Everybody is a storyteller

"We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories," declares Jonathan Gottschall in the preface to his recent book The Storytelling Animal.

Just as pilots train on a computerized flight simulator, so do humans learn to deal with life situations by practicing them through the medium of stories:

"Through stories we learn about human culture and psychology, without the potentially staggering costs of having to gain this experience firsthand". It is because stories help us rehearse how to deal with life's potential problems ... 

Because the purpose of stories is to teach us about life, the job of our storytelling mind is to make sense of what happens in the world around us.

But if our experiences don't contain obvious meaning and purpose, our mind will fill in what's missing from those experiences so as to create a meaningful story:

"If the storytelling mind cannot find meaningful patterns in the world, it will try to impose them. In short, the storytelling mind is a factory that churns out true stories when it can, but will manufacture lies when it can't".

According to Gottschall, the stories our minds create serve one overarching purpose: They make society work better by defining and inculcating a sense of morality. ... Even literary works contribute to teaching morality:  "Fiction almost never gives us morally neutral presentations of violence. When the villain kills, his or her violence is condemned. When the hero kills, he or she does so righteously. Fiction drives home the message that violence is acceptable only under clearly defined circumstances—to protect the good and the weak from the bad and the strong". He cites newly emerging research suggesting that reading fiction affects people's brain functioning and thereby helps shape their outlooks and attitudes; he notes that reading nonfiction does not produce the same results."

More: http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=6527&cn=139

### END OF POST ###


Is an Audiobook not a Book?

"Harold Bloom, the literary critic, once expressed doubt about the audiobook.

“Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear,” he told the Times. “You need the whole cognitive process, that part of you which is open to wisdom. You need the text in front of you.”

While this is perhaps true for serious literary criticism, it’s manifestly not true when it comes to experiencing a book purely for the pleasure of its characters, setting, dialogue, drama, and the Scheherazadean impulse to know what happens next —which, all apologies to Bloom, is why most people pick up a book in the first place. Homer, after all, was an oral storyteller, as were all “literary artists” who came before him, back to when storytelling, around the primal campfire, would have been invented—grounds for the argument that our brains were first (and thus best?) adapted to absorb long, complex fictions by ear, rather than by eye."

More: http://m.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/05/history-of-audiobooks.html

### END OF POST ###


You are what you read

"A new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that if a book is absorbing enough for its reader, the characters on a page can actually change future behaviors of the reader.

But only if the books are good. And only if your reader can identify with the main characters.

Researchers at Ohio State University looked at what happened to those participants in the study who reported that while reading a piece of fiction, they found themselves “feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own.” The researchers call this particular reaction “experience-taking.” It’s know among avid readers as “losing yourself in a good book.”


### END OF POST ###


How Reading Keeps Your Mind Sharp

"Just like muscles, the brain benefits from a good workout. And reading is more neurobiologically demanding than processing images or speech. As you're absorbing, say, this article, "parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging ... A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain." In general, your intelligence is called to action, as is greater concentration. "We are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine ... Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don't press pause."

"The benefits of all this mental activity include keeping your memory sharp, your learning capacity nimble, and your mind basically hardier as you age."

More: http://www.oprah.com/health/How-Reading-Can-Improve-Your-Memory

### END OF POST ###