Thinking About Stories is a fun and thought-provoking introduction to philosophical questions about narrative fiction in its many forms, from highbrow literature to pulp fiction to the latest shows on Netflix.

Written by philosophers Samuel Lebens and Tatjana von Solodkoff, it engages with fundamental questions about fiction, such as: What is it? What does it give us? Does a story need a narrator? And why do sad stories make us cry if we know they aren’t real? The format of the book emulates a lively, verbal exchange: each chapter has only one author while the other appears spontaneously in dialogues in the text along the way, raising questions and voicing criticisms, and inviting responses from their co-author. This unique format allows readers to feel like they are a part of the conversation about the philosophical foundations of some of the fictions in their own lives.

Key Features

  • Draws on a wide range of types of narrative fiction, from Harry Potter to Breakfast of Champions to Parks and Recreation
  • Explores how fiction, despite its detachment from truth, is often best able to teach us important things about the world in which we live
  • Concludes by asking in the final chapter whether we all might be fictions
  • Includes bibliographies and suggested reading lists in each chapter

chapter |4 pages


chapter Chapter 1|32 pages

What Is Fiction?


chapter Chapter 2|25 pages

What Is a Work of Fiction?


chapter Chapter 3|19 pages

What Are Fictional Characters?

chapter Chapter 4|22 pages

Do Fictional Characters Really Exist?

chapter Chapter 5|19 pages

Imagination and Fiction

chapter Chapter 6|22 pages

Interpreting Fiction


chapter Chapter 7|25 pages

Does Every Story Have a Fictional Narrator?

chapter Chapter 8|14 pages

Why Are You Crying?


chapter Chapter 9|24 pages

The Paradox of Tragedy

chapter Chapter 10|22 pages

The Puzzle of Imaginative Struggles

chapter Chapter 11|20 pages

What Can We Learn from Fiction?


chapter Chapter 12|22 pages

Are You Fictional?