Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Contributors: Jonathan Gottschall
In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate lifes complex social problemsjust as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviours, 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 behaviour? 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: Hitlers ambitions were partly fuelled by a story.
But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moralthey 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.