Friday, October 26, 2012

Review of "The Storyteling Animal - How Stories Make Us Human" by Jonathan Gottschall

I am a huge believer in the power of story as the most impactful form of communication.  Jonathan Gottshall's book, subtitled "How Stories Make Us Human," is a wonderful addition to the body of work that examines the art of storytelling.  In a sense, the author is a pioneer, offering for the first time a unified theory of storytelling, explaining why human beings are hard-wired to tell and listen to stories in all of their forms - oral tradition, books, films, plays, myths, dreams, children's games, fairy tales and video games.  Gottschall presents a compelling case for the fact that stories help us, as human beings, navigate life's complexities in much the same way that pilots learn to anticipate airborne challenges through the use of flight simulators.

The book is a wonderful weaving together of art and science - neuroscience, evolutionary biology and psychology - to explain the strong hold that stories have over us.  Stories have the ability to change both our perception and our behavior.  It has been demonstrated experimentally that individuals who read fiction are more empathetic than those who do not.

If you have interest in stories and their telling, this is a book that needs to go to the top of your list.



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