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

The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
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's review
Apr 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: first-look, folklore-folklife-etc
Read from April 16 to 26, 2012

This proved to be quite a delightful read. The subject material and arguments covered are certainly fascinating, and Gottschall, through his quotes and supporting evidence, is clearly well-read both in this subject and in a more general sense. I did not expect the heavy dependence upon psychology, but it was well-explained and actually provided a great supplement to the psychology course I am currently taking. The evolutionary biology approach to explaining the purpose(s) of storytelling was also particularly fascinating.

The one thing about which I could complain, which is actually more of a personal problem than one of the author's, is that there is not a concrete set of knowledge I took away from reading this book. Gottschall explores a variety of ideas about the reasons behind storytelling that stem from a variety of academic disciplines, so the book comes off as more of an eclectic, chapter-by-chapter compilation than a concrete setting-forth of a single man's unified ideas. It's quite fascinating, and Gottschall adds an appropriate amount of humor to keep things moving, but the reader comes away with more general knowledge and less specifics that can be concretely explained. Not by any means unpleasant, but not what I had expected. Also, I had mixed opinions about the images included with the text. Many did add to the material being covered, but I felt that some came off as unprofessional in the general outlay of text and pictures. However, maybe this will be remedied in the final copy of the book.

Overall, The Storytelling Animal is a fun but also very informative read. It is perfectly written for a general audience, containing little academic jargon but still perfectly conveying its messages. Even for people not usually interested in the fields covered, the mix of occasional humor, references to well-known things from history and the media, and Gottschall's clear writing make for an interesting read.

Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book through First Look.
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04/23/2012 page 150

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