpful and practical advice for anyone who finds themselves overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Simple mindfulness for city-dwellers, though not for anyone looking to begin a meditation practice.
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This book is split into five main chapters: Looking, Sensing, Going pkaces, Connecting with others and Being alone.  Each chapter comes with ideas you can try to get you noticing more.

A great book to dip in and out of to see things differently such as playing a game called "buy, burn or steal" in a museum or when your are out and about, look up - this is something I do already; I like to spot ghost signs on the sides if buildings.  

There is something for everyone in this book, somethings you could involve the kids with in journeys too, with friends at a museum or others you can do alone.

I received this book from netgalley in return for a honest review.
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An interesting selection of tools and ideas useful for sparking your creativity. This is a book best dipped into rather than read from cover to cover and as such it would stay fresh for quite a while. I don't feel there is a lot new here, actually, particularly if you've read The Artist's Way and similar, but it is a useful book of prompts if you've not done this sort of thing before. I liked the organisation of the prompts into different sense themes (seeing, listening etc). It appears to be aimed at those living a fast-paced, city life, so if that's you, have at it.
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A most enjoyable book full of interesting exercises and challenging ideas. Not one to read from cover to cover, but great to dip into. Really makes you slow down and think - a different sort of mindfulness,view suppose.
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I am a counselling student and was intrigued to read this, unfortunately for me, i didnt learn anything, but thats because i see it from a counsellors perspective and ive read it all before. 

If you have never had a self help book before then you will really like this, it has great tips and tricks, is easy to read and will give you tools to change your behaviour for a peaceful and stress free life.
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This was a delightful as well as educating read focusing on the concepts of attention and concentration. The writer, Rob Walker, offers 131 concentration/observation examples, or as Walker puts it "131 opportunities for joyous exploration in all its dimensions, that one can practice in his everyday life". In another page he states: "Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight, it is the only weapon we have against power". Apart from that, there is an interesting introduction in which Walker analyzes the notion of paying attention and its vital importance for human beings. There is a number of references on other, academics or not, writers whose work on the subject help the readers to understand what is the point of "the art of noticing".

One can see "The Art of Noticing" as a useful guide for all who wish to take another step in the direction of mindfulness and enhancing conscientiousness. Some of the concentration exercises, or "thought experiments" as Walker defines them, are really challenging and intriguing. Personally, I can't wait to follow some of the most stimulating ones and I firmly believe that they will prove to be truly helpful. The number one enemy for a keen observer is distraction which can take many forms, especially today in an age where the subject is exposed to an overwhelming amount of information through the web and mass media.

If you are zealous supporter of self-improvement and you are interested on new ways of strengthening your mind, this is definitely the most pertinent book which, furthermore, offers many references for those who are fascinated by and want to delve deeper into the subject.
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The curse put on reviewers is that we get to read through a book which is really better dipped into, or read gradually and thoughts allowed to be provoked. And so it was with The Art of Noticing. It's a simple premise: the pace of modern life and rapidity of technological advances means that we are constantly overwhelmed and distracted. Rob Walker wants us to be able to steal our attention back. He gives us his thoughts on various areas of our lives and then provides 131 exercises to help us recover our attention.

Be patient with the book. He suggests that we walk with the intention of looking for something in particular: the ideas given include standpipes and pay phones. I'm into my eighth decade and I can't recollect that I've ever seen a standpipe: it's an American thing. I saw a pay phone when I was on holiday and was tempted to take a photo: there certainly isn't one in the village where I live. But this is to miss the point of the book. We don't need to look for the items he suggests: we should develop our own ideas. In spring I regularly take a walk around the village where I live with the sole purpose of looking for magnolia trees. It's delightful.

The tasks which he suggests are divided by difficulty. One eye is so easy that anyone can do this right now. Two eyes suggest that the task is doable but might take some planning or forethought. Three eyes mean that the task is enjoyably challenging. Four eyes and you're going to have an adventure. I've taken up a one-eye task – to notice something new about something I do regularly. It's surprising what you see. I also like the buy, burn or steal game which you can play in museums. In fact I found the tasks situated in museums exciting – and I don't like museums. Go figure.

A two-eye task – counting with the numbers you see – is a variation of a game we used to play as children. We used to find car numbers in sequence and there was quite a competition to see who was looking for the highest number. I had to stop when I became obsessive!

There's a three-eye task which involves looking at something really, really slowly. In this case it's suggested that you could look at a work of art for three hours. I'm not certain that I would be willing to invest three hours but I have been surprised by what I've never seen before in pictures which have hung in our living room for over a decade.

I was surprised to find a four-eye task quite easy and very rewarding. It's called imbue your world with god spirits. I thought it was going to be about religion and nearly passed it by, but it isn't. It's about imbuing everyday objects with their own little god. Focus on one thing and search for the sacred within it. Try it.

Essentially, the book's about mindfulness and you could say that other books do it better. I doubt that you'd have as much fun though!

I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy of the book available to the Bookbag.
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I dipped in and out of this book whenever I had time to spare. I'm not a great fan of self help books on the whole though there are some interesting ideas in this book.
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So the question is, are those 131 exercises really surprising and innovative? Can I envisage myself taking part in any of them, or a close alternative that would be a better fit for my own lifestyle and personality?

The answer to the first question is – yes. All the exercises are slightly off the wall and unusual, requiring a shift from everyday thinking – to the extent that some of them are used to help art students hone an alternative, original view of the world. Some of my favourites include the one inspired by writer Paul Lukas, who likes to discover the backstory of everyday objects in an activity he calls ‘inconspicuous consumption’, by asking ‘how did it get that way?’. I also like the exercise Brian Rea uses of making lists of immaterial things – such as the things he is worried about, memorable moments during a dinner party, the bars he visited when living in Stockholm. None of the above remotely appeal, but I’m attracted to the idea of making a list of the flowers blooming in my garden, along with the date when they first appeared, for instance. Another exercise I particularly like is making a glossary of unfamiliar vocabulary that exist within a specific expertise, by asking people for terms within their work life that don’t regularly come up in everyday usage.

There were a number of exercises that left me cold – one was to record a couple of minutes of activity on your smartphone and write a poem, or description of it, after viewing it repeatedly to ensure you absorb all the minutest details. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, it just didn’t appeal.

What I appreciate is that Walker has taken pains to spread these exercises across the widest spectrum of interests and sensory input. There are exercises that appeal to our visual senses – like the above, for instance. There are exercises involving sound-mapping the surrounding environment, with some ingenious variations; exercises involving drawing or painting; and using modern technology to make short films of the day objects you touch every day. In short, whoever you are and whatever your particular strengths and inclination, I think you’ll find something in this book that you could use or adapt. And that was something else I really like – there is no sense in which Walker is at all dogmatic about any of the suggested exercises. He frequently suggests variations and at the end of the book actively encourages his readers to find different ways to put this approach in place.

These exercises are all designed to help us reset ourselves within our environment, so that we focus on the immediacy of existing in the way we’ve done for millennia – the way we’re designed to do. I will be campaigning for the hard copy edition of this book for my upcoming birthday, as the ebook isn’t a particularly friendly medium for browsing and flipping back and forth. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to reconnect with their surroundings in any way.
10/10
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This might be a useful book for teachers to use with students who need to hone their observational, or mindfulness, skills.  Art students, perhaps.  For the rest of us, there are some good ideas but I didn’t find anything particularly original.  Take time to smell the flowers, listen to birdsong, absorb your surroundings.  All good advice, if not groundbreaking.

With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House / Ebury Press for a review copy.
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