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
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
"For trees that live in the snow, winter is a journey. Plants do not travel through space as we do; as a rule they do not move from place to place. Instead they travel through time, enduring one event after the other, and in this sense, winter is a particularly long trip. Trees follow the standard advice given for any extended travel within a rustic setting: pack carefully."
I came away, after reading Lab Girl, awed and delighted. How amazing to be able to walk along side the mind of a scientist, ...more
What a shame this utterly amazing book has such a lame title. My advice is to forget the title and read the book.
Jahren, a three-time Fulbright winner, has written a reader-friendly, relationship-centered sequence of stories about her experience as a paleobotany researcher. There is much to learn and Jahren doesn't shrink from explaining it. However, the terms and structure are highly accessible. The book is one of those rare fusions of science and humanity that many readers so often wish for b ...more
Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.While it may be a beautiful life in many ways, it has not been an easy one. Anne Hope Jahren is a geobiologist currently working at the University of Oslo. This represents a bit of homecoming, as her ancestors emigrated from Norway to Minnesota. Her father was a science teacher at a community college. She writes about having the ...more
“Because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what the hell I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along.” This memoir puts so many things together that it shouldn’t work, yet somehow – delightfully – does. With witty anecdotes and recreated dialogue, Jahren tells about her Minnesota upbringing, her long years in education, her ultimate specialization in geobiology/botany, crossing the country to take up academic posts in Atlanta, Baltimore and Hawaii, her long-ti ...more
★★★★★ 5 Stars!!
I think something really special happens when a scientist has the ability to use the written word to successfully communicate and explain to the rest of us what they do.
It's like in Baseball when the pitcher also happens to be good at batting. It's not in their job description, we don't expect them to, but when it happens is extremely exhilarating! I don't know if Hope Jahren likes baseball, but I found her writing utterly exquisite.
As the daughter of a father who was a p ...more
I am not a scientist, but I loved this memoir about science.
Hope Jahren is a botanist who is passionate about her field. Lab Girl is a beautifully written book about her life — her childhood in Minnesota with taciturn parents; how she developed a love of trees and plants; her early experiences in laboratory work; the ongoing struggle to get research funding; her battle with anxiety and depression; the longtime friendship with her lab partner, Bill; and how she eventually met her spouse and becam ...more