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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the number-one New York Times mega-best seller Inside of a Dog comes an equally smart, delightful, and startling exploration of how we perceive and discover our world.

Alexandra Horowitz’s brilliant On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinary - to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, "the observation of trifles". On Looking is structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes, mostly in her Manhattan neighborhood, with experts on a diverse range of subjects, including an urban sociologist, the well-known artist Maira Kalman, a geologist, a physician, and a sound designer. She also walks with a child and a dog to see the world as they perceive it. What they see, how they see it, and why most of us do not see the same things reveal the startling power of human attention and the cognitive aspects of what it means to be an expert observer.

As the million-plus readers of Inside of a Dog have discovered, Alexandra Horowitz is charmingly adept at explaining the mysteries of human perception. Trained as a cognitive scientist, she discovers a feast of fascinating detail, all explained with her generous humor and self-deprecating tone. On Looking presents the same engaging combination, this time in service to understanding how human beings encounter their daily worlds and one another.

Page by page, Horowitz shows how much more there is to see - if only we would really look. On Looking is nutrition for the considered life, serving as a provocative response to our relentlessly virtual consciousness. So turn off the phone and other electronic devices and be in the real world - where strangers communicate by geometry as they walk toward one another, where sounds reveal shadows, where posture can display humility, and the underside of a leaf unveils a Lilliputian universe - where, indeed, there are worlds within worlds within worlds.

Alexandra Horowitz’s On Looking confirms her place as one of today’s most illuminating observers of our infinitely complex world.

©2013 Alexandra Horowitz (P)2013 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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One of the best books I've read

I binge listened to this book while I was cleaning for a rent inspection and I absolutely loved it. The concept and creation of the book is not only incredibly interesting and informative, but the insight that it gives into things that I never even thought about was a mindset change in itself. This would make the best tv series.

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  • Freddy
  • 12-01-2013

Cataract Surgery for the Senses

Any additional comments?

As a trauma nurse out in Afghanistan, I experienced the death of a friend firsthand. He had passed away on route to our location and so all we could do was prepare his body for his journey home. After this moment, in time, I came to reject all my adolescent views on reality in search of objective truths. Those ideas shared between both science and religion, in order to see how others view the world.

I typed in "looking" on the Audible search engine and found this book. How lucky was I.

There is something about the "ding" moments in life where we put the puzzle pieces together. Only our puzzle is filled with thousands upon thousands of separate bits of information and often looking in the strangest places will reveal this puzzle we call reality. This book shows how others see the world and helps us get into the mind of interesting individuals.

For myself, a much deeper meaning emerges from her words.

There are so many fights between the sciences and religion. While I subscribe more to the former, this book shows how ignorant we are to the majority of the events around us. I am now forced to bite my tongue, listen, and understand the other to find common ground while noticing the differences between myself and others.

Ultimately, her perception further teaches us to notice the intricacies in life. The dull commute to work is now a dazzling spectacle, where one can even find beauty in a rock.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Duane
  • 09-11-2013

Promising, not quite ready for prime time.

Alexadra Horowitz is a brilliant scholar who works on interesting stuff, knows it, and wants to do something few scholars do: share it with the rest of us. Like Chet Raymo's "The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe" or David Haskell's "The Forest Unseen," she asks us to pay close attention to that small part of the world closest at hand, and thus most likely to be overlooked. Ms. Horowitz does so by bringing experts of various sorts along on walks around her block, and weaves together their insights on what lies beyond the eyeball with her own expertise into what's going on behind it. For all those reasons, I was looking forward to "On Looking." Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish listening to it.

As a writer, Ms. Horowitz tries too hard, like an earnest undergraduate who's fallen in love with language for the first time, discovered the thesaurus, and can't wait to use all the new words she's found there. Her love seems to spill over into her narration. She seems to be more focused on making sure that each of those lovely words is enunciated as clearly as possible with little awareness of the rhythm and flow of complete sentences, much less the broader arcs of paragraphs. Other reviewers seem to like this, and I really wish I could've gotten beyond it, but to my ear the overall result sounds overly pretentious and entirely too precious.

I hope Ms. Horowitz will keep sharing her world with us, mature into as good of a writer as she is a scholar, and leave the reading to a more skilled narrator who can bring her words to life.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 27-01-2013

not much to see, but a mellifluous narration

The content of this book did not move me at all.....far too much about the lovely infant child which the author justifiably adores. However, I was pulled in by the wonderful narration, which was so pleasant, I continued listening to the end.

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  • Tony and Erica
  • 09-03-2013

Great Topic, Writing & Narration. Poor Editing

I really enjoyed this book because I am fascinated with the subject of how viewpoint shapes the world for the viewer. This book seems tailor made for me.

The writing is engaging, and the narration is refreshingly excellent for books narrated by the author. I would give Horowitz five stars for narration, but sadly, Audible does not let me separate performance and production.

My only quibble is with the editor. Some sentences feature a long pause for no particular reason. Other gaps are rushed. Horowitz's rhythm is quite good, but I suspect the editor grew complacent and forgot that some pauses are not intentional (pausing for a drink, the pause before a punch in, etc) and left them in without really listening.

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  • Benjamin Battles
  • 24-02-2021

looking

well written, good narration. enjoyed the varying perspectives from the author describing the experts that accompanied her on the journey

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  • Kim B.
  • 23-01-2021

What a Way with Words

I enjoyed every one of her 11 walks and will take my next walk with new eyes (and ears)

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  • J. Polkowske
  • 16-09-2020

Detailed look at new ways to look at things

This is a book about how to observe things you might not observe, and treats the subject with an academic regard that is easy to follow and easy to get into, but also fascinating because she gets experts in different fields to point out the things their very trained eyes and ears notice that people who aren't trained would never see, or couldn't identify correctly. I highly recommend it, you'll undoubtedly learn something.

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  • Jason
  • 14-09-2020

this was my first audible listen.

this was a really enjoyable first listen. wish in had downloaded sooner! I loved it!

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  • Avery Mello-Martinez
  • 05-02-2020

Good concept, but not for me.

I liked the premise, but ended up pretty bored and couldn't finish. I can definitely see other people liking it, but it felt a bit repetitive and just couldn't keep my focus.

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  • Liz
  • 14-05-2019

I've not stopped talking about this book

Fascinating topic, engagingly discussed with a lively narration. I see many negative reviews - and usually I'm a very picky listener, but I found the ideas in this book captivating. I've spent a lot of time thinking about it since I finished it a few weeks back. One of the best books I've read so far this year

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  • Mrs
  • 26-05-2014

I tried!

I was really keen to listen to this as I had read the author's book about understanding dogs. I had also seen this book referred to as one of the top ten books that should be read. The first three accounts of walks were interesting and then it became too samey. The author's voice is monotonous too and that doesn't help. I tried to return the book but the system wouldn't let me and said I had to ring audible customer service. As I didn't want to spend ages on the phone possibly justifying why I didn't like it , I decided to plod through to the end. And that's all it is now, a plod. I'm sorry, I tried.

2 people found this helpful

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