‘Rapt’ Gains Attention from NYT

Are library buyers multitasking too much to keep track of Winifred Gallagher’s new book, Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life? It’s jumped to #26 on Amazon.com after a New York Times “Science” section story by John Tierney on “The Science of Concentration,” and by critic Laura Miller in Salon. Yet the libraries we checked showed low ordering (in some cases, no copies; in others, a single copy against 35 or more requests).

Gallagher argues that how we focus our attention is not only the key to mood, productivity and relationships, it’s the sum of our very being. A journalist and author of two other psychology books, she came to recognize the importance of attention while fighting cancer, when she discovered that consciously focusing on meaningful, productive or energizing subjects transformed her experience of the world. On a practical level, she recommends starting the workday with 90 minutes of undistracted attention on your most important task—bearing in mind that the brain can take 20 minutes to reset after an interruption.

Both reviewers clearly found Gallagher’s ideas engaging, although Miller found her writing “frustratingly scattered, self-contradicting and platitudinous” and questioned if we really need “more hand-wringing about families who don’t have dinner together or reheated summaries of scientific studies demonstrating the power of positive thinking?” Yet the Amazon rankings make clear that this subject strikes struck a chord. At this rate, we can expect to see it on bestseller lists next week.

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life
Winifred Gallagher
Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2009-04-16)
ISBN-10: 1594202109
ISBN-13: 9781594202100

Rapt is also available on audio from Brilliance:

  • 7 audio CDs: 978-1-4233-9321-4
  • 1 MP3-CD: 978-1-4233-9323-8

And a downloadable e-book is available from Overdrive:

  • Adobe EPUB eBook ISBN:  9781101032596

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