"The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human" by Jonathan Gottschall

More of a science book than a literary one but fascinating nonetheless. Author Jonathan Gottschall discusses how much storytelling is imbedded in the human psyche. He discusses a wide range of ancient myths, biblical stories, child’s play, film, television, up to and including role playing games to illustrate the human impulse to provide a narrative to our waking lives. There are also discussions of the roles dreams play and how the brain will force a narrative upon the often collage of images they produce in our sleeping lives. Storytelling is as old as humankind itself and its importance on how it makes us human cannot be understated. 

 

The main thrust of the study is to show how fiction and storytelling in general is a basic tool to help us navigate life’s complex social problems, drawing on a vast array of neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology to make his point. It is a book about how stories shape us and how vital it is to what makes us who we are. This is a must read for fiction writers, in my opinion, as it shows a wide range of storytelling styles and approaches to help us not only make sense of our own lives but to connect with and inspire other lives as well. All in all it is a very interesting and comprehensive study that offers some keen insights into the how and why we create fictions throughout the course of our individual lives. 

 

If you are a writer of fiction - no matter what genre - I highly recommend this book as another tool to add to your writer’s toolbox. An absolutely fascinating read. 

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