The best storytelling library

By Limor Shiponi

Someone sent me an email a couple of days ago, wanting to know what would be the best storytelling library to have. There are many books on the market claiming to teach how to become a storyteller, how to apply storytelling or how to win fame, riches and power via storytelling. In addition there are plenty of recordings and especially short videos around storytelling, so what would really be the best library to have?

All those materials are just collateral. I’ve got tones of them at home. I’ve even been through most of them. Did I learn much? Not really and when I did it was because I’m already a mature storyteller, so I could recognize the essence from the subordinate. If I wasn’t I might have been captivated by the promises.

The best storytelling library is comprised of two sections – original oral texts put to the page and listening to a hell of a lot of storytellers in live performance or when they speak about their work.

P.S. A lot of what I’m reading about ‘something storytelling’ or ‘storytelling for something’ makes me think many of those writers have never actually met a storyteller face to face.

11 thoughts on “The best storytelling library”

  1. Agreeing on the best library is in our heads. I have boatloads of books that serve places to cast my line when I need to reel in some new story starters.

    Oh, and I stood up and clapped my hands at “many of those writers have never actually met a storyteller face to face.” I wish I knew enough French to be able to have a cool, succinct phrase to say that it’s the current fashion to bash the oral storytelling community when one is creating a “new” idea about storytelling.

    I’ve seen this repeatedly. It’s not good for any of us when Someone brings mud to the stone soup and then Someone blames everyone else (who put vegetables in before you) for making bad soup.

    1. Well, after getting fed-up with getting angry about all that trash I think it is time to do something that might put things in place. After pondering these issues for a long time I reckon only pre-historical oral storytellers can do that… matter of perspective. I’m going to start releasing some thoughts and you are most welcome to join in. So are you Allan and any other archaic oral relic…

      1. I was going to say ‘we relics should probably stick together’, but maybe not – if we’re all in a huddle somewhere it makes it too easy for some predator to come and get us all in one fell swoop!

        1. Considering how tasty we are, I think you’re right 🙂 on the other hand, storytellers of the ancient relic kind are phoenix-like – they will always return…

          1. Nothing like a dunk in some predator’s digestive juices to hone the wit and sharpen the satire 🙂
            Given how keen some people seem to be to be to hijack the ‘power of storytelling’ to their own ends, strikes me as deeply ironic that it never seems to have occurred to self-same predators that we might have something to say about the matter.
            What kind of idiot disses a storyteller ?

          2. Idiot we are crowned often and for some reason we might perceive it as a compliment. The problem is the context 🙂

  2. Listening to the type of storytelling you want to do yourself is important. For example, if you want to be a performance storyteller of the like of Jay O’Callaghan (to pluck a name from the storytelling Pantheon) then that’s the type of storytelling you need to pay attention to. If however, you wish to be a business storyteller then you need to listen to business storytellers. Now that is much harder because they don’t typically publish their tellings. In most cases you have to see it in the moment while working in business. There are some websites now like 50 lessons that provide some examples but there is less storytelling there than what they make out.

    1. Fun conversation.

      All storytelling is in the moment. All of it. All the time. Other art forms exist that use story that can be second-hand uni-directional presentations. Not storytelling. There’s nothing new happening in business storytelling. Some businesses are starting to understand that there’s a conversation they’ve been missing- that missing piece is part of storytelling. Every storytelling I present is a conversation. Has been for decades for me. Has been for, perhaps, millennium for the Human Race.

      There isn’t a way to be a business storyteller that is different from being a storyteller anywhere else. The art and method is the same, the audience changes and therefore the style changes. This has always been true of storytelling: what does my audience need now from me? Storytelling requires implied or direct conversation on the stage or the boardroom.

  3. In any kind of activity you are interested in its good to seek close examples at the beginning. They make sense since they are close to what you might be imagining. They also might be showing you where you need to adjust your expectations. Further on down the road and after you have some small experiences of your own, it can be wise to seek examples that are part of the core discipline. They teach deeper lessons and you can be more secure with the fact that what you are looking at is not a wannabie application of the wrong kind.

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