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Smith, K. (2008) How to be an Explorer of the World Penguin Books ISBN 978 0 241 95388 4

Any book that starts with T.S. Eliot’s quote:

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can’t be all bad, and Keri Smith’s How to be an Explorer of the World isn’t bad at all.

Smith works from the hypothesis that artists and scientists analyse the world around them in surprisingly similar ways ie. by observing, collecting, documenting, analysing, and comparing. In a creative and captivating guided journal she encourages readers to explore the world as both artists and scientists.

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‘Everything has a value, provided it appears at the right place at the right time. It’s a matter of recognising that value, that quality, and then to transform it into something that can be used. If you come across something valuable and tuck it away in your metaphorical suitcase there’s sure to come a moment when you can make use of it.’ Jurgen Bey

In a series of interactive prompts Smith proposes that we acknowledge and celebrate the incidental world around us by creating what she calls a portable life museum of observations, artefacts and experiences. She encourages us to become more present and aware, to document findings, to see patterns or simply focus on one thing at a time, noticing as we do so the ‘world in a grain of sand’.

Don’t be fooled by first impressions, whilst the book might at first glance be seen to be pitched at the teenager-lite end of the market, there’s serious intent here, and what Keri Smith achieves in this book is one of the most accessible articulations of a psychogeographic mindset I’ve come across, oh and don’t let that put you off either, for this book is an optimistic treat, a wonderfully practical, fun and engaging encouragement to open our eyes and minds to the mundane minutae of the world around us and see revealed the beauty in things might otherwise go unnoticed.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s ready to experience life with the fresh perspective of a child again and re-start exploring the things in the world we’ve long since forgotten.

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