Cover Image: The Art of Noticing

The Art of Noticing

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Member Reviews

I should really avoid self-improvement books because they often state the obvious and just annoy me. This was no exception. Written by a city dwelling American man with a busy lifestyle, it had little relevance to me and my life. Unfortunately, I do not have close access to art galleries, museums, etc, not living near a big city. Not many of the exercises took my interest, and some of them were phrased in an annoyingly vague way, e.g. make an inventory of  - things you touch; / all your possessions"! and were not always relevant to the examples he gives. "Noticing things" is just another way of saying mindfulness, and there are better books out there on this subject.
Finally, I do not think you can go around photographing or  filming people without permission!
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I didn't know I needed this book until I experienced it.

One of the quotes cited at the start of the book from economist Herb Simon warns: "A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention". Given that quote is from 1971, imagine what Herb must be thinking now. 

The 130 exercises given in the book (I have so far completed approximately 20 of these and look forward to the remainder) aim to provide "an escape from the cult of productivity and efficiency" by encouraging the reader to be more curious without the need to be so eternally (and often unnecessarily) busy.  It makes the point that as individuals we might want to look back on a life of discovery, rather than an existence that requires items to be ticked off a list. The exercises are ranked in terms of difficulty, with one eye representing a fairly straightforward task that anyone can do anytime and at the other end of the spectrum, four eyes indicate an advanced noticing task that might take a bit of planning.  The tasks are not given in that order in the book, so you can dip in and out as you please without the need to be too linear about it.

Following discussions in our house about the constant use of technology and the corresponding lack of focus we tend to have in relation to our immediate surroundings (checking the phone while walking, allowing Google to remember things for us, etc) this book allowed me to think about some ways of managing those issues, or at least taking a time-out from them. It was a breath of fresh air.

The book is one I will certainly be purchasing for friends. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House, Ebury Publishing and Rob Walker for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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