On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, by Alexandra Horowitz

onlookingI love urban walks, so I was really intrigued by the concept of this book. Horowitz walks her dog regularly in her New York neighbourhood, and she became intrigued with the idea of what she was missing on these walks. So she lined up several experts in different fields — people who study plant life, animal life, typefaces on signs, all kinds of experts — as well as her dog, her toddler son, and a blind friend. She went for a walk with each of these people and asked them about what they saw that she didn’t see because she wasn’t looking for it (obviously, in the case of the toddler and the dog, she had to observe what drew their attention rather than interview them, but she still learned a lot).

I was disappointed to discover that she didn’t always do the exact same walk with each of the experts — sometimes she went to other neighbourhoods or other cities to walk and talk with them. I liked the idea of seeing the same walk over and over through different eyes, and that wasn’t exactly what the book delivered. But it was still an interesting and eye-opening look at all the things we don’t see in the city streets that many of us walk through every day (although in the case of all the new information I now have about rats, I might be better off not knowing).


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April 20, 2014 · 1:33 am

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