20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I cannot get enthusiastic,
This review is from: On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes (Hardcover)
A blurb on the back of my book quotes Susan Orlean as saying: "Horowitz writes like a poet, thinks like a scientist .....". I would agree, but cannot get enthusiastic about this book. The poetry is not pervasive enough to consistently enliven what is often dull. The science rarely answer questions a walker already has. It can be stimulating, but if the science were extracted, it would add up to one author's survey of popular science - in that format the reader could more easily skip sections based on interest or previous exposure, and perhaps the articles would go into more depth.
Horowitz is very likable, and I did learn some interesting things. Chapters I particularly enjoyed were walking with a toddler, walking with a geologist (although this chapter really suffered from a lack of pictures), and walking with a blind person. Perhaps all parents with young children should read the toddler chapter. The chapter on urban animals covered a subject I am deeply interested in but it was disappointing - perhaps the walk should have been done at night, when we learn encounters would have been more likely, and perhaps there is just not enough known (Horowitz is told by her expert that there is surprisingly little known about wild rats, for example). One question which was answered: pigeons bob their heads to gain depth perception, compensating for a physiological lack; but how do they find enough to eat, when they spend so much time pecking at sidewalks which have no apparent food spillage?
The material on walking in crowds is better read in the original (a chapter or two in William H. Whyte's "City: Rediscovering the Center"). I have to disagree with Alexandra's conclusion that walkers with mobile phones are a particular problem: it is counter intuitive, but they seem to look up frequently enough, and make enough early adjustments, so that even mild collisions seem very rare.