Jane Goodall on surviving trying times

 Jane Goodall and book cover for "The Book of Hope."
(Celadon Books / Andrew Zuckerman)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

Jane Goodall, the renowned naturalist who revolutionized views of animal behavior with her 60-year study of chimps, has turned her attention to a unique aspect of human nature: hope.

Goodall, author of “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times,” is this month’s book club guest. She’ll be in virtual conversation Feb. 25 with Times reporter Dorany Pineda about her new book, her life’s work, and the current “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall” exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.


“Young people especially have been angry, depressed, or just apathetic because, they’ve told me, we have compromised their future and they feel there is nothing we can do about it,” the anthropologist and U.N messenger for peace says. “But while it is true that we have not just comprised but stolen their future as we have relentlessly plundered the finite resources of our planet with no concern for future generations, I do not believe it is too late to do something to put things right.”

The 6 p.m. PST book talk is free. Extras for book club readers: A limited number of autographed books are available for this event, and you also can purchase discounted tickets for the museum experience organized by the National Geographic Society and the Jane Goodall Institute. Visit “Becoming Jane” on your own before or after book club night.

Get tickets on Eventbrite. Then tell us: What would you like to ask Jane Goodall? What previous Goodall books have you read? Send questions and comments in advance of the conversation to

Community Fund

Since the start of the pandemic, The Times has made many of the newsroom’s live journalism events free and virtual to make it easy for our readers to participate from home. In 2021 alone, our book club lineup included President Obama, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Billie Jean King, Charles Yu, Rodrigo García, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ann Patchett.

Now we are asking for your help to keep going — and growing. The new Los Angeles Times Community Fund supports the newspaper’s signature literacy and literary programs, connecting readers with authors at community forums.

The Times has partnered with the California Community Foundation to sustain the book club and annual book prizes. That means your contributions to the fund are both vital and tax deductible. Contributors will be recognized at events and online. Learn more here.

Los Angeles Times Community Fund logo
(Parisa Hajizadeh-Amini/ Los Angeles Times )

Black history and more

James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won Books, joined our November event with Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of “The 1619 Project,” and Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida at the California African American Museum. (Watch highlights here.)

This week, Fugate shared his current reading list and the stories he enjoys over and over.

What books are you recommending for Black History Month?
“Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality,” by Tomiko Brown-Nagin. “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.,” edited by James M. Washington. “México’s Nobodies: The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women,” by B. Christine Arce.

Any suggestions for young readers?
I would say anything but yet another bio of King, Parks, Jackie Robinson, etc., which they all learn in school. Make them read something good, by any author of any race.

What’s hot at Eso Won right now?
The 1619 Project” is still doing very well. Patrisse Cullors’ “An Abolitionist’s Handbook.” “Angela Davis: An Autobiography” (The Times’ review really helped).

What book or books do you most enjoy rereading?
“Dune” by Frank Herbert is great. “Mama Day” by Gloria Naylor gave me the courage to leave Barnes & Noble and run Eso Won full time. “The Chaneysville Incident” by David Bradley is a profound work. I’m close to rereading “Home” by Toni Morrison, short and straight ahead, her masterpiece.

A woman smiles as she sits at a table behind stacks of books.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones signs books before taking the stage.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

January book club

Stephanie Land joined education reporter Paloma Esquivel on Jan. 25 to discuss her memoir, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive”; the Netflix series it spawned; and the fourth-grade teacher who inspired her to become a writer.


Land also talked about her life as a single mother and housecleaner struggling with poverty and what she called a “broken system” of government assistance. “I saw that as an opportunity to speak out and be an advocate,” she said.

ICYMI: You can watch the entire discussion and learn more about Land’s story here.

And here’s a follow-up story for those watching the Netflix series: How Margaret Qualley put her mom to work with her in “Maid.”

Author photo and book cover for Stephanie Land and"Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive."
(Legacy Lit / Hachette Books)

Keep reading

What she remembers most: Tara Westover, author of the mega-bestseller “Educated,” writes in the New York Times about her own struggles with poverty. She says she nearly dropped out of college in her sophomore year until a pastor pointed her to a federally funded Pell Grant. Days later, she says, a check arrived for $4,000. “It allowed me to experience for the first time what I now know to be the most powerful advantage of money, which is the ability to think of things besides money.”

Banned books: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen writes about the book that most disturbed him as a child and recent efforts to ban Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, “Maus,” and other stories from classrooms. “As Ray Bradbury depicted in ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ another book often targeted by book banners, book burning is meant to stop people from thinking, which makes them easier to govern, to control and ultimately to lead into war,” he says. “And once a society acquiesces to burning books, it tends to soon see the need to burn the people who love books.”


More about “Mapping Fiction”: Drawing on the Huntington Library’s archives, this new exhibit explores the construction of made-up worlds through maps and novels. “These world-building projects were a way to have an alternative world to inhabit because they’re an invitation to imagine these fictional worlds, whether they’re fantastic or have claims on reality, as inhabitable places,” says Karla Nielsen, the Huntington’s curator of literary collections. The exhibit includes expressive etchings of James Joyce’s Dublin; J.R.R. Tolkien’s map from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy; Octavia Butler’s visualizations of “Parable of the Talents” and the unpublished “Parable of the Trickster”; and Robert Louis Stevenson’s map of “Treasure Island.”

A woman in a mask stands in a museum.
Curator Karla Nielsen at the entrance to the “Mapping Fiction” exhibition at the Huntington Library in San Marino.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Storytelling for a short month: From world-building African fantasy to a chronicle of China’s Hollywood takeover, here are 10 books to add to your reading list in February.

Game changers: Orange County Register editor Samantha Dunn shares 10 Southern California authors who made an impact this past year.

Bold debut: After writing and illustrating his first book, Dillon Helbig slid his story onto the shelves of the local library. “I’ve been wanting to put a book in the library since I was 5,” he explains. Dillon is 8. And now there’s a waitlist to read it.

Help wanted: Jeri Wingo talks about 22 years of volunteering at the Festival of Books, which returns to the USC campus April 23-24. “I love managing the panel rooms!” she says. “I’ve met some literary superstars and heard interesting stories from authors no matter the genre. One of my favorite festival authors was Carrie Fisher — she treated me like family! In 2005, I ushered her out of the room at the end of her panel. People brought so many ‘Star Wars’ toys for her to autograph, and she wanted to sign them all.” Learn how to volunteer at this year’s festival here.

Among a crowd, a smiling woman in sunglasses has a small boy on her shoulders. They both make the peace sign.
A scene from the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

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