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The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday

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An imaginative, thought-provoking gift book to awaken your senses and attune them to the things that matter in your life. Welcome to the era of white noise. Our lives are in constant tether to phones, to email, and to social media. In this age of distraction, the ability to experience and be present is often lost: to think and to see and to listen. Enter Rob Walker's The Art An imaginative, thought-provoking gift book to awaken your senses and attune them to the things that matter in your life. Welcome to the era of white noise. Our lives are in constant tether to phones, to email, and to social media. In this age of distraction, the ability to experience and be present is often lost: to think and to see and to listen. Enter Rob Walker's The Art of Noticing. This gorgeously illustrated volume will spark your creativity--and most importantly, help you see the world anew. Through a series of simple and playful exercises--131 of them--Walker maps ways for you to become a clearer thinker, a better listener, a more creative workplace colleague and finally, to rediscover your sense of passion and to notice what really matters to you.


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An imaginative, thought-provoking gift book to awaken your senses and attune them to the things that matter in your life. Welcome to the era of white noise. Our lives are in constant tether to phones, to email, and to social media. In this age of distraction, the ability to experience and be present is often lost: to think and to see and to listen. Enter Rob Walker's The Art An imaginative, thought-provoking gift book to awaken your senses and attune them to the things that matter in your life. Welcome to the era of white noise. Our lives are in constant tether to phones, to email, and to social media. In this age of distraction, the ability to experience and be present is often lost: to think and to see and to listen. Enter Rob Walker's The Art of Noticing. This gorgeously illustrated volume will spark your creativity--and most importantly, help you see the world anew. Through a series of simple and playful exercises--131 of them--Walker maps ways for you to become a clearer thinker, a better listener, a more creative workplace colleague and finally, to rediscover your sense of passion and to notice what really matters to you.

30 review for The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    This is quite an interesting read though am not sure if I will do the exercises as I'm quite lazy that way. There are 131 exercises designed to get us to notice more of what's going on round about us and get our noses out of the moderne technology we have at our fingertips today. I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing and the author Rob Walker for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is quite an interesting read though am not sure if I will do the exercises as I'm quite lazy that way. There are 131 exercises designed to get us to notice more of what's going on round about us and get our noses out of the moderne technology we have at our fingertips today. I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing and the author Rob Walker for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    The Art of Noticing is essentially another mindfulness reference guide but it approaches how we become mindful in relatively innovative new ways and these are compiled in the book as 131 different exercises. Each exercise aims to make the reader more consciously aware and to help them notice more about life that may usually pass them by. They are graded by level of difficulty from easy right through to advanced. Mr Walker emphasises the need to pay attention to the world around us and to firmly The Art of Noticing is essentially another mindfulness reference guide but it approaches how we become mindful in relatively innovative new ways and these are compiled in the book as 131 different exercises. Each exercise aims to make the reader more consciously aware and to help them notice more about life that may usually pass them by. They are graded by level of difficulty from easy right through to advanced. Mr Walker emphasises the need to pay attention to the world around us and to firmly plant ourselves in the present. This is an interesting book and you can tell a lot of work and research went into producing it. Recommended to those who are seeking new and diverse ways to achieve mindfulness. Many thanks to Ebury Press for an ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Renegade ♥

    4 to 4 1/2 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adam Fearnall

    It's a bit of a strange thing to write a review before I've read every word of a book, but in this case I think that it's okay. I think that it's okay because this book is so practical that you'll probably put it down almost immediately (a strange endorsement for a book, admittedly). I started to read it on my morning commute and by the 7th page had already decided to put it away and start "noticing" things. Currently, I'm exploring my city for numbers, taking photographs of numbers as they reve It's a bit of a strange thing to write a review before I've read every word of a book, but in this case I think that it's okay. I think that it's okay because this book is so practical that you'll probably put it down almost immediately (a strange endorsement for a book, admittedly). I started to read it on my morning commute and by the 7th page had already decided to put it away and start "noticing" things. Currently, I'm exploring my city for numbers, taking photographs of numbers as they reveal themselves in the urban landscape. I often facilitate group discussions and strategy sessions; I'll return to this book often when looking for ways to quickly introduce people the joy of applying a lens and looking for patterns.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dimitris Passas (TapTheLine)

    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. He writes: "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 where Walker analyzes th 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. He writes: "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 where 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 and want to delve deeper into the subject. Finally, I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free ARC of this title.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    In this hi-tech, smart phone world, it's easy to not notice things around us. To look but not actually see. This book is a collection of 131 ways to change that. Some of the ideas take minutes and can be done immediately, while others take planning and more time. I dipped in and out, and while I didn't "perform" all these ideas, this is an interesting look at switching out of the regular brain patterns and noticing what is around us. I expect to dip into this one again in the future. In this hi-tech, smart phone world, it's easy to not notice things around us. To look but not actually see. This book is a collection of 131 ways to change that. Some of the ideas take minutes and can be done immediately, while others take planning and more time. I dipped in and out, and while I didn't "perform" all these ideas, this is an interesting look at switching out of the regular brain patterns and noticing what is around us. I expect to dip into this one again in the future.

  8. 5 out of 5

    S.J. Higbee

    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 t 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

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    "What is art but a way of seeing?" John Berger tells us. To make art, then, we need to see freshly, in different ways. This book is all about shifting your focus and looking at the world from a different angle, looking at things with a different focus. It's an ideal book for someone wanting to see the world anew. "What is art but a way of seeing?" John Berger tells us. To make art, then, we need to see freshly, in different ways. This book is all about shifting your focus and looking at the world from a different angle, looking at things with a different focus. It's an ideal book for someone wanting to see the world anew.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Roni Loren

    Enjoyed this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Definitely not for me. I’m not sure how this made it on my “to read” list, but maybe it is Squam related. I disliked it, but recognize that I’m probably not the intended audience, hence the three stars. If this is your sort of thing, you’ll probably enjoy it. The author writes, “Art is everywhere, if you say so.” Although I get it, my core strongly disagrees with this statement. I know artists and this theory really undermines their talent. One nice thing, actually stopped reading this at 20%, w Definitely not for me. I’m not sure how this made it on my “to read” list, but maybe it is Squam related. I disliked it, but recognize that I’m probably not the intended audience, hence the three stars. If this is your sort of thing, you’ll probably enjoy it. The author writes, “Art is everywhere, if you say so.” Although I get it, my core strongly disagrees with this statement. I know artists and this theory really undermines their talent. One nice thing, actually stopped reading this at 20%, which is something I never do. So, oddly empowering.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    This was a book of affirmation. Being a painfully shy, introverted child, I think I grew up already doing these things- noticing, going out of my way to look at different things-- or look at things differently. Challenging my oddly curious mind to make games out of things. To be learning something new, even if my surroundings seemingly didn't change much. (hint: they did, it just takes practice to quiet oneself and notice the changes.) As we get older it's easier to be busy, distracted, exhausted. This was a book of affirmation. Being a painfully shy, introverted child, I think I grew up already doing these things- noticing, going out of my way to look at different things-- or look at things differently. Challenging my oddly curious mind to make games out of things. To be learning something new, even if my surroundings seemingly didn't change much. (hint: they did, it just takes practice to quiet oneself and notice the changes.) As we get older it's easier to be busy, distracted, exhausted. To go on autopilot and forget to notice all the subtleties around us. But I think it's imperative to do so. It works our brains, keeps them nimble. And I believe it settles us somewhere deep inside-- builds our own happiness and contentment. If we allow it to do so. I wish this book could be placed in the hands of the population in general (or on their screens in front of them, since I see the majority looking down at their devices instead of looking up and around them.) Use ALL your senses. Favorite memory of listening within listening (done years ago): Turning off all the lights, putting on headphones, lying on the floor, listening to a favorite song on a loop. Not just to hear the music, the words (all of which I already knew so well): but to focus on the singer as he took a sharp inhale of breath before the beginning of each line of lyrics. It gave me goosebumps.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Zoé

    I picked this book expecting the exercises to focus more on creativity, but the emphasis was really on mindfulness. Still, I found many of the suggested exercises to be interesting and took note of some I'd like to try. I particularly liked the activities that were linked to artists and creators as they clearly showed how increased awareness of one's surrounding can inspire. Unfortunately, I read this book at the wrong time as many of the proposed tasks depend on going places. I picked this book expecting the exercises to focus more on creativity, but the emphasis was really on mindfulness. Still, I found many of the suggested exercises to be interesting and took note of some I'd like to try. I particularly liked the activities that were linked to artists and creators as they clearly showed how increased awareness of one's surrounding can inspire. Unfortunately, I read this book at the wrong time as many of the proposed tasks depend on going places.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Neha D'souza

    Walker provides 131 methods/ideas on how to hone the art of noticing one’s surroundings, paying attention to the mundane and observing what might otherwise be ignored. I personally believe that being observant is a great skill to have. I began to hone my observing powers years ago, after reading my first Sherlock Holmes book. Being observant is like being privy to a window that no one else can see. It’s like being the sole audience to a performance. Almost everyone is too consumed by their minds Walker provides 131 methods/ideas on how to hone the art of noticing one’s surroundings, paying attention to the mundane and observing what might otherwise be ignored. I personally believe that being observant is a great skill to have. I began to hone my observing powers years ago, after reading my first Sherlock Holmes book. Being observant is like being privy to a window that no one else can see. It’s like being the sole audience to a performance. Almost everyone is too consumed by their minds and their lives to take notice of things around them. Noticing the world around you not only stimulates creativity and broadens perspective, it also grounds you. Noticing is ultimately being mindful of yourself and what surrounds you. Rob Walker provides several exercises on noticing. For example: -Making an auditory map -Making lists -taking new routes -digging back stories While some of his suggested methods might not appeal to you, some of them might change the way you look at the world.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pauline Mountain

    In this year of lockdown and undefinable and invisible threat, this is a list of reasons to smile about the things we see so often we don't see them. How would I describe a 'stop' sign? Did I even notice before that the traffic arrows in the streets are painted by hand in this world of automated everything? Did I even see the small differences in the arrows? This is an invitation to notice again and marvel in the wonders around us that we've taken for granted. I needed this book right now. In this year of lockdown and undefinable and invisible threat, this is a list of reasons to smile about the things we see so often we don't see them. How would I describe a 'stop' sign? Did I even notice before that the traffic arrows in the streets are painted by hand in this world of automated everything? Did I even see the small differences in the arrows? This is an invitation to notice again and marvel in the wonders around us that we've taken for granted. I needed this book right now.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I found this to be a strangely touching book, I think because I recognized in this book many of the ways I try to and I wish to interact with the world. I didn’t expect much from it and even thought it might be cheesy (some of it was) or obvious (then again, we often forget the obvious), but there were many good suggestions. An added plus was the many people and ideas referenced throughout and the extensive bibliography of books at the back!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Val Robson

    There are 131 exercises in The Art of Noticing designed to get us to notice more, think more, listen more or just get us outside out comfort zone a little and explore new places and things.. They are ranked 1-4 in terms of difficulties in doing that exercise as some may require forward planning. This is really another 'mindfulness type book. I was left frequently asking myself 'why would I want to waste my life doing this' after reading some of the exercises. Do I have better things to do with m There are 131 exercises in The Art of Noticing designed to get us to notice more, think more, listen more or just get us outside out comfort zone a little and explore new places and things.. They are ranked 1-4 in terms of difficulties in doing that exercise as some may require forward planning. This is really another 'mindfulness type book. I was left frequently asking myself 'why would I want to waste my life doing this' after reading some of the exercises. Do I have better things to do with my life than note every manhole cover I can spot or to do a complete inventory of my possessions down to the sheets of printer paper and food items in my kitchen cupboards? "Yes I do" was my overwhelming response and was further left feeling aggrieved that I'd spent too much of my life reading this book, let alone doing any of the practical exercises. While I would welcome ways to encourage people to spend less time looking at phones, Internet or simply not paying attention to things and people because of distractions I think there are lot better way to achieve that than spending your time doing some of these exercises. With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel A. Dawson

    Big fan of this one— already added it to my Amazon cart so I can have a copy on hand whenever I need a creative boost! It’s chock full of exercises (from easy to more advanced) to help you really keep your eyes open, fuel your creative fire, and stay inspired, and I looooved it. I already put a few into action (and felt super validated by some I already do!) and found them so helpful and motivating.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim Belonax

    I love art assignments or prompts that encourage tangential looking/thinking, so this book was squarely in my wheelhouse. I love that you can read it straight through or cut to a page and read a passage or two. There are fun, thoughtful prompts that I believe would serve a lot of people some good.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wendy H.

    This is a truly brilliant book. It is not just a book to be read, but to do and to transform you. It is, essentially, a series of exercises, graded by difficulty, which help and encourage you to notice the things, and people, around you properly. As the author says, you can just read the book through from cover to cover but that defeats the purpose. Using the exercises allows you to free up the way you look at, and ultimately notice, things. Th exercises not only allow you to notice more deeply This is a truly brilliant book. It is not just a book to be read, but to do and to transform you. It is, essentially, a series of exercises, graded by difficulty, which help and encourage you to notice the things, and people, around you properly. As the author says, you can just read the book through from cover to cover but that defeats the purpose. Using the exercises allows you to free up the way you look at, and ultimately notice, things. Th exercises not only allow you to notice more deeply but, in the process, find out more about yourself. Many of the exercises use art, with good reason, as art provides he perfect medium for getting inside the painting. I particularly liked the exercise where you look from the point of view of different members of society. I can highly recommend this book if you want to go deeper into the world around you and discover a new appreciation for what it contains. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy of this book for review purposes. At no point was I asked to write a positive review. My rating and review are based on my reading and enjoyment of the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    There's a lot of good in this book, but audiobook wasn't the ideal way to consume it. (The ideal way would be to have a copy of the book plus another human being prodding you to do all of these activities!) I've always suffered from a weak episodic memory, so anything that would help me retain more of my own life is welcome. But these are rightly called exercises. Most of them would will involve at least some movement outside of my lazy comfort zone. Each activity is given a difficulty rating, wh There's a lot of good in this book, but audiobook wasn't the ideal way to consume it. (The ideal way would be to have a copy of the book plus another human being prodding you to do all of these activities!) I've always suffered from a weak episodic memory, so anything that would help me retain more of my own life is welcome. But these are rightly called exercises. Most of them would will involve at least some movement outside of my lazy comfort zone. Each activity is given a difficulty rating, which is a nice acknowledgement of that fact. I haven't gone back and done any of the exercises yet, but I plan to pick up a print copy of the book and do so. Eventually.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mell Aguiar

    This was such a cool book with a refreshingly new structure + clear/concise language Actually doing the stuff suggested was the fun part, though. For example, a couple days ago I walked down 17 flights of stairs and I actually got some really interesting pictures from it, like some red pipes that reminded me of a fire station and big lecture halls on the 6th floor with floor to ceiling windows. I also have voice memos of the most random things on my phone now, my favorite being of when I recorde This was such a cool book with a refreshingly new structure + clear/concise language Actually doing the stuff suggested was the fun part, though. For example, a couple days ago I walked down 17 flights of stairs and I actually got some really interesting pictures from it, like some red pipes that reminded me of a fire station and big lecture halls on the 6th floor with floor to ceiling windows. I also have voice memos of the most random things on my phone now, my favorite being of when I recorded the creaking wooden floorboards at a bookstore and got someone quietly singing along to the soul music in the background 😭😭 And a notebook full of drawings that trace my commute to school!!! This was all in the span of like 2 days though Lol Anyways I loved this book, and hope to get a physical copy soon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michaela

    Interesting concept but I was slightly disappointed. This book is basically just a collection of exercises to learn how to pay attention. However, a lot of the excercises are very art oriented and some are just plain odd. Talk to a rock? Smell flowers? Write inventory? Surely there are other ways how to learn to pay attention withou looking or feeling like a crazy person. I also thought book of this kind would work better as a workbook with sections to fill in rather than a plain collection of e Interesting concept but I was slightly disappointed. This book is basically just a collection of exercises to learn how to pay attention. However, a lot of the excercises are very art oriented and some are just plain odd. Talk to a rock? Smell flowers? Write inventory? Surely there are other ways how to learn to pay attention withou looking or feeling like a crazy person. I also thought book of this kind would work better as a workbook with sections to fill in rather than a plain collection of exercises.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Out of the Bex

    4.5/5 A fantastic book for creatives. Very often I find books promising to inspire the creative mind are more constraining than liberating. I’m pleased to report Rob’s book has surpassed the usual humdrum of fruitless prompts and instead produced something so practical and unique it will be a welcome addition to any artistically-minded reader’s shelf. Highly recommend! The book is divided into sections by each of the five senses. It is essentially a compilation of ideas and exercises from various c 4.5/5 A fantastic book for creatives. Very often I find books promising to inspire the creative mind are more constraining than liberating. I’m pleased to report Rob’s book has surpassed the usual humdrum of fruitless prompts and instead produced something so practical and unique it will be a welcome addition to any artistically-minded reader’s shelf. Highly recommend! The book is divided into sections by each of the five senses. It is essentially a compilation of ideas and exercises from various creatives around the globe from the massive to the mundane. The ideas never control your thought, instead they simply give you a method by which to experience your surroundings in a different way. Great book. Verdict: BUY IT

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Nicola

    I'm not an observant person and this was a neat read. I'm going to become more observant just maybe not in the normal way! I'm not an observant person and this was a neat read. I'm going to become more observant just maybe not in the normal way!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Straka

    I liked this book so much that I'm going to buy my own copy. I liked this book so much that I'm going to buy my own copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Allison Berkowitz

    I enjoyed this. It was one of my “listen before bed” books, and gave lots of interesting ideas about how to be more present in everyday life :-)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    this book was rly interesting and rly helped me live in the present moment

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Mangano

    I wish I could read this every morning before starting my day. Will completely change how you interact with your surroundings and go about your days - read read read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    The whole concept of this book is awesome. Getting you to notice do much out of your day makes it that much of a richer intentional experience. This book is loaded with simple things you can do each day to strengthen you awareness. Stay curious.

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