Rather, should you read The Hero With A Thousand Faces? This book is where the Hero’s Journey concept originates. My answer: It depends.

It’s a Friday afternoon in glorious Florida. The thermostat in my car read 83 degrees outside. I know this might sound hot, but to me, it’s just great, especially when I was supposed to travel to Dallas this weekend. They’re supposed to get clobbered with a snowstorm this weekend. Sorry, Dallas.

I have spent a lot of time with Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, lately. It’s one of these books that is heavily referenced in conversations about storytelling and narratives.

The thing is, this is a really hard book.

I would even call it academic. I had it on my list for a long time and have finally started digging in. The fact is, it’s hardly about storytelling because what it’s really about is mythology. Throughout the book, Campbell builds the case for the mono myth on the basis of mythology from around the world and across the ages. In other words, his point is that all stories are essentially the same.

Here are a few things I have learned from this book.

  1. There are patterns that repeat themselves in storytelling across time and geography.
  2. We use stories to personify and attempt to understand nature, deities, the mind and other mysterious domains.
  3. Dreams express our subconscious. Our subconscious plays a massive role in producing stories.

So, if you’re asking yourself, ‘should I read The Hero With A Thousand Faces?’ If these topics interest you, then yes. It’s fascinating and not like anything I’ve read before. However, it’s not a great book for someone just starting to delve into storytelling theory. I’m a little further along in my learning journey and still it’s a lot for me to take in. But if you’re like me and curious about how characters tic, this book should absolutely be on your list.

Categories: Fellow Writers


Hi there. I'm a writer and reserve military officer with a day job. I write fiction, professional essays on military topics, and wax philosophical about books and movies. I live in Florida with my husband, two kids, and two cats.


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