Monday, May 09, 2011

Muse Review: How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

I stumbled upon this book browsing in the creativity section of the library a few days ago, and several things drew me to it. 
  • The handwritten font feel of the book.
  • The chaotic organization of the book using photo and illustration as well as different sizes and weights of the typeface
  • The subject:  This book covers extensively one of the essential skills of being a creative writer: Observation, and provides many different ways to help improve this skill.
Smith's book presents experiencing life as a scientist might see it. Using scientific "observations" to look at and document the world, this book presents several methods to help you see things better with different perspectives.  It also invites you to "collect" objects (both physical and existential) during your explorations such as objects of a certain color, words, smells, overheard conversations, cracks, and absurd things are just a few examples of what to collect on page 23 in the book.

Here are a few other cool exercises I liked in the book:
  • Ways to transform an everyday experience: Add music to set the tone (and soundtrack of) your day; Pretend you are someone else. "What would __________ do?"; Alter a habitual routine; and many more on p 141 alone.
  •  "Document part of a building that most people ignore (examples include the ceilings, bathrooms, corners, closets, and the insides of drawers)." p 65
  • I really love this one. Great for an artist or a writer: Collect paint color samples from paint or home improvement stores, and then match the colors to items in the "real world," and write them down on the paint sample. pp 42-43
I will post a few more writing topic inspired by this book in this week's Topic Tuesday, so don't miss it.

The only thing that I didn't like about the book was the empty pages and blank forms that comprised 1/4 of the book.  I know that this is a common practice for this type of book, but I hate it. If you want to give someone forms or blanks to fill out in a book, give them one of each and permission to photocopy them.

So the book gets a slight ding for that flaw, but other than that, it is a creative and inspiring work that forces you to look at things in the world carefully. The things that our brain tends to filter out during the rush of daily life.

Rating **** (4 out of 5 stars) Buy on Sale/Discounted

About Ratings: ***** -- Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** — Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** — Buy Used; ** — Borrow It from the Library; * — Waste of a Good Tree

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