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

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  978 ratings  ·  186 reviews
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
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  978 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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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.
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.
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Adam Fearnall
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
Elizabeth A
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
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. ...more
S.J. Higbee
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Roni Loren
Enjoyed this one.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: livre-audio
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. ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
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!
Val Robson
Apr 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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 ...more
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.
Tim Belonax
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
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.
Wendy Jones
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
Mell Aguiar
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
Out of the Bex
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Cynthia Nicola
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
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! ...more
Carrie Straka
I liked this book so much that I'm going to buy my own copy. ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Not really a "sit down and read cover to cover" book - lots of good ideas about being more "in the moment", grouped by subject, sort of - ("looking", "listening", etc.) - contains some worthwhile ideas and a few genuinely profound ones, but overall just OK. ...more
Ruth Saville
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Such a simple concept with simple ideas, beautifully laid out, illustrated and succinctly written. I will definitely be reading it again and making more notes. It has certainly positively changed the way I look at things in an everyday light. I enjoyed the simple, abstract illustrations and feel they added to the book overall.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caring *is* at the heart of it all.

So happy I decided to read this one. It is well worthy of a revisit from time to time.
Nathan Albright
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2019
Admittedly, as a creative person I am someone who is more than usually interested in the quotidian details of ordinary and mundane everyday existence.  As a blogger, I am tempted at times to review the manhole covers I drive over, some of which are more than a little jarring, and I have to admit that this book contains both some challenges I have already profitably taken on my own (like the challenge of standing in front of a piece of artwork for ten minutes or more to build a deep understanding ...more
Elaine Aldred
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We often seek out new experiences and will travel great distances, striving to make great efforts to find that spark for our creativity. Yet the exercises in The Art of Noticing will make it possible for you to discover that the most mundane environment can be your creative muse.

Because of this, as well as the lively and interesting way in which it’s written, The Art of Noticing is a book that should be on the compulsory list for any creative course be it writing, art, film making and so on. The
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favourite book of the year. I loved that I learned new things as well as better understood my own love of the unseen in plain sight. My photography is mostly of unseen or ignored details.
It's changed the way I see things, challenged me, excited me surprised me and brought joy! I love this book I can't recommend it enough it's worth every moment of your time.
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Rob Walker is a journalist covering design, technology, business, the arts, and other subjects. He writes the Human Resource column for Lifehacker, and has contributed to The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Atlantic, TheNewYorker.Com, Design Observer, The Organist, and many others. His book The Art of Noticing (Knopf) comes out in May 2019. He is on the faculty of the Products of Desig ...more

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