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The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Humanby Jonathan Gottschall
Synopses & Reviews
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. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?
In this delightful and original book, 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. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?
Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more "truthy" than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler's ambitions were partly fueled by a story. But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moral—they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.
Jonathan Gottschall explores why we tell stories and what stories reveal about human nature, in this original and insightful book.
About the Author
Jonathan Gottschall is the author of The Rape of Troy: Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer and Literature, Science, and a New Humanities, as well as coeditor of several books, including Graphing Jane Austen and The Literary Animal. His work has been featured widely in the media, including the New York Times magazine, the New York Times, Scientific American Mind, New Scientist, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, Science, BBC Radio and NPR. Jonathan teaches in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Washington, Pennsylvania. Kris Koscheski, narrator, director, and audio aficionado, has worked on over four hundred audiobooks over the last twelve years. He has produced and directed many titles that have earned AudioFile Earphones Awards, Audie Awards, and Grammy nominations. Kris is a professional narrator and musician, and he was educated in the art of sound engineering. As an independent voice artist, Kris narrates for commercials, books, and cutting-edge Web media productions.
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