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Such Stuff as Dreams Paperback – 15 Jul 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (15 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470974575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470974575
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 702,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagi....


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a well researched contribution to the debate about fiction as opposed to non fiction. Many people have noted that men can be much more comfortable with a solid biography ( or instruction manual) than they are with the fictional world which is found in a novel, and this book is concerned with exploring this terrain. It is deft in its establishment of the links between social skills/empathy and the consumption of fiction, and as such is a valuable companion piece to works such as "The Essential Differences" by Simon Baron Cohen.

This "Non Fiction" book will leave you with fascinating insights into the contribution which fiction can make to your roundedness as an individual and it does this with wit and skill
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book should be of interest to anyone interested in how fiction (plays and even cinema as well as novels) works. It is written in a fairly personal style by a professor of cognitive psychology who has also written novels. There are numerous references to academic studies, with 42 pages of endnotes and 24 pages of bibliography. In different chapters fiction is compared to such things as dreams and childhood play, and other topics discussed include the growth of reading groups and whether fiction is good for you. On the latter, the author concludes that reading novels (good ones!) can do much to increase empathy with other people. Among the writers with whom Oatley is particularly enamoured are Jane Austen (many references to Pride and Prejudice), Shakespeare, Chekhov, and George Eliot ("the greatest English novelist"). The ideas of Flaubert, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Henry James are also drawn upon. A worthwhile book for those interested in the subject.
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By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an interesting book about how reading fiction affects our minds, our personalities and our lives. It explains how reading fiction or watching it in the form of films grows naturally out of children's imaginative play and relates closely to dreams. People read fiction for enjoyment but they also read fiction to help them make sense of the world around them and of their personal relationships.

Drawing on the latest psychological research, the author looks at how fiction can change our personalities and reports that contrary to popular opinion those who read fiction are not loners with no friends or family. In fact it is those who read non-fiction who are more likely to fall into this category. I found it fascinating that reading a story can affect your personality to a measurable extent and that those who read fiction usually have better social skills and are better at relating to others. Whether that is cause and effect is not clear though the fact that reading a story can affect the reader's personality makes it seem that reading fiction can give you better interpersonal skills.

The book covers the rapid growth of book clubs throughout the civilised world, both online and face to face. Talking about books read can increase our own understanding of them and also our enjoyment. Book clubs, the author suggests, are as important as departments of literature at universities.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'Such Stuff as Dreams' is an academic book and should be read as such. It does read very much as though it is the basis of a series of lectures which is what one expects from an academic. It is indeed some time since I listened to lectures on English literature however I still found that the content of many of these chapters stirred up a frisson of excitement even though not reading it for academic studies. The author is particularly interested in the psychology of emotion which is perhaps what gave each chapter an extra something that a straight lecture on English literature might lack.

I read this book to convince myself that it was worth getting back into the habit of reading fiction. Am I convinced?

The core of the book for me as a layperson was in chapter 7 - Effects of Fiction - and I was particularly interested in the test of adult empathy and theory of mind to be found on the web site cited in the book. I have often wondered if fiction is good for the soul as I personally have tended more towards reading philosophy, psychology and general non-fiction than material that apes reality. I found it interesting that the author draws on Plato as someone who banned poetry and all fiction. This is because rather like Plato I felt that truth does not exist in this world, only shadows. Fiction is thus just 'a shadow of a shadow on the walls' of the cave wherein we are prisoners. However, emotion is part of being human and we can't ignore it and ignore it at our peril.

Reading this book has indeed convinced me of the value of getting back into the habit of reading fiction. Through fiction the author shows us that we grow to understand others and their way of thinking and indeed 'emoting'. We see through the eyes of others who we may never encounter in real life.
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