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ON LOOKING by Alexandra Horowitz

ON LOOKING

Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes

By Alexandra Horowitz

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9125-5
Publisher: Scribner

Round and round the blocks of New York City, Horowitz (Psychology, Animal Behavior, and Canine Cognition/Barnard Coll.; Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know, 2010) takes readers on multiple walks, showing us what we fail to spot when we don't pay attention.

Her young son sees green triangles, trucks and his own shadow, among other things. Others see the stone formed into buildings, the marks of thousands of insects and a rat preening its face. Horowitz combines her minute observations with history and science, bringing new connections to the sometimes-mundane sights and sounds of a city. Her horizons were expanded during her walk with artist Maira Kalman, who viewed a church as more than just a place for religion; "it was about music and company and freedom of allegiances." Through the eyes of the artist, "objects and people on our route became possibilities for interaction, rather than decoration or obstruction, as the urban pedestrian might define them." From the multitude of typefaces found in street signs, to the differences in sounds made by a shuttle bus or a city bus, to the animals that share the city streets and sewers, each walk enabled Horowitz to perceive the same environment in a fresh, new way. Simply by paying attention, the author's senses were opened to experiences she would have otherwise completely missed. By reading her engaging stories, readers can learn to see their own environments, whether city or country, and open their minds to the exciting world that surrounds them. There is no right or wrong way to do this; one just must be open to the possibilities and be willing to try.

An enjoyable closer look at what most people miss when walking through a city.