Ben Oliver


The Art of Noticing

131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday
20 December 2023

This book really does what its subtitle suggests; it’s a collection of ideas to help the reader notice their world more and ‘be in the moment’. The irony of formalising spontaneity into a list seems to be lost on the author.

It’s easy to be mean, I find, about a book that suggests picking a stranger and following them but it’s not all completely insane and in fact over the last few days of reading this book I’ve found myself trying to observe things in ways that the author suggests. Finding the weird little signs people put up all over town. Taking different routes to where I’m going. You know, shit we all do sometimes.

Perhaps I’m not quite the victim of the information addicted smartphone era that I thought I was, since a lot of this advice is just stuff I tend to do anyway to keep myself occupied before my inevitable death.

It’s a pretty little tome, at least my copy is, and some of its best advice comes when it aims squarely at artists and gives case studies. But then if that’s what you’re after you’ve got John Berger to turn to.

The Art of Noticing advocates setting time aside for oneself, not overly formalising everything and trying to break out of the hamster wheel of life. These are ideas to live by but I’d be shocked if you hadn’t already had these thoughts.

A fun book to dip in and out of when in a rut, but taken as a whole it’s not better than the sum of its parts. There’s a lack of focus and conflicting ideas which pretty much just screams “you do you”.

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