Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life Paperback – Bargain Price, March 30, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

See all 15 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Paperback, Bargain Price, March 30, 2010
$5.67 $2.40

This is a bargain book and quantities are limited. Bargain books are new but could include a small mark from the publisher and an Amazon.com price sticker identifying them as such. Details

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Winifred Gallagher on Rapt

A wise research psychiatrist once told me that he had identified life's greatest problem: How to balance self and others, or your need for independence with your need for relationship? Since writing Rapt, I've come to believe that we now face a fundamental psychological challenge of a different sort: How to balance your need to know—for the first time in history, fed by a bottomless spring of electronic information, from e-mail to Wikipedia--with your need to be? To think your thoughts, enjoy your companions, and do your work (to say nothing of staring into a fire or gazing dreamily at the sky) without interruption from beeps, vibrations, and flashing lights? Or perhaps worse, from the nagging sense that when you're off the grid, you're somehow missing out?

Science's new understanding of attention can help shape your answers to this question, which pops up all day long in various forms. When you sit at your computer, will you focus on writing that report or aimless web browsing? At the meeting, will you attend to the speaker or to your BlackBerry? Research suggests that your choices are more consequential than you may suspect. When you zero in on a sight or sound, thought or feeling, your brain spotlights and depicts that "target," which then becomes part of the subjective mental construct that you nonetheless confidently call "reality" or "the world." In contrast, things that you ignore don't, at least with anything like the same clarity. As William James succinctly puts it, "My experience is what I agree to attend to."

The realization that your life—indeed, yourself--largely consists of the physical objects and mental subjects that you've focused on, from e-bay bargains to world peace, becomes even more sobering when you consider that, as the expression "pay attention" suggests, like your money, your concentration is a finite resource. How can you get the highest experiential return for this cognitive capital? By focusing on some screen or on playing your guitar? On IM-ing your old friend or joining her for a walk?

Considering the Internet's countless temptations and distractions, deciding how best to invest your time and attention when you're online is particularly challenging. Left to its own devices, your involuntary, "bottom-up" attention system asks, "What's the most obvious, compelling thing to zero in on here? That e-mail prompt? This colorful ad?" Fortunately, evolution has also equipped you with a voluntary, "top-down" attention system that poses a different question: "What do you want to focus on right now? Ordering that new novel, then checking the weather report, then getting back to work, right?" Sometimes, it's fun to just wander around online, allowing your mind to be captured by random, bottom-up distractions. In general, however, it's far more productive to focus on top-down targets you've selected to create the kind of experience you want to invite.

Along with making clear choices about what things merit your precious attention online, there are some other simple ways to protect the quality of your daily life from technological interference. Remember that your electronics are your servants, not your masters, and don't let them choose your focus for you. Abandon vain attempts to "multitask," because when you try to attend to two things at once—phoning while checking e-mail—you're simply switching rapidly between them, which takes longer and generates more errors. When you need to concentrate on an important activity, try to work for 90 minutes without interruptions, because rebooting your brain can take up to 20 minutes.

Most important, as you go about the day, bear in mind that by taking charge of your attention, you improve your experience, increase your concentration, and lift your spirits. Best of all, enjoying the rapt state of being completely absorbed, whether by a website or a sunset, a project or a person, simply makes life worth living. We cannot always be happy, but we can almost always be focused, which is as close as we can get.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Gallagher (The Power of Place, Working on God) couples personal ruminations and interviews with experts to explore the role of attention in defining consciousness, identity and the human experience: "who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love-is the sum of what you focus on." From paying attention to your inner dialogue (helping eliminate negative thought patterns) to bucking the myths of multi-tasking (says cognitive scientist David Meyer, "Einstein didn't invent the theory of relativity while multi-tasking at the Swiss patent office"), Gallagher draws practical conclusions from her examination of conscious ("top-down") and unconscious ("bottom-up") attention strategies. Though her claims to "a psychological version of... physicist's 'grand universal theory'" are a bit outsized, Gallagher takes illuminating forays into the evolution of the species and the global diaspora, looking for instance at how "Western individualism" emphasizes top-down focus while the Asian mentality encourages a broader, contextual perspective. A fascinating psycho-social look at human motivation and the power of focus, Gallagher's latest is worth paying attention to.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116908
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,715,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

on May 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
33 comments| 128 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon May 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
22 comments| 158 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
11 comment| 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
11 comment| 79 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: cognition