Title/Author: The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams with Gail Hudson
Publisher: Celadon Books
In a nutshell (Publisher):
This is another brilliant book! I mean, how can it not be when it’s by Jane Goodall, right! Definitely adding this to my top 10 reads of 2021. I think I’m finally on a roll here, finding good reads when 2021 is coming to an end! So, if you’re like me, don’t give up. There’s still hope until 2021 is REALLY OVER!
The book is divided into four sections, Four Reasons for Hope:
- The Amazing Human Intellect
- The Resilience of Nature
- The Power of Young People
- The Indomitable Human Spirit
By merely reading how she got into the science field and carved her own path to becoming a renowned anthropologist, is enough to give one hope. She wasn’t an established scientist, nor did she have an undergraduate degree, but her passion, drive and love for what she does brought her to Dr. Louis S.B. Leakey, ‘the man who made my dream come true’.
Written in a conversation-like manner, reading this felt like you were sitting there watching and listening to two friends having an intellectual conversation over meals and drinks.
So. QOTD. What’s hope? Hope, to me, is something that gives you the reason to not give up, to keep moving forward, to persevere, to tell yourself that whatever hardships that you’re going through right now, is worth the while, because there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Douglas asked Jane if hope is an emotion, and Jane answered, “It’s an aspect of our survival.” When he probed further, asking if it’s a survival skill, she said, “It is a survival trait and without it we perish.”
There you go…succinct and wise, and I couldn’t agree more.
Hope, she said, “does not deny the evil but is a response to it”, that it was not just wishful thinking but did take into account facts and obstacles, and not letting them overwhelm us, which was why she believed that one of the four reasons for hope was the human intellect, something that differentiated us from animals. But Abrams argued, isn’t our intellect the one that brought us to where we are today, at the brink of destruction? Look at the world now, struggling to survive this pandemic. But it is also our intellect that “we have the ability to make conscious choices as to how we react in different situations.” and she urged us to use our human intellect wisely by finding ways to alleviate poverty, reduce unsustainable lifestyles of the affluent, eliminate corruption and the problems caused by growing populations, both humans and their livestock.
But, Abrams asked, can we heal what had been harmed?
To answer that question, Jane shared inspiring stories of the resilience of nature – about Survivor, a Callery pear tree, only a charred stump with only one living branch when discovered by a cleanup worker a month after the collapse of the towers. With the worker’s care and love, the tree survived and is now at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. It now stands as a sign of hope and perseverance.
Even if one doesn’t care about the future, think about the children. Jane quoted a famous saying that we haven’t inherited earth from our ancestors but borrowed it from our children, who today, are unfortunate witnesses of destruction of our doings. The young people Jane had met throughout her travels were “apathetic“, “disengaged“, “or angry and sometimes violent or deeply depressed” expressing their concerns for their future which “has been compromised, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” With Roots and Shoots, Jane hopes to instill in them, knowledge and hope, that they can take action and make changes, like stop buying products that harm the environment, hurt animals or that are cheap because of child slave labor or unfair wages, to make wise choices and think “what sort of impact we will make.” and understand that everything is interrelated, what goes around comes around.
Throughout the book, I was touched by all the inspiring stories that Goodall and Abrams shared, and the last section, the indomitable human spirit, had me in tears. When I think of indomitable spirits, I think of victims of wars, of people who not only survived, but rebuilt their lives and their countries. Jane said, it is our “ability to deliberately tackle what may seem to be an impossible task.” that make us so resilient. One story she shared was about two best friends from rural China, one blind, the other armless. In an effort to get his friend out of depression, Wenqi wanted to find something they could do that would give purpose to Haixia’s life. So, he suggested that they save their village which had become degraded because of pollution, by planting trees. They failed at their first attempt, as the land was too dry, and they didn’t have any financial aid. But with Wenqi said quitting wasn’t an option. And with that they pushed on. Till today, they have planted more than 10,000 trees in their village.
Here’s a short video of the two indomitable spirits:
Everyone’s born for a reason; we each have a role to play. Even for people who had found their life meaningless and lost hope, Jane said, “sometimes it is possible to rouse them from a seemingly meaningless life with a really good story. One that will reach their hearts and wake them up.” She then shared her take on Lord of the Rings, how the two little hobbits and their friends fought against the mighty Mordor, the orcs and the Black Riders and those flying beasts despite knowing their odds of winning. And towards the end there was Sam sprinkling bits of earth on the destroyed lands and nature sprang back to life. She saw that the earth represented the projects people are doing to restore habitats on planet Earth.
Stories have very unique ways of affecting and reaching out to people. And I hope one of her messages and/or stories will reach out to those who are in need of them, especially in these challenging times.
I have gifted 2 copies of this book, one to a friend, another to someone in my family, who’s going through a tough phase in her life. I pray and hope the best for her. If she does decide to read this book, I hope it will help her see and find hope.
Thank you, Celadon Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If not, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!
8 Comments Add yours
Jee, this sounds like a book we should all be reading, thank you for your review.
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What an inspiring book Jee, thank you for sharing the review! It sounds like a read that will provoke strong emotions in the reader.
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I’ll definitely go for a book that feels like reading an intellectual conversation. Wow! Wonderful review, Jee! 😍
Thank you, Shaina!
WOW! After reading your thoughts on this book, I’m definitely ordering it NOW!
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Hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂
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