Reading guide for Bonobo Handshake by Vanessa Woods

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Bonobo Handshake

A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo

by Vanessa Woods

Bonobo Handshake
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2010, 278 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2011, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Do you think that, in general, humans behave more like chimpanzees or bonobos?

  2. In describing her relationship with Baluku, a chimpanzee, Woods writes: "He needed all of me…It was the first time I had to give myself so completely. But I didn't feel trapped or resentful because I never had a moment's rest or a solid night's sleep. Baluku's love was its own reward" (p. 5). Have you ever experienced this kind of love? How did it affect you?

  3. "At no point did [Brian] mention fondling bonobo penises" (p. 60). Yet, this is precisely what Woods finds herself doing to help her fiancé with his research. What would you have done in her position?

  4. When Mimi rejects her baby, Woods explains how "when apes are taken from their mothers at a young age and don't grow up around other apes, they usually reject their own newborns" (p. 122). Have you ever witnessed a parallel human behavior?

  5. "The biggest threat to apes isn't disease, it's the bushmeat trade" (p. 124). Considering our own culture's consumption of meat, is it fair to ask starving populations to forego ape meat because the animals are endangered species? How would you try to resolve this conundrum?

  6. Based on the stories Woods relates, do you think that bonobos experience love in the same way that humans do? If not, how is it different?

  7. After Claudine brings back "the latest issue of Marie Claire" (p. 194), the Mamas flock to Vanessa for her superior knowledge of celebrity gossip. What does this incident say about the way women socialize?

  8. Would humanity be better off if it were organized into matriarchal societies? Why or why not?

  9. Towards the end of the book, Woods writes, "So since I will never say this to his face, let me say it once, here, to thousands of strangers. We may not be perfect, but we are perfect for each other" (p. 233). Why is it sometimes easier to share intimate sentiments with strangers than with the one(s) closest to you?

  10. "There are plenty of scientists and conservationists who think every ape in a sanctuary should be shot in the head. They argue the cost of running the sanctuaries should fund national parks and protect thousands of apes instead of a few dozen." (p. 124). Which side of the argument do you agree with and why?

  11. After reading Bonobo Handshake, would you be less inclined to buy a new computer, cell phone, or diamond jewelry?

  12. The match made between the orphaned bonobos and the people of the Pô seems ideal. Can you think of any similar mutually beneficial relationships that might be forged between economics and nature?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Gotham Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.