Hot Best Seller

Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction

Availability: Ready to download

Why do we read and what happens when we do? Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. -- Demonstrates how reading fiction can contribute to a greater understanding of, and the ability to change, ourselves -- Informed by the latest psychological research which focuses on, for example, Why do we read and what happens when we do? Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. -- Demonstrates how reading fiction can contribute to a greater understanding of, and the ability to change, ourselves -- Informed by the latest psychological research which focuses on, for example, how identification with fictional characters occurs, and how literature can improve social abilities -- Explores traditional aspects of fiction, including character, plot, setting, and theme, as well as a number of classic techniques, such as metaphor, metonymy, defamiliarization, and cues -- Includes extensive end-notes, which ground the work in psychological studies -- Features excerpts from fiction which are discussed throughout the text, including works by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Kate Chopin, Anton Chekhov, James Baldwin, and others "Like the best fiction, this insightful book illuminates fundamental truths about our minds, relationship, emotions, creativity, and how these come together to form stories with lasting impact. It is an engaging, wide-ranging, and scientifically-grounded journey from fiction's roots in childhood through its continuing role in our lives. Professor Oatley is the perfect guide through the psychology of fiction: he combines the deep expertise of a scholar and the passion of a lifelong reader with a writer's touch. This book is a delightful and thought-provoking read for anyone interested in literature, how it works, and why it is so important to the human experience." - Melanie C. Green, Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina


Compare

Why do we read and what happens when we do? Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. -- Demonstrates how reading fiction can contribute to a greater understanding of, and the ability to change, ourselves -- Informed by the latest psychological research which focuses on, for example, Why do we read and what happens when we do? Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. -- Demonstrates how reading fiction can contribute to a greater understanding of, and the ability to change, ourselves -- Informed by the latest psychological research which focuses on, for example, how identification with fictional characters occurs, and how literature can improve social abilities -- Explores traditional aspects of fiction, including character, plot, setting, and theme, as well as a number of classic techniques, such as metaphor, metonymy, defamiliarization, and cues -- Includes extensive end-notes, which ground the work in psychological studies -- Features excerpts from fiction which are discussed throughout the text, including works by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Kate Chopin, Anton Chekhov, James Baldwin, and others "Like the best fiction, this insightful book illuminates fundamental truths about our minds, relationship, emotions, creativity, and how these come together to form stories with lasting impact. It is an engaging, wide-ranging, and scientifically-grounded journey from fiction's roots in childhood through its continuing role in our lives. Professor Oatley is the perfect guide through the psychology of fiction: he combines the deep expertise of a scholar and the passion of a lifelong reader with a writer's touch. This book is a delightful and thought-provoking read for anyone interested in literature, how it works, and why it is so important to the human experience." - Melanie C. Green, Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina

30 review for Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    It's all true and proved by scientific research. Readers really ARE the better human beings. Better at empathy and theory-of-mind. Better at mental modelling. Better at this test: http://glennrowe.net/BaronCohen/Faces... I scored 29, which is not terrific, just good middling normal, but all the ones I got wrong were at the end of the test, so maybe it was just my concentration slipping at the end of a rather busy day. And reading too much non-fiction. Fiction is better for schooling that empathy w It's all true and proved by scientific research. Readers really ARE the better human beings. Better at empathy and theory-of-mind. Better at mental modelling. Better at this test: http://glennrowe.net/BaronCohen/Faces... I scored 29, which is not terrific, just good middling normal, but all the ones I got wrong were at the end of the test, so maybe it was just my concentration slipping at the end of a rather busy day. And reading too much non-fiction. Fiction is better for schooling that empathy with the self and its vicissitudes, apparently. Yes, this IS the perfect book to remove any guilt you may have had about indulging your taste for novels. Listen carefully while Uncle Keith says it again: reading novels is good for you. Literature is important. Keith Oatley is Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Toronto. He has obviously had the same kind of life-long love affair with reading as a lot of people here, and is also a writer of fiction himself including The Case of Emily V, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Novel in 1994. Oddly for someone with writing expertise, this book gets off to a rather shaky start. I think he was looking for a hook to draw readers in, and his hook is a bit of mild research he's done into Shakespeare's use of the word 'dream'. The Open Source Shakespeare Concordance has some strange outgrowths. So he does a bit of rather rambling and faintly amateurish interpretation of bits of Shakespeare, which don't seem to take us to the core of what he wants to say at all. Once he gets down to the psychology business, the stuff he really knows well and can convey clearly, then things march along at a brisk pace. And although parts might seem a little trite (a good book can transport you, the swift literary history), there are some wonderful little nuggets in there too. His research team (can I join?) analysed 52 Paris Review interviews with writers. 33 of them were asked a question about whether they made new discoveries in the course of writing. 30 said that they did, and these discoveries frequently included characters acting in ways the writers had not expected. Then one of the excellent endnotes tells us about fundamental attribution bias: people tend to explain others' behaviour in terms of persistent traits of personality, whereas they explain their own behaviour in terms of circumstance. So it is apparent that these writers run a kind of simulation, and see their characters as extensions of themselves who are constrained by circumstance rather than by the personality given them by their author. Don't leave out the end notes. That's where the nuggets are. And you'll need a high tolerance of typos. And since when was it OK to cite the title of a book Pride and prejudice rather than Pride and Prejudice?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jo Bennie

    I don't think my brain has worked this hard for over a decade since I left university, but like riding a bike it's amazing how much comes back to you. Oatley has written a tantalising book about the relationship of readers to all kinds of fictions, not just books but also movies and television. Moving beyond reader-response theory Oatley theorises that when we read we create a simulation in our minds of the fictional world, a dream which we enter into and interact with, and draws on science to s I don't think my brain has worked this hard for over a decade since I left university, but like riding a bike it's amazing how much comes back to you. Oatley has written a tantalising book about the relationship of readers to all kinds of fictions, not just books but also movies and television. Moving beyond reader-response theory Oatley theorises that when we read we create a simulation in our minds of the fictional world, a dream which we enter into and interact with, and draws on science to show that reading about an action such as kicking activates the same area in our brain as doing that action for ourselves. He speaks of the social aspect of writing, in particular function, both in terms of speaking to others about what we are reading and with regard to how fiction can help us negotiate the social world for ourselves by presenting us with a myriad of scenarios the total of which could not be contained in a single lifetime. As a voracious reader I loved this book but was left wanting more, what are the regions of the brain that have been implicated in reading, what can neuroscience tell us?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    DNF. Likely a reader/book mismatch. I like reading. I like psychology. I even like statistics (sometimes). Clearly, based on the other ratings here, this book is either wonderful and I'm missing the party or else the author is owed a lot of favors from friends and colleagues, which they've decided to repay with the currency of five star reviews. (Hey, he wouldn't be the first; he won't be the last.) Nonetheless, after 60+ pages of this, I find it the sort of dry, monotonous over-analyzing of the DNF. Likely a reader/book mismatch. I like reading. I like psychology. I even like statistics (sometimes). Clearly, based on the other ratings here, this book is either wonderful and I'm missing the party or else the author is owed a lot of favors from friends and colleagues, which they've decided to repay with the currency of five star reviews. (Hey, he wouldn't be the first; he won't be the last.) Nonetheless, after 60+ pages of this, I find it the sort of dry, monotonous over-analyzing of the obvious that could suck the joy out of Christmas. Probably awesome stuff if one is writing a grant application for a library, but not engrossing for pleasure reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    الشناوي محمد جبر

    كتاب يتحدث عن أثر الرواية في النفس الإنسانية، من آثار الرواية أنها تعود الإنسان علي مواجهة مواقف حياتية قد يكون لم يمر بها من قبل، فهي تعتبر ميدان تدريب جيد علي مواقف الحياة، بخلاف الفوائد الكثيرة التي نعرفها، منها مثلا: التدريب علي اللغة بصورة جيدة وتنمية بعض المهارات الجتماعية. الكتاب واسع وهو نقدي أكاديمي وفيه الكثير من الملل.

  5. 4 out of 5

    VickiLee

    Whew! Fascinating, but this reading exhausted me. I had to put Google to good use to fully understand some of the allusions used in parts of the book. However, I did enjoy reading it even though I had to karate chop my way a variety of thickets for full understanding.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fabiana Kubke

    David Barnes' review at Times Higher Education http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk... David Barnes' review at Times Higher Education http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I wish there was more science in this and less hypothetical BS, especially since the research Oatley is engaged is actually kind of interesting. Again, I think it's an audience mismatch. I wish there was more science in this and less hypothetical BS, especially since the research Oatley is engaged is actually kind of interesting. Again, I think it's an audience mismatch.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael Pronko

    Very well written and full of insight into the process of reading fiction. The research was tentative at times, but it's still interesting to see the directions the psychology of reading could be taken. Some, even most, of the topics have been covered in other work, but the chapters on creativity and emotion were especially well done. This is a positive way of approaching the issue, and while the approach seems poised between research and theory, the balance seems insightful just the same. This Very well written and full of insight into the process of reading fiction. The research was tentative at times, but it's still interesting to see the directions the psychology of reading could be taken. Some, even most, of the topics have been covered in other work, but the chapters on creativity and emotion were especially well done. This is a positive way of approaching the issue, and while the approach seems poised between research and theory, the balance seems insightful just the same. This book does not explain the entire set of issues, nor does it ground it all in sold research, but it does suggest fascinating ideas about how fiction works and what it does for humans.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alysa H.

    Oatley's enthusiasm for his subject fairly jumps off the page, and -- after a well-intentioned but ill-advised first chapter about Shakespeare -- the ideas in this book are interesting, but most will be obvious and/or familiar to the educated reader. That is to say, this is a book that spends many many pages attempting to carefully explain things that most of its readers already intuit. I especially liked Chapters 4 ("Character, action, incident") and 5 ("Emotions"), in which Oakley gets into the Oatley's enthusiasm for his subject fairly jumps off the page, and -- after a well-intentioned but ill-advised first chapter about Shakespeare -- the ideas in this book are interesting, but most will be obvious and/or familiar to the educated reader. That is to say, this is a book that spends many many pages attempting to carefully explain things that most of its readers already intuit. I especially liked Chapters 4 ("Character, action, incident") and 5 ("Emotions"), in which Oakley gets into the nitty-gritty of why certain great literature works as well as it does.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I didn't finish. I love fiction. There was too much contradiction in reading a non-fiction book about fiction. Maybe this proves Oatley's points, but I didn't make it to the end to find out. Maybe this could be his next research topic: who is reading this book? Readers of fiction, or non-fiction? Do the ratings have a relationship to fiction v non-fiction reading preference? I didn't finish. I love fiction. There was too much contradiction in reading a non-fiction book about fiction. Maybe this proves Oatley's points, but I didn't make it to the end to find out. Maybe this could be his next research topic: who is reading this book? Readers of fiction, or non-fiction? Do the ratings have a relationship to fiction v non-fiction reading preference?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tara Mc

    I really enjoyed this journey through the different ways in which literature and the mind together create our realities, the ways we see things, and how we view others. It's a great addition to the other work on literature and cognition, reading and the brain, and how we 'are what we read'. The progression through childhood to the mature, experienced reader's view of the world through reading was satisfying. Its connections to other books in the field were clear, and well signposted. I found the I really enjoyed this journey through the different ways in which literature and the mind together create our realities, the ways we see things, and how we view others. It's a great addition to the other work on literature and cognition, reading and the brain, and how we 'are what we read'. The progression through childhood to the mature, experienced reader's view of the world through reading was satisfying. Its connections to other books in the field were clear, and well signposted. I found the references to non-fiction and world building really thought-provoking. The only criticism I would have is that the book sometimes left the reader questioning things which were left unsaid and some chapters ended abruptly. A bit like my brief review here.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Lots of interesting stuff in here. It's kind of heavy going, though, and I think I'd need to go through it several times to absorb half of it. A little too dry for that. Also, near the end, I sensed a fair bit of snobbery in favor of literary fiction, as if no good could ever be found in genre fiction. In fact, he seemed to place almost all genre fiction on the same level as the most egregious, assembly-line pulp fiction. As a lover of science fiction and fantasy, I take exception to that. I've Lots of interesting stuff in here. It's kind of heavy going, though, and I think I'd need to go through it several times to absorb half of it. A little too dry for that. Also, near the end, I sensed a fair bit of snobbery in favor of literary fiction, as if no good could ever be found in genre fiction. In fact, he seemed to place almost all genre fiction on the same level as the most egregious, assembly-line pulp fiction. As a lover of science fiction and fantasy, I take exception to that. I've even read a bit of romance and I am convinced that much of the good he attributes to reading literary fiction, I've also gained despite having only read a small amount to the more highbrow stuff. I guess we're all entitled to our opinions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    A wonderful book which didn't feel like the standard research publication at all. Lots of great literary references and points made, although a bit more research would have been appreciated. However, it feels like I've underlined half the book, so I must award five stars for this one. More thoughts are over on Tolstoy Therapy for my Fiction on the Brain series. A wonderful book which didn't feel like the standard research publication at all. Lots of great literary references and points made, although a bit more research would have been appreciated. However, it feels like I've underlined half the book, so I must award five stars for this one. More thoughts are over on Tolstoy Therapy for my Fiction on the Brain series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim McIntosh

    Keith Oatley is excellent on what happens when literature splashes upon the mind. Why do novels have such a powerful impact upon us? What is their moral effect? Oatley's "Such Stuff" brings great insights to these questions. Keith Oatley is excellent on what happens when literature splashes upon the mind. Why do novels have such a powerful impact upon us? What is their moral effect? Oatley's "Such Stuff" brings great insights to these questions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bill Lalonde

    A wonderful book detailing how fiction works as a simulation created by the author that then runs in and is modified by the reader's mind. It covers the beginnings of fiction in imagination, the creative process, talking about fiction, and more. Highly recommended. A wonderful book detailing how fiction works as a simulation created by the author that then runs in and is modified by the reader's mind. It covers the beginnings of fiction in imagination, the creative process, talking about fiction, and more. Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Art

    suggestion from The New Yorker, June 9, 2015, Cultural Comment. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cult... suggestion from The New Yorker, June 9, 2015, Cultural Comment. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cult...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ms. S...........

    excellent. great bibliography for building on research, too.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Interesting but a tad weighty for bedtime reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Story

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Israel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nargess

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  27. 4 out of 5

    KimberlyRose

  28. 5 out of 5

    Todd Williams

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather Stowell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalie French

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...