Book cover with Jane Goodall

The Book of Hope was an inspiring read to close out 2023.

Mountainside Mutts book club has met for a year now and it was only fitting that 2023’s last selection brought our reading full circle – tying together themes of respect for the environment and other animals that we’ve seen in some of our other title choices. As the long nights are drawing in around us A Survival Guide for Trying Times” is just what many of us need at this time of year.  And there is no figurehead quite like Jane Goodall to help you put things into perspective. Mountainside Mutts Book Club Review Rating: 🦴🦴🦴🦴

After a couple of not-so-great selections (“What Would Animals Say if we asked the right questions” by Vinciane Despret (ohh la laa, deep questions, French translation) and “Winter World” Bernd Heinrich (as silent in your mind and imagination as the winter world he is describing) ) it was rewarding to read the joint project of Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams (the same author who wrote “The Book of Joy” with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu”.) Under 235 pages, clearly written, engaging, and yes, inspiring, this is one book you could certainly consider gifting to that hard-to-shop for friend or family member. Written pre and post-pandemic, the book feels familiar. Trying Times are not a thing of the past. Global warming, divisiveness, and the rising support for authoritarian and fascist political movements are still very much issues of the day. The Book of Hope provides a glimmer of light. 

For Jane, “Hope isn’t always based on logic. In fact, it can seem very illogical.  Her belief in the future comes down to 4 reasons: The amazing human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of youth, and the indomitable human spirit.  

Quotation "Discipline is important, but I believe it is crucial that a small child is not punished for something that he or she has not been gently taught is wrong."

We love insights that apply equally to dog training!

Even though people are capable of truly awful things, including the damage they have inflicted on the environment, they are also the engineers of incredible creations that have the potential to change so many lives for the better. The scars we have left on the earth are frightening but given time, nature has a way of rebounding. The question of course is whether we are providing sufficient time for recovery. And you can’t help but be moved by the stories of “Roots & Shoots”, Goodall’s youth program. When people put their minds to it, they can truly accomplish anything. Not just a generation of Influencer-Idolizers or Tik-Tokkers, students of today have a passion and determination to make things better before it is too late.  These are Jane’s reasons for going on every day and believing that the future isn’t all bleak.

But people have to see the interconnectedness. “Everything is interrelated”. You can’t expect someone to care about the environment if they don’t have a roof over their head and food on their table. Meeting people’s most basic needs must come first. Each of us needs to be more aware of how our choices affect everyone else. “If everyone…..starts to think about the consequences of what we do, for example, what we buy……if we all start to ask whether its production harmed the environment, or hurt animals, or is cheap because of child slave labor or unfair wages – and, if so, we refuse to buy it – well, billions of these kinds of ethical choices will move us toward the kind of world we need.” Yes! Click, treat.

Jane Goodall is a wonderful female icon – she went places no one thought a young girl could go, and she changed minds about things people said she knew nothing about. In a world of social media comparisons, it can be hard to remain true to what you believe. But hang on to your values. You can make some small difference every day. “Our collective hopes and dreams, even when they cannot be realized, have power, perhaps waiting for the right time to be realized.” 

The question shared by several of our club members was how to remain inspired and hopeful every day. What do you do when the world seems against you? When no one seems to listen? You take that single step forward. You find the people who share your beliefs. You do what you feel is right anyway. And if you can’t find a group of those people already? You start your own movement. Change has to start with someone, somewhere. Be that person.

Quotation "Probably the question I am asked more often than any other is: Do you honestly believe there is hope for our world? For the future of our children and grandchildren? And I am able to answer truthfully, yes."

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Our book club meets approximately every 6 weeks. What unites our members is a love for the animals and the natural world around us.

The next selection for the Mountainside Mutts Book Club is: Braiding Sweetgrass: by Robin Wall Kimmerer and we’ll be meeting on 31 January. We’d love to have you join the discussion. You can even join via Zoom. Email: for further information.

In the meantime, have you read “The Book of Hope” already? If so, what were your thoughts on the book?