The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013, 10:15 am

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The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Jonathan Gottschall

2012

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Jeff R

Adults

Nonfiction

psychology and sociology

In brief

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Are stories an evolutionary adaptation, or are they an evolutionary side effect? Do they mirror reality or shape it? Read on and find out.

As human beings we find ourselves surrounded by stories: the stories we read and watch, the stories we tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves. Our earliest forms of play involve stories. Our daydreams are stories. Even in sleep, our stories continue unabated through the unconscious flow of dreams.

Clearly, stories get to the very heart of what it means to be human. Their ubiquity demonstrates the critical role they play in how we make sense of the world. But how did this come to be, and why?

In The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall sets out to understand the place of stories in our lives. Drawing from research in sociology, psychology, media and neuroscience, he examines our very human penchant for story-making. He explores the evolution of stories, their similarities across cultures (they are legion) and the possible future of storytelling. This is an engaging and thoughtful book; through Gottschall's skillful narrative we learn as much about stories as we do ourselves.