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Summary

In Rapt, acclaimed behavioral science writer Winifred Gallagher makes the argument that the quality of your life largely depends on what you choose to pay attention to and how you choose to do it.

Gallagher grapples with provocative questions - Can we train our focus? What's different about the way creative people pay attention? Why do we often zero in on the wrong factors when making big decisions? - driving us to reconsider what we think we know about attention.

As suggested by the expression "pay attention," this cognitive currency is a finite resource that we must learn to spend wisely. In Rapt, Gallagher introduces us to a diverse cast of characters - artists and ranchers, birders and scientists - who have learned to do just that and whose stories are profound lessons in the art of living the interested life.

No matter what your quotient of wealth, looks, brains, or fame, increasing your satisfaction means focusing more on what really interests you and less on what doesn't. In asserting its groundbreaking thesis - the wise investment of your attention is the single most important thing you can do to improve your well-being - Rapt yields fresh insights into the nature of reality and what it means to be fully alive.

©2009 Winifred Gallagher (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

annoying narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No- having really enjoyed (and used) Cal Newport's 'Deep Work' book I thought this would be helpful but I think it spends too much time setting up the importance of attention (Yeah I get it- I bought the book!) rather than the meat of the issue (focus, flow and how to filter.) The extended birdwatching example to illustrate ground up and top down focus was grindingly boring.A couple of clangers in the 'relationship' section (need to engage critically with the 'men are from mars; women are from venus' stereotypical analysis of attention in relationships) and the work related chapter was, again, much lighter than Cal Newport's work- disappointing all round.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

less time on the setup; more time on the tactics; and better critical engagement with the research (Rather than simply breathlessly listing studies and findings...)

Would you be willing to try another one of Laural Merlington’s performances?

No- I found the narration weirdly inflected and very patronising - particularly the attempt to sound 'humorous' at the numerous sections where the author is talking about something that might challenge our perceptions.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

No.

Any additional comments?

None

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It's ok

I got this because references to it in Deep Work made it sound really interesting. Unfortunately, those references all seem to have been based on the introduction of this book - they weren't representative of the whole thing. I was hoping for something more personal/narrative-based/jounalistic, but this was more technical/academic. Not the author's fault! For what it was, it was ok, but I probably wouldn't have bothered if I'd known. The intro is great though!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Important but let down by narration

Given the competition for our attention from different sources this book is important and timely.

Unfortunately I found it difficult to focus on, mainly because of the narration which I found to be muffled and sometimes flat, lacking inflection. Moreover, it seemed as if the full stops had been removed from the text as many sentences started immediately that the predecessor had finished with no pause for breath. Whether the narrator reads that way or the pauses were edited out I have no idea but it made the book more difficult to listen to.

I will probably listen to it again to get more out of it but I was more than a bit disappointed by it.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • 02-06-09

The Neuroscience of Concentration

Winifred Gallagher has turned mindfulness on its head in "Rapt." In this book she pays particular attention to the factors fostering and benefits of paying attention, concentration, and mental focus. The chapters on relationships, productivity, decisions, and creativity were of great practical benefit. She tells you the why and the how at every stage. This volume is well worth the time and money invested.

A related book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, makes a wonderful companion listen and is also available from Audible.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tedd
  • 25-05-09

held my attention...mostly

The work presents an impressive amount of research, related (often indirectly) to the phenomenon of human attention, albeit in slightly biased fashion. To this reader, the author often turned what should have been an objective presentation of the data into an indictment of Western culture. Intentional or not, those highly sensitive to such things be warned. When you get past this, however, the book does manage to impart many useful insights and is, on the whole, worth a listen.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michele
  • 04-06-09

Worth Buying

While much of the information in this book is well known, the author presents it in a new and interesting way. She also employs up-to-date research to support her claims.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Maggie
  • 13-07-09

a book divided against itself?

whereas Rapt starts slow it has a stronger second half. the first part reviews what we mostly already know. okay. fine. we need to recall common knowledge which is usually "dull" since we already know it. the second half of the book, however, finally provides the information and research for which the reader has come searching: 1) our attention and our choice of focus matter more than we realize in our technological world, 2) multi-tasking may be a myth, and 3) brain function studies are so worth knowing about. imo, then, the second half of the book makes the entire book worth an attentive listen. inquiring minds want to know. and some things are worth the extra time.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darryl
  • 30-06-09

Attention? more like...perseverance

This book is a real challenge to stick with at the beginning. The author seems to try too hard with a lot of flowery overly descriptive language. Didn't impress me - it irritated me! But I hung in there and 'focused' on the messages and suprisingly it turned into an interesting read.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Benjamin L. Willmore
  • 07-04-15

Enjoyable listen and good summary of much research

Many familiar studies along with more that I was not aware of summarized without getting too bogged down in the details. More a focus on what to learn from each study and how to organize all the ideas around common themes. I'll need to listen to it a few more times before I'll be able to pull out and use the ideas that are most aligned with my lifestyle. I look forward to listening to it more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Matt
  • 20-09-12

Good Content Spoiled By Rapid Reading Speed

Essentially this is a very good book, but it's one you really have to work at to absorb. It's not an easy listen by any means. That's because content has a fairly dense, text book-like tone to it.

If you get it you'll need to sit and listen to it without any distractions. Don't try driving, walking or doing household chores with this one on, or you'll miss out on what she has to say.

It's a psychology book of sorts - written with the aim of helping us develop better minds and it really is deep and insightful.

Writing easily digestible prose is clearly not the author's strong point though. She relies on a logical, left-brain, technical type of language throughout. Her words are a bit too big and grown-up for my taste; lots of syllables, and she's not the best at telling engaging stories.

Nevertheless, as someone seriously interested self improvement I found it well worth my attention. I just wish they'd chosen a different narrator - or at least made a more subtly nuanced recording. It's not that the reader is terrible. It's just that she doesn't manage to bring the words alive. She reads way too fast and she's too far from the microphone to sound intimate and engaging. As such, the words go in one ear and out the other.

This kind of content calls for far more variation in pitch, pace pausing and more expression to hold attention well. Ironic, as the book is all about attention.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-11-16

Packed with Information!

Couldn't stop Listening, Rewinding, then getting lost in the thoughts that the book triggers. The author describes how attention affects many areas of our lives such as motivation, creativity and happiness. Very good book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer
  • 20-06-14

Monkey Mind Account of Mindfulness

Who we are and how are is largely shaped by where we focus, where we invest our attention. Although our minds are naturally (and often strongly) drawn to the dangerous and the novel, we have the ability to influence our focus. With or without intentional choice, attending to one aspect of our physical and mental environment causes us to ignore others.

Rather than making a coherent case for where we should place our attention under what circumstances and providing techniques for controlling that attention, the author provides a journalist’s survey of the scientific work being done in the area. A sprinkling of nineteenth century philosophy provides some context, but we are left with little more than the general idea that attending to the right things will make us happier.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Breian
  • 20-12-11

5 times

It was so good that I listened to it 5 times. I'll continue to listen to it just to make sure that I don't miss anything. Powerful Stuff... It is like an extra-boost to increase your performance in life/time management by 10 folds. This book is a must for high performers/achievers or to those who wants to decrease/manage stress by working effectively and efficiency.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful