THE HEALING POWER OF STORIES: Creating Yourself Through the Stories of Your Life by Daniel Taylor

THE HEALING POWER OF STORIES: Creating Yourself Through the Stories of Your Life

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Although the title implies a self-help book, this is no pop psychology how-to but an old-fashioned moral essay that speaks of character and values. Taylor (English/Bethel College; Letters to My Children, not reviewed) believes that stories make it possible for us to be human; they ""tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are doing."" We learn them as family stories and as school and religious lessons; strangers surround us with their stories on television, in movies, and in books and magazines; and we tell our own stories about ourselves. They preserve our memories, explain our present, and help us imagine our future. With tales such as Huckleberry Finn, Taylor illustrates how exposure to characters in stories helps to mold one's own character, and using Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, he demonstrates how stories shape one's view of the world. They teach us that character is more important than personality, and they challenge us to be characters engaged in life, not simply passive spectators. The values of every human society are captured in its stories, says Taylor, and to be civilized is to internalize those values; thus we are defined by our stories and by the stories we choose to tell our children. The healing power of stories, he says, comes from their power to reconnect us with others, for a story implies a community of at least two, a teller and a listener, each with responsibilities to the other. An appendix includes questions about readers' own stories; in answering the questions, says Taylor, readers will find better understanding not only of the stories but of themselves. Makes a trip to the library seem more rewarding than a session with one's therapist.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Doubleday