Synopses & Reviews
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 lifes 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
"There's an easy charm to de Botton's writing, pleasure to be had in its intellectual-order and civilised tidiness. This is a beautifully crafted book of bon mots, an elegant and unapologetically popularising blend of European intellectualism and British pragmatism....It is a book that invites you to enjoy its gentle formalism, its sweet flow and the writerly-ness of its reflections." Melanie McGrath, The Evening Standard
"There is something Proustian in The Art of Travel, in the best sense, for Mr. de Botton is a kind of flaneur, strolling through his subject thoughtfully and offering nuanced truths based on his reading, experience and philosophical temperament." The Wall Street Journal
"[R]efreshing and profoundly readable....Thanks to de Botton's detailed and thoughtful writing, coupled with his clever curiosity, The Art of Travel has the potential to enrich not only our journeys, but also our lives." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"[De Botton] relates even the most disappointing experiences with delightful wit, graceful prose and surprising insight..." The Los Angeles Times
"Wickedly funny...De Botton travels like the rest of us, but he brings with him the amazing erudition, crisp, lovely prose, and entertaining intellect that made How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Consolations of Philosophy such phenomenal successes." The Boston Globe
"[E]xudes erudition and artfulness....Delightful." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Charmingly and capably convinces us how unaware most of us are as we move about in the world...will leave the reader mentally reaching for a pencil to check off the graceful, witty turns of Mr. de Botton's mind." The Washington Times
"A thoughtful and anecdote-rich meditation on how trips can alter us in unexpected ways." Elle Magazine
The author of How Proust Can Change Your Life explores what the point of travel might be and modestly suggets how we can learn to be a little happier in our travels.
From the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life comes a dazzling inquiry into our desire to travel and into the ways in which this experience is altered by both anticipation and memory. Illustrations.
Aside from love, few actvities seem to promise us as much happiness as going traveling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs, and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel, few people seem to talk about why we should go and how we can become more fulfilled by doing so. In The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, explores what the point of travel might be and modestly suggets how we can learn to be a little happier in our travels.
Any Baedeker will tell us where
we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how
With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life,
de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.
Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book. Dont leave home without it.
A provocative young scholar gives us the first book on the new science of storytelling: the latest thinking on why we tell stories, what stories reveal about human nature, what makes a story transporting, which plots and themes are universal, and what it means to have a storytelling brain—what are the implications for how we process information and think about the world?
About the Author
Alain de Botton is the author of On Love, The Romantic Movement, Kiss and Tell, How Proust Can Change Your Life, and The Consolations of Philosophy. He lives in London.
Table of Contents
The Witchery of Story 1
The Riddle of Fiction 21
Hell Is Story-Friendly 45
Night Story 68
The Mind Is a Storyteller 87
The Moral of the Story 117
Ink People Change the World 139
Life Stories 156
The Future of Story 177
Read an exclusive essay by Alain de Botton