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Why Stories Make the Ideal Tool for Initiating Difficult Conversations

The human brain is wired for stories. Research published in 2008 based on fMRI studies of the human brain as it processes stories suggests that the brain remembers and processes a well-told story as if the events in that story happened to the individual reading it in real life. This makes stories an ideal tool for initiating difficult conversations.

One of the things that happens when a person is reading or listening to a story is that the normal belief-based operating system that runs our brains suspends its core beliefs in order to adopt the beliefs of the main character or the primary narrator, at least for the duration of the story. The reader looks at the world through the eyes of the protagonist while experiencing their thoughts and feeling their emotions.

This sets the reader up to be ready to engage in conversation with others about the experiences that took place in the book. Because those experiences are tied to the main character’s life, and not to the reader's personal experiences, it subtracts some of the emotional baggage normally associated with expressing their thoughts and feelings about situations involving topics like gender, money, race, religion, or sexuality.

When done in a group setting such as a book club, these discussions are based on a shared experience within the book that everyone participating can use as a framework for conversations about those topics. The events, characters, actions, and their outcomes form a common language that they can use to describe how they see and how they feel about things.

As an author, look for ways to connect with book clubs whose members enjoy a challenge and are willing to step up and have the difficult--or awkward--conversations that your book might incite. Introduce them to your work in a manner that will make them want to take your words beyond the pages and into real-life conversations. And give them some incentives for doing so. Below is a list of some of the things Path To Publishing offers book clubs willing to do that with 'The Price We Pay,' the book being published on our traditional publishing imprint, PTP Press.

We are offering participating clubs the following resources:

  • Magnetic Thought Leadership Training to equip them to lead these conversations in a way that creates an inviting, respectful space where all voices are recognized and seen as being of equal value.

  • Lessons in how to hold difficult conversations that are productive and meaningful where both sides feel respected and heard, yet challenged and encouraged to find room for compromise.

  • A Study Guide to navigating the challenges of discussing sensitive topics in an interracial community.

  • A community of like-minded individuals who are ready and willing to lend their support and encouragement along the way.

If you want more information about 'The Price We Pay' for your book club or need help setting up your own movement and cause behind your book, reach out to the experts at Path To Publishing by emailing

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