Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places (Google eBook)

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, May 26, 2009 - Social Science - 208 pages
33 Reviews

Outside Lies Magic is a book about the acute observation of ordinary things, about becoming aware in everyday places, about seeing in utterly new ways, about enriching your life unexpectedly.
For more than 20 years, John R. Stilgoe has developed and practiced the art of exploring the everyday world around us, where so much lies hidden just beneath the surface, offering uncommon knowledge if we but know what to look for. In this remarkable book, Stilgoe inspires us to become explorers on our own-on foot or on bicycle-and by so doing to reap the benefits of escaping, even temporarily, the traps of our programmed lives.

"Exploration encourages creativity, serendipity, invention," he writes. And while sharing his insights on how to explore, Stilgoe provides a fascinating pocket history of the American landscape, as striking in its originality as it is revealing. Stilgoe dissects our visual surroundings; his observations will transform the way you see everything. Through his eyes, an abandoned railroad line is redolent of history and future promise; front lawns recall our agrarian past; vacant lots hold cathedrals of potential.

From the electrical grid overhead to fences, malls, and main streets, Stilgoe offers a fresh understanding of the links and fractures in our society. After reading Outside Lies Magic, your world will never look the same again.

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Review: Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places

User Review  - Sara - Goodreads

I think this book would do much better if it was just the first and last chapters and skipped the chapters in between. i appreciated the call to explore and observe - there is certainly much to see ... Read full review

Review: Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places

User Review  - Karen - Goodreads

Interesting concept about exploring the urban, suburban and rural areas for clues/observations about built environments -- history of mailboxes, backyards, strip malls. A little tiring by the end though with all the third person references to "The Explorer." Read full review


Acknowledgments ix
Main Street

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About the author (2009)

John R. Stilgoe is Orchard Professor of Landscape History at Harvard University. He is the author of Alongshore; Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene; Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb; and Common Landscape of America, 1540 to 1845. He lives in Norwell, Massachusetts.

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