Download The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human Audiobook

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human Audiobook, by Jonathan Gottschall Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jonathan Gottschall Narrator: Kris Koscheski Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9781452679921
3.00179856115108 out of 53.00179856115108 out of 53.00179856115108 out of 53.00179856115108 out of 53.00179856115108 out of 5 3.00 (556 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Gottschall brings a light touch to knotty psychological matters, and he's a fine storyteller himself. Kirkus

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 2/17/2014

    " Interesting ideas, but not really riveting reading, and the chapter on how we invent religions to feed our dependence on story left a little to be desired. :-) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill | 2/11/2014

    " This was an interesting overview but I agree with other reviewers that it didn't seem to offer much new. In addition, there were times when the analysis seemed superficial. For example, on page 96, he talks about "...split-brain patients were a boon to neuroscience. Thanks largely to these patients, scientists were able to isolate and study the workings of the two hemispheres of the brain. They discovered that the left brain is specialized..." He suggests that 1962 was a breakthrough year in the study of brain function localization. In actuality, doctors and neuroscientists were studying localization as early as the late 1800s by looking of victims of both strokes and traumatic head injury. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marge | 2/9/2014

    " I wanted this pleasing, easy read to delve deeper, but I did enjoy reading it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 1/20/2014

    " Anyone who writes should read this book, a thoroughly engaging introduction to the way our minds process and organize information into narrative. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gindho | 1/5/2014

    " Litterature went scientific, esp. Darwinian. Stresses the centrality of fiction and narrative in homo sapiens' lives. Easy reading, premium content. Ultimately revolutionary. I cannot ask for more. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heidi | 12/11/2013

    " I've read a lot of this elsewhere. The first couple chapters had some interesting nuggets, but I didn't find the book all that engaging. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 11/19/2013

    " A good introductory examination of the role of stories in our lives, but it isn't very scientific or substantial. The end notes and credits make up more than 40 percent of the book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristi | 10/9/2013

    " I was intrigued by the subject, but just couldn't get all the way through it. Possibly a reflection on me rather than the book itself. I might revisit it another time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie | 8/29/2013

    " Meh. Really interesting concept, but there wasn't much meat on the bone. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Knows | 5/12/2013

    " I wish that I had a book like this in my English classes growing up. A book that made me examine myself as a reader/storytelling animal(something that was long overdue), so that I could better examine what I read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Madeline | 12/29/2012

    " This book is an amazing analysis of fiction and why we, as humans, both need and enjoy it. It is extremely well written and covers the topic very thoroughly across both time and methods - everything from ancient campfire tales to modern-day live action role playing is covered. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 12/17/2012

    " This book validates a lot of my feelings about the importance of narrative in our lives. We tell stories because that is what it means to be human. "

About the Author

Jonathan Gottschall is a distinguished research fellow in the English department at Washington & Jefferson College. His research has been covered in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times, Scientific American, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and on NPR. His book The Storytelling Animal was a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

About the Narrator

Allyson Ryan is an Earphones Award–winning voice actress who can be heard in commercials, promos, animation, and audiobooks. She has extensive experience on stage and television. In New York, she acted in and directed more than thirty plays. Her television credits include roles on Eleventh Hour, Law & Order, and One Life to Live. She has also appeared as “Mom” in several television commercials. Advertising Age nominated her for a Bobby Award in the best actress category for her work as the Duracell mom.