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  • The Storytelling Animal

  • How Stories Make Us Human
  • Written by: Jonathan Gottschall
  • Narrated by: Kris Koscheski
  • Length: 5 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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The Storytelling Animal

Written by: Jonathan Gottschall
Narrated by: Kris Koscheski
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Publisher's Summary

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?

In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life's complex social problems - just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?

Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more "truthy" than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler's ambitions were partly fueled by a story. But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moral - they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.

©2012 Jonathan Gottschall (P)2012 Tantor

What the critics say

"Gottschall brings a light touch to knotty psychological matters, and he's a fine storyteller himself." ( Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about The Storytelling Animal

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I fuckin' loved it

Told like a story, I learned so much interesting facts and will revisit it soon!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Why we always have, and always will, love stories

I downloaded this book hoping to gain a glimpse into why us humans are programmed to love stories, from passed down oral stories to binge-worthy seasons of true crime shows. While I hoped the book went into more reasons why, or at least explained the listed reasons more deeply, I was pleased that it did convincingly and concisely answer my questions. In the end, stories may seem to be a luxury of our modern state, but prehistorically, they were vital for basic human survival. This explains why we love them so much.

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it was good

I quite liked this, worth the listen IMO. a bit of a slow start, but that's okay.

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