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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.

What listeners say about On Looking

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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.

20 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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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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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Should have listened to the introduction

I rarely post reviews. this book had a lot of potential, and at times there were sparks of intrigue, but the narration was a bore. kudos to the author who stepped up to cover the audio version here, but it was painfully monotone. it did not engage me how I thought it would because the colorful prose posed actually as a barrier to the moments of research rather than just observation. the premise is an interesting concept I just think some lime could have been injected.

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Your daily walk will never be the same!

Loved this book so much. listened to it on a few of my daily walks and it was like being gifted with new eyes. always be curious of others perspectives!

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3.5

I enjoyed the premise. Many of the walks intrigued me and were quite interesting. The chapters did start to become repetitive just solely based on the fact that, yes, this person sees (or senses) things you wouldn't on your walk.

I went into the book thinking each walk was on the same route and the different things each "expert" noticed in comparison to what Horowitz noticed on her initial walk. NOPE DIFFERENT PLACES DIFFERENT WALKS DIFFERENT STATES. that REALLY threw me for a loop. How can you even compare these?

Also, it was very much... he said/she said. I was expecting more a narrative of literally what transpired on each walk. NOPE. Storytelling and attempts to relate whatever it is that's happening to something else in an educational way.

Aside from my two huge complaints, I did enjoy the book and still got something out of it. If you enjoy the author I would recommend, but not something I would go and tell someone pick up otherwise.

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Thought provoking and Poignant

Interesting perspectives, and good quality production. Good for dog owners who spend a lot of time walking.

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Eccellent Edu-tainment

Nonfiction that informs about many interrconnected topics but doesnt care if you necessarily retain any particular piece of info is my absolute favorite genre. If you loved "Disappearing Spoon" by Sam Kean or "At Home" by Bill Bryson or "The Perfectionists" by Simon Winchester you'll love this book too.

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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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  • Mrs
  • 05-26-14

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anna
  • 03-17-22

I wanted to love it

I really wanted to love this book. It's the kind thing I like, I love nerdy details like geology and typography and knowing stuff about the world around me. I'm also always keen to find ways to show down and appreciate life so this book sounded brilliant and got great reviews. However, sadly it's boring, the author's voice is droning and you hear all about these fascinating people but don't get to hear FROM them or learn much. The author is too keen on rambling on with her own navel gazing to let them. Couldn't finish I'm afraid.

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  • drp
  • 01-04-22

seeing anew

fascinating,this has opened all my senses to exciting new adventures & learning new skills

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  • katrina
  • 11-22-20

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.