Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which shes studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant lifebut it is also so much more. Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahrens stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classrooms labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done with both the heart and the hands; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home....
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Lab Girl Reviews
A strange book, for sure. There's mention of Hope's schooling, her family, her friendship with Bill over 20+ years, her husband, her son, some interesting details of plants and trees, her labs.....but nothing about her work, research, lectures, scientific presentations, etc. Although this is a memoir of her working life, there's very little of her work included. For example, we're told in detail of a multi-day car trip to a conference....but not a word about the talk she gave at the conference o ...more
My god am I a sucker for an emotionally resonant and movingly written literary memoir.
This is less a review than it is a caveat: My experience of “reading” the book was really more of a two star affair— however, I listened to it, and feel pretty confident that I would have enjoyed it more in the written word. The author reads the book herself, and during the parts that are supposed to be sad, she's reading in one of those choked-up/half-crying voices which is beyond annoying. But, what with lady scientist solidarity and such, I'm rounding up.
I finished this memoir a few days ago and in trying to get my thoughts together for a review, I read what my GR friends said about the book, and I realized it's all been said and said so much better and eloquently than I could.
So I'll just say I loved it. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author , and she does an excellent job. I loved hearing about her life and passion as a scientist, her illness (bipolar), her quirky friend Bill, her marriage, motherhood, and yes, I even loved the scien ...more
I found this in an Independent Book store one day, not by actually seeing the book, there was a note on a card attached to an empty shelf.
It said, “Lab Girl by Hope Jahren - THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN A LONG WHILE – Buy it!”
So I asked where it was and the gal behind the stacks ran off, returned, and placed it in my hand, “You'll love it I promise.” Her enthusiasm caused me to not hesitate and pay full retail on the spot.
This is not just a Memoir as far as memoirs go. It is well written with ...more
Full disclosure: I knew Hope in high school, lost touch after graduation and reconnected 20+ years later (see? it's possible for good to come of Facebook!), so I'm not going to even pretend to be objective.
But if were to pretend, I might point out that this book is about trees and science and love and sheer bloodymindedness and may or may not have made me cry.
A high 4 stars. I can't possibly describe what Lab Girl is about or review it with any linearity, because this is a tangled web of strands of memoir, natural history, philosophical musings and random thoughts. Here are my own thoughts in no particular order:
-This is an ode to trees and plants.
-This is a love letter to friendship generally and to Jahren's friend and lab partner Bill in particular.
-This is a reflection on the potency of motherhood.
-This is a peek into the lives of quirky people tr ...more
3.5 When I first started reading this I was more interested in the chapters, which alternated with her personal story, on the trees and plants. That changed though as I read on. Loved her story too, her beginning passion for the sciences, her childhood and going with her dad to his lab, her first jobs which I found eye opening, and her wonderful long term friendship with Bill. He would become her lab partner, the person she bounced ideas off of and shared triumphs and disappointments with. The t ...more