The Art of Noticing: Rediscover What Really Matters to You by Rob Walker
|The Art of Noticing: Rediscover What Really Matters to You by Rob Walker|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's essentially a self-help book about mindfulness. It's a quick read, but probably a book which should be dipped into rather than read through and some of it is very thought-provoking. It's fun too.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: May 2019|
|Publisher: Ebury Press|
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.
You might also like to try My Year in Small Drawings: Notice, Draw, Appreciate by Matilda Tristram, The Shrink and The Sage by Julian Baggini and Antonia Macaro or One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Gillian Coutts.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Art of Noticing: Rediscover What Really Matters to You by Rob Walker at Amazon.com.
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