The Noticer tells a story, involving the author, of an old man, Jones (“just Jones, not Mr Jones”) visits residents of a village, imparting advice and improving the lives of those he meets on the basis that he is able to ‘notice’ better than most others.
The Noticer is a simple book. At 156 pages, it is not long. In many ways, it made me feel that it aspired to be written with the impact and success of The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho). If that is the goal, it comes short – it is not as elegantly written, and comes across contrived in comparison. But that is not to say that The Noticer doesn’t pack a punch, nor to say that it is not a good book. Different people will likely have quite different opinions about this book, depending on when they read it (actually, it fits very well in today’s economic uncertainty).
The book also leaves some uncertainties in the reader’s mind. For example, it was unclear to me how much it was intended to be fiction. Andrews also writes about Jones as if he might represent a second coming of Christ, without ever actually mentioning this (Jones ‘turns up’ in near impossible situations – at sea, behind locked doors, etc.). It’s almost as if Andrews was unsure how to complete that part of the story (or giving more credit to Andrews, wanted to leave the reader to decide), but it frustrated me that in the end it seemed to be a lose thread.
Nevertheless, through Jones’ meetings we hear how Jones’ advice relating to roughly six major themes related to having a better perception of one’s own situation, as well as the ability to pass on advice that has been internalized. Here Andrews really succeeds. Each topic is clearly addressed in an entertaining story-telling manner (rather than ‘self-help’ advice).
The book made me think about my own situation, and I will make changes, hopefully improving my life and those around me. For that, and the fact that the book entertained me for the short while that I read it, the book deserves 4 stars (out of 5).
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