A response to The Storytelling Animal
Jonathan Gottschall, the author of "The Storytelling Animal," started the book by illustrating how much stories are capable of sucking us up in the story and separate us from the world we are living, including the chair we are sitting on while reading and put us in the wonderland created by the storyteller. Then he expands it to how we add to the different kinds of stories by our imagination and how loose some of the explanations in the stories are. Next, Jonathan explains the other nontraditional stories that we here now and then such as TV series, songs, games, TV commercials, and the dreams that we tend not to recognize them as stories. Then, he elaborates on the huge amount of time we spend everyday hearing or listening to different narratives and how reporters, comedians, poets, historians or even archaeologists use accounts to lead their audience attention to their points. By saying these, the author tries to convince the reader of his book about the importance of story in human's life. Then as the evidence, he brings examples of different books that profoundly affect peoples’ cultures and mention a true story of Adolf Hitler and express his opinion on how hearing a song can have a significant effect on millions' of lives, worldwide.
I think this book is successful in term of showing how stories and humans have a secure and inseparable connection that starts from the beginning of life when mothers tell bedtime stories to the very last years that grandparents tell remarkable stories of their past. Many times in these chapters he convinced me about how important stories are and changed my perspective on the importance of different kinds of narratives in our lives. Especially the story of Hitler was a good one. How he starts it without mentioning Adolf's name and bringing up his name, later on, was a shock to me and make me think about how a stories being told can influence us. Having said that, I believe in some parts of the book including the story of Hitler, other factors, and their influences were underestimated. Assuming that the song was the most critical factor in changing Adolf's attitude into a racist ideology that led the world into a horrible war will probably not %100 accurate. Although in a small part of the book he mentioned that he is not trying to overlook but the overall theme of the book can give the reader this feeling. However, by saying that, I do not want to say that stories are not effective. Many times in my life I have been influenced by stories and songs. An excellent example of that was about ten years ago when I heard one of Iranian songs by Namjoo which was saying that we should let go of the things we do not want to and try things that we think by doing them we get a better feeling. He mentions the word THINK twice to emphasize on believing in ourselves. He said that If we think we can do something, we should give it a try, and that was what I did at that time and change my major into an entirely different one. I think that song change how I see myself and shapes me into who I am right now. Therefore, the role of storytellers and stories are impressive even nowadays. Jonathan, the author, explains in the very last part of chapter seven how nonfiction texts can bring people's shields up and make them skeptical and critical versus how stories can make them loos and convince them indirectly within the context of the story. I think this is why I got influenced by that song: All the shields of uncertainty were down at that time.
You can buy the audio book from Google and Audiobookstore or a hard copy Amazon. Enjoy!