"Fascinating. . . . It blew my mind!"
– Malcolm Gladwell
"If Wonderworks had been around then, I would have sat my son down and read Angus Fletcher’s exploration of the history and the psychology of literature to him, word by word. . . . I hope it will convince others that there are benefits and pleasures that you can get from literature that are unique and valuable."
– Jane Smiley, The Guardian
"I'm totally obsessed with Wonderworks. It swallowed me whole."
– Brené Brown, "Unlocking Us with Brené Brown," Parcast Network
"An intelligent, engaged and erudite attempt to neurologically tackle not just some abstract and simplified 'story', but some of the world’s greatest narratives, from the Iliad to Dream of the Red Chamber, from Disney’s Up to the novels of Elena Ferrante. It speaks to the inner reader in us all, as well as to the inner neurologist."
– Simon Ings, New Scientist
“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
"If you are interested in both writing and science this is an unmissable book. . . . Fresh and inspiring."
– Brian Clegg, Popular Science
"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
“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
"Innovative . . . A fresh take on the history of literature and a testament to the enduring power of reading."
– Publishers Weekly