The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall

Photo: Jesus Ayala/Studio D

13 of 17
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
272 pages; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
"You are a creature of an imaginative realm called Neverland," Jonathan Gottschall explains in The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), arguing that, like Peter Pan, we never grow out of our need to make believe. All that changes is the format—whether it's cave paintings or novels or video games. While there's not a direct evolutionary payoff for telling tales, Gottschall, an adjunct professor of English at Washington & Jefferson College, contends that storytelling does have a purpose in human development. Giving good story can help us rehearse the big dilemmas of human life and "simulate worlds so we can live better in this one." Whatever the reason, we'll keep spinning yarns, simply because we are hardwired to do so.
— Abbe Wright