The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr 10, 2012 - Science - 272 pages
A NYTimes.com Editor's Choice A Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Finalist “A jaunty, insightful new book . . . [that] draws from disparate corners of history and science to celebrate our compulsion to storify everything around us.”
New York Times

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. Now Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal and explains how stories can change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.

“This is a quite wonderful book. It grips the reader with both stories and stories about the telling of stories, then pulls it all together to explain why storytelling is a fundamental human instinct.”
—Edward O. Wilson

“Charms with anecdotes and examples . . . we have not left nor should we ever leave Neverland.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

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User Review  - Cheryl.Russell - www.librarything.com

I'm having trouble deciding what this book is actually about. It covers a lot of ground, and I think that is one of the problems I'm having with it. Even though the book is listed at 248 pages, only ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DLMorrese - LibraryThing

How stories are told has changed over time, from a group of hunter-gatherers listening to a storyteller around a fire to online role-playing games, but they're all stories. At the core, they're all ... Read full review

Contents

1 The Witchery of Story
1
2 The Riddle of Fiction
21
3 Hell Is StoryFriendly
45
4 Night Story
68
5 The Mind Is a Storyteller
87
6 The Moral of the Story
117
7 Ink People Change the World
139
8 Life Stories
156
9 The Future of Story
177
Back Matter
201
Back Flap
249
Back Cover
250
Spine
251
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About the author (2012)

JONATHAN GOTTSCHALL teaches English at Washington and Jefferson College and is the author or editor of six books. His work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, Nature, and Scientific American, among others.

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