WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: On Looking by Alexandra Horowitz

“You missed that. Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you.” With this powerful introduction, you are immediately captivated by this book.

I came across this book by accident, as I enjoyed her other book “Inside of a dog”. Horowitz has the power to turn the ordinary things we take for granted, into the extraordinary and magical. She explains that her dog inspired this subsequent book, by causing her to consider how their daily walks around the block could be done better!

Each chapter of the book describes a walk around the block, but on each walk the author takes with her a different person (and a dog!). Each of these people have distinctive, individual, expert ways of seeing. Horowitz walks her block with her infant son, an urban sociologist, an artist, a geologist, a physician, and a sound designer. As she walks with each of them, the familiar becomes unfamiliar and curious, and we explore what her companions see, how they see it, and why most people do not notice the things that they do.

The book is a beautiful illustration of how different people see things in very different ways. It is a book about paying attention, and also about attempting to see things from others’ perspectives.

It is educational, but also enchanting! One of my favourite books of all time!

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