Audra (Unabridged Chick)'s Reviews > The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
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's review
May 17, 12

bookshelves: books-on-books, favorites, human-evolution
Read from May 13 to 17, 2012

I loved Gottschall from the first line of this book; I quickly saw he was a book fan geeking out about how awesome fiction is and I cheerfully followed along.

I'm always going to fangirl over books on books -- I can't help it. I love readers and I love reading about reading. Gottschall takes joy in not just reading, but all forms of storytelling, from country music songs to commercials and films. He examines how fiction -- storytelling -- helps us individually and globally.

Trivia fans will love this book because it is chock full of tidbits to toss out at your next party or family gathering (for example, a 2009 study showed more people were scarred by scary films than real world horrors like 9/11 or the Rwandan genocide.) Gottschall's writing style is casual, funny, friendly, and approachable and he references contemporary and classic fictions. He breaks down scientific studies on neurons, behavior, emotions and offers a trenchant and funny argument in support of fiction in all its forms.

In addition to being a great read for anyone who likes fiction and doesn't mind a dip into popular non-fiction, I think this would make a unique book club pick. Breezy readable, this book celebrates what we all love about storytelling, and provides great themes and ideas to chew and discuss. Gift this book for the bookish college grad in your life or the light reader who needs a nudge to pick up a novel because page 66 offers a very good reason why: "In one study, they [researchers] found that heavy fiction readers had better social skills -- as measured by tests of social and empathetic ability -- than those who mainly read nonfiction." Novel readers rejoice: we're awesome.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell ....ooh.

Audra (Unabridged Chick) I know, right?! The title grabbed me; I'm not even sure I actually know the guy's basic premise. I'm reviewing it in May!

message 3: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Audra (Unabridged Chick) wrote: "I know, right?! The title grabbed me; I'm not even sure I actually know the guy's basic premise. I'm reviewing it in May!"

I was just reading in the Vonnegut bio about how apparently one of his discarded master's theses was about the binding power of storytelling - argggh if I had the hard copy on my desk I could flip to it, but not sure where it is in the Kindle ed. Ah, the future. - But I find the idea that stories serve an evolutionary purpose, and a moral humanizing one too, very interesting. Vonnegut's kid gets into this too in his memoir - "Art is not extras." It's quite a good passage.

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