Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

On Looking

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes
by Alexandra Horowitz

You probably don’t need any help going for a walk around the block. Yet how much did you really see and understand of what was going on. Did you catch all the sounds, recognise all the social cues, smell what was desirable or telling and recognise the living history of the landscape? Probably not. Walking is often just what we do to get from A to B, or perhaps it’s just exercise, or just about not thinking and not concentrating after a long day.

In ‘On Looking’ Horowitz conducts around a dozen ‘walks around the block’ with everyone from her young child and pet dog, to experts on typology, geology, sound, urban animals, and the like. Each chapter details a different walk and shows just how much of the world out there our attention simply skips over if not never even noticing.

Horowitz has a beautiful writing style, so you’ll fly through this book. But more than just enjoying what she says, this is a book you can take with you. Each time I’ve walked to work or the shops after reading this, I feel i catch more of what is going on. I recognise the beauty and mechanics of the world around me a little more.

Why leave it to Sherlock Holmes to spot the significance of a misplaced cigarette butt. With this book, you’ll begin to see, hear, smell and interpret the world in a richer and more interesting way. Highly recommended.

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