A woman walks around New York with strangers: looking for people with unhealthy gaits, turning over leaves to find parasitized flies, and critiquing unseemly awning lettering. Alexandra Horowitz takes walks with both experts--among them a geologist and a sound engineer--and with amateurs--among them her nineteen month-old son and a blind woman--to see her everyday world with new eyes.
In the narrative Horowitz states, "Sometimes we see least the things we see most." Through her walks the author brings attention to our inattention. In our world of social networking, we are often not present in the spaces we move through. Horowitz uses the expertise of her co-strollers to illustrate the wisdom of age-old maxims about being aware and living in the present moment. Some passages contain excellent scientific descriptions, such as why birds sing at dawn, and then Horowitz effortlessly turns to vivid prose that captures the imagery and simple beauty of the flight of pigeons.
In On Looking, Horowitz wrote a narrative that reads like Malcolm Gladwell infused with eastern philosophy. Although everyone could benefit from the lessons Horowitz presents, the book will best serve those readers perceptive enough to realize their current lack of perception.