"Fascinating. . . . It blew my mind!"
– Malcolm Gladwell
“I’ve been living in Wonderworks for several weeks now, dazzled by its innovations, wild surmises, gifts of insight, unlikely readings and – perhaps most of all – its inspirational force. Angus Fletcher is that rare critic who actually has something to say, who grabs us by the collar and hopes to shake sense into us. This may be one of the most important and truly useful books about literature written in the past decade. It opens a vista into reading that regards writing as a kind of continual experiment in human and societal engineering. That Wonderworks deserves a wide audience goes without saying. It’s refreshing and remarkable on so many levels.”
– Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me: An Encounter
"Reading good books doesn’t just entertain us; it teaches us how to better use our brains and our emotions, as this lively treatise tells us . . . An idiosyncratic, richly detailed, often lyrical invitation to reconsider how and why to read literature."
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Aristotle’s Poetics was new and brave but was left incomplete. Angus Fletcher finishes it in Wonderworks with some help from contemporary science and an abundance of penetrating analyses. Fletcher endorses storytelling as a foundational technology but he goes beyond that to illustrate its therapeutic value and centrality to cultural invention. Wonderworks is the perfect counter to our season in hell.”
– Antonio Damasio, author of The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling and the Making of Cultures; Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California
“Find one polymath. Take a profound knowledge of world literature. Add a deep knowledge of modern psychology and of neuroscience. Add a cupful of worldly wisdom. Stir in an enchanting prose style. Heat until bubbling. You have just baked a unique, marvelous treat: Angus Fletcher’s Wonderworks.”
– Martin Seligman, author of The Hope Circuit and Learned Optimism; Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania
“Wonderworks unleashes the transport, suspense, paradox, and power of stories. All the ideas glossed—from Aristotle and Shakespeare to contemporary neurosciences—exhibit the literary invention that constitute the subject of the book, creating a tour-de-force of knowledge, fantasy, and the desire to heal.”
– Rita Charon, MD, PhD, Executive Director, Columbia Narrative Medicine, Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons
“An epic, a masterpiece. Angus Fletcher has reached deep into history and far in contemporary neuroscience to give us a magisterial synthesis of why and how humans not just make literature but use it to navigate our worlds.”
– Blakely Vermeule, author of Why Do We Care About Literary Characters?, Albert Guérard Professor of Literature, Stanford University
“Drawing upon insights from neuroscience and evolutionary biology, an expert in the art of storytelling explains why literature matters by showing, through lucid examples, the myriad ways that literature’s bag of tricks works with and for our minds. Anyone who has experienced wonder in an encounter with literature will profit from this wise and clever book.”
– Lawrence Manley, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English, Yale University
“Extraordinary . . . Angus Fletcher has not only set out a radical vision of literature as a technology that helps us, he has also provided a wonderfully varied and generously introduced reading list . . . Wonderworks brings inspiration, and an exciting challenge, to read and to think hard about literature, and it's a pleasure to read.”
– Raphael Lyne, Professor of Renaissance Literature, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge; Fellow of Murray Edwards College
“Readers will be impressed by Fletcher’s scope and inclusion of literary invention. Wonderworks is for those readers who like to consider the history of literature, yes, but also those who like to think about the technical aspects of literary devices used across that history.”
– Library Journal
"Innovative . . . A fresh take on the history of literature and a testament to the enduring power of reading."
– Publishers Weekly