My most valuable book
My most valued book is not a first edition Hemingway, nor a collection of my fore-mother Katherine Brush’s pulp fiction, but a personally dedicated, signed copy of Jane Goodall’s “Reason for Hope.” Jane Goodall has been my hero since I first learned of her in middle school, now for more important reasons, but always for her relationship with and support of the great apes. To have her book in my collection, a sharing of her life and mind, that was held in her hand, the same hand that held those of her beloved chimpanzees, is precious to me.
Jane Goodall is best known for her groundbreaking fieldwork in Gombe, Africa. She founded the Gombe Stream Research Center in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and the Jane Goodall Institute for Wild Life Research, Education, and Conservation. The institute is a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. Their work builds on Dr. Goodall’s scientific work and her humanitarian vision. Specifically, to:
Improve global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, public education and advocacy
Contribute to the preservation of great apes and their habitats by combining conservation with education and promotion of sustainable livelihoods in local communities
Create a worldwide network of young people who have learned to care deeply for their human community, for all animals and for the environment, and who will take responsible action to care for them
The institute is largely responsible for the current hit Disney Nature film, “Chimpanzee.” (An excellent documentary, storylike film, caught with extreme luck and dedication by Blacklight Films and directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield.) Some proceeds from the film’s first week of viewing will go back to the Jane Goodall Institute to help protect great apes in the wild. Begun in 1977, Gombe is today the world’s best-known research program and represents the world’s longest continuous wildlife study. JGI’s Gombe Stream Research Center is a hub of scientific inquiry for researchers from all over the world.
“Reason for Hope” is Goodall’s memoir. She covers her life from childhood, to young researcher, to her adult hardships and heartbreaks, to her hopes for the future. She relates what influenced her ideals and views, what her favorite books were as a child (“The Jungle Book” and Edgar Rice Burroughs “Tarzan” series), and her first moments on the beach in Gombe in 1960. Goodall wrote of her visit to Auschwitz and her reaction to the tragedies of 9/11. What the book is though, is not a simple memoir of events, but of the spiritual effect events have had on Jane, her family, her place in the world, and our place in the world. It is a passionately felt, inspiring story, told in Jane’s straightforward and compassionate voice. It is a treasure.
The inscription on the title page reads, “For Heather, Hear your heart, Jane Goodall.” It is a reminder to me to always try to do that, just as the book itself is. This my most valued book. What’s yours?
“Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey” by Jane Goodall, Warner Books, 304 pages, $14.95, ISBN: 0446676136. To learn more about Jane Goodall, the institute, “Reason for Hope,” or the movie “Chimpanzee,” see www.janegoodall.org.