Aimee's Reviews > The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
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May 07, 12

Read from May 05 to 07, 2012

I am an avid reader and love to get swept up in a story so I was excited to read this book about storytelling by Jonathan Gottschall. I was not disappointed, it is a great book about how are lives are shaped by stories. I was expecting a book that discussed different stories found in books but Gottschall made me see that there are stories all around us, not just the ones found in books. He talks about a wide variety of stories found in our culture today including books, movies, tv shows (even reality tv), video games, and the stories we ourselves tell about our own lives.

There are some interesting research that has been done on the subject that Gottschall discusses, I particularly liked the part with research on young children and the stories they make up while they are playing. It was fascinating to see the difference between the play of boys and girls and the examples shown of what the children said while playing was fascinating.

My favorite chapter was titled Ink People Change the World and it talked about how stories can have such a strong effect on people and can change history. Two examples that were given were of Hitler's going to see a performance of Rienzi by Wagner and how he said the performance revealed his destiny. The other example was the book Uncle Tom's Cabin and the effect the book had on American culture during the time of the Civil War. Here is a quote from the book that really makes an important point.

"If the research is correct, fiction is one of the primary sculpting forces of individuals and societies. Anecdotes about those rare ink people, such as Rienzi or Uncle Tom, who vault across the fantasy-reality divide to change history are impressive. But what is more impressive, if harder to see, is the way stories are working on us all the time, reshaping us in the way that flowing water gradually reshapes a rock."

I think Gottschall makes an important point about the power of stories in our lives.

The book gives lots of information along side examples and research that help Gottschall make his points. It is a great read about the power of stories and why we humans feel compelled to read them or watch them. I would highly recommend this one, especially to those passionate about reading.
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