Lab Girl

Lab Girl

Book - 2016
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Jan 14, 2019

Decent read.

IndyPL_AnikaW Dec 04, 2018

Memoirs by female scientists can seem few-and-far-between.

Hope Jahren's account of her life is both an homage to her prodigious scientific output and interests as well as her intriguing life story, beginning in rural Minnesota with Scandinavian-American parents and ending with her tenure at the University of Hawaii.

Girls interested in STEM careers, tree-huggers/scientists/gardeners, and those who just enjoy good memoirs will find much to like in this volume that *begs* to be read and discussed by groups.

Oct 09, 2018

More life lessons than science lessons.

Jul 29, 2018

Hope Jahren's book is a story of a still developing scientist driven by curiosity, creativity, and perseverance. She and her collaborators get results to questions about how plants grow and survive in the wild by asking critical questions, devising experiments, scrounging equipment to do those studies, and working without cease to get the data to analyze. Just add funding.
Her writing is personal and quirky and expands far beyond the unemotional prose of scientific journals. I enjoyed the book all the way through.

phill167 May 14, 2018


Book Club meeting will be held Wednesday, June 13 at 1:30 p.m. at Angus Glen Library

Apr 30, 2018

This is a beautifully crafted, memoir of a passionately curious geo-biologist and a warm and funny tribute to her fellow researcher-soul-mate. Interspersed with mini-essays about the nature of soil, earthworms and tenacity of plants and fungi; this book is a reverent look at our diminishing natural world. The anecdotes on navigating the complex obstacle course of grant-writing, budgeting and academic egos is hilarious. I absolutely loved this book and how it added to my appreciation of a dedicated scientific life.

Dec 30, 2017

I strongly recommend that all STEM girls read this fabulous book! My daughter is a budding scientist with one more year of undergraduate studies. She plans on taking her education all the way and fulfilling her dream of marine research. This books enlightens the reader regarding the trials and tribulations of lab/research science, particularly from the female perspective, while not discouraging you. If you or those you love are considering pursuing a passion, please read this book. You'll learn that expressing your passion can lead to a wonderfully fulfilling life.

Nov 05, 2017

Interesting book but it took a long time to really get moving. Once the author started talking about the research on trees i enjoyed more. It was more of a personal journal of becoming a scientist and the struggle of having enough money to keep going. And her personal connection to her lab researcher Ben, who is a bit of a misfit.
Can't say as I'd recommend.

Jul 05, 2017

Yes, you really want to read this one. It's fascinating to slowly learn more and more about this very interesting scientist's life as you learn a LOT about trees and plants. It's quite interesting to read how differently a life can be lived, and yet be full and satisfying. Fans of "H is for Hawk" will like this one, and I also suggest "The Sound of A Wild Snail Eating" by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. I really enjoy learning so much about a subject as I read!

Jun 06, 2017

There are so many reasons to love this memoir. Jahren breaks down the science with metaphors that are both meaningful and understandable. She writes beautifully of her friendship with a student turned employee and later partner in scientific exploration. There is a perfect balance between personal stories and science, never shying away from the difficult or messy parts of life. Clearly a genius of this generation, and inspiration for many.

Apr 15, 2017

In Lab Girl, Hope Jahren created an enjoyable and humorous combination of memoir and science with a dash of literature. It really worked for me.

I found it intriguing how she alternated between the chapters on plants and those on her life stories, intertwining them in a way that showed how plants and humans can, at times, react in a similar manner to similar stimuli.

I loved the visit to Monkey Jungle where she sees the monkeys behaviour in terms of students in the lab. It is hilarious without being unkind or cruel.

Finally, I really appreciate that she wrote about serious science in an easily approachable manner. This is the type of science writing that can have wide appeal without a ‘dumbing down’ of the subject. I think she and Bill must be an incredible teaching team!

Apr 09, 2017

Like many other readers, I wasn't sure if this book would really grab me, but I quickly got sucked in and couldn't put it down! Hope Jahren can make even a non-science-obsessed person want a lab of his or her own, and believe that, armed with nothing more than questions, you will make amazing discoveries in it.

SCL_Heather Apr 04, 2017

I just don't think it's fair that such a gifted scientist should also be such a beautiful writer. this is not the type of book I am normally drawn to but after reading so many great reviews I had to give it a try and I really liked it. This book is many things: a beautiful story of a friendship between two eccentric people, a love letter to science in general and plant life in particular, a poem, a memoir.

Cynthia_N Mar 17, 2017

Enjoyable read! I loved seeing the friendship between Jahren and Bill endure through the years and the plant side was very interesting. Worth the time.

Feb 04, 2017

Utterly fascinating book - plants, botany, labs, relationships, families. Even for a non-science person like me. And considering the recent war on science from the current regime, oh so timely. Piss off climate naysayers and plant a tree.

Jan 19, 2017

After reading several professional reviews, I put "Lab Girl" on hold, even though there were more than 100 ahead of me. It was more than worth the wait. I hadn't thought of the comparison to "H is for Hawk" until several readers mentioned it, but the two books do have much in common. Mainly both writers are passionate lovers of nature, in different forms, and go their own ways regardless of what others think. Jahren is, I think, in the end more open about herself. Coming from a Scandinavian family myself, I understand how a lack of conversation and openness can, for some people, lead to a lack of self confidence. Yet Jahren's brilliance pushes her into her father's science lab and encourages her to become a scientist like he is. She is also a stupendous writer. She's very open about her friendship with Bill, whom she takes in when she sees his brilliance in spite of his homelessness and lack of grace. This friendship has nothing to do with her marriage, and her husband is smart enough to not be threatened by it. I love the structure of the book, with its chapters about her personal life and the life of trees/grasses/mosses. I will never see green quite the same way again. Nor will I see bipolar in quite the same way again.

Jan 10, 2017

Very interesting about plant life and the struggles of a research woman scientist. The book got better as it progressed. I would read this again and again. The love, commitments and friendships that Hope nurtured were a treat.

Dec 30, 2016

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 or how it was accepted by her peers.
I enjoyed the short chapters on plants and trees. I found these very interesting and wish there had been more on this.
I wasn't as interested in her personal life. Hope comes across as rather whiny and woeful at times. However, the stories of her son and husband are touching. Her love for them comes through the pages.
All in all, an okay read but not very engaging most of the time.

rb1443a Dec 30, 2016

A thoroughly engrossing and beautifully written story that left me with a sense of wonder at the natural world and a desire to plant every abandoned acorn I come across.

Dec 14, 2016

This wonderful memoir ranks with the writings of E. O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, Oliver Sacks, and Richard Feynman. It's very well written and a lot of fun. If you like it, I also recommend Wesley the Owl, by Stacey O'Brien; and H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald.

patcumming Dec 02, 2016

Touching, funny and utterly engaging. Hope Jahren is not only a brilliant scientist, she is an exceptional writer.

Nov 17, 2016

Lab Girl began its life as a text book, but Jahren found herself unable to separate what she had learned from how she learned it. So it became a memoir, and Jahren’s chapters alternate between describing her life and work, and waxing poetic about trees, plants, and nature more generally. When she reveals, late in the book, that she also writes poetry, it comes as no surprise.
Full review:

Oct 29, 2016

I knew nothing about this book ahead of time, and I loved it! It is written by a gifted scientist (botanist) who also writes beautifully. The book includes chapters about her life story, as well as poetic chapters about trees and plants of all kinds. She is rather quirky--she was raised in a Scandinavian family without much emotional support, but she is devoted to science. Her colleague Bill is also quirky, and I love the stories about him!
There are all sorts of wonderful observations about trees and the "decisions" they make as they grow. Seeds are a miracle; plants are miracles.
If you have doubt about whether climate change is real and dangerous to the world as we know it, please read this book. What humans have done to plants in this world is heart-breaking. She asks everyone who reads her book to plant a tree.
This is a terrific book--enjoy!

Oct 25, 2016

More eccentric than extraordinary.
The author could be the only living being who is both an exceptional scientist and exceptional writer. Overall well structured, her relationship with Bill throughout the book, her career, plants life is remarkable!

SquamishLibraryStaff Sep 25, 2016

Lab Girl wraps around you like a deeply felt conversation, leaving you to reflect on the layers that make up people's lives and the world. Hope Jahren's memoir is clear and grounded, and her honesty, humour, and perspective make reading the book intimate, like opening a journal about her life. It is a book to be felt and experienced, of shared stories of science, loneliness, joy, family, mental health, work, misadventures, struggles, and friendship. Integrally woven through all this is the narrative of the grit, complexity, and wonder of science and the universe, from an intricate forest to the smallest seed.

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