Author: Hope Jahren
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This book succeeds as both an approachable primer on some cool science and as a relatable, moving memoir.
“Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but 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 Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s 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.” (Source)
This book was like nothing else I’ve ever read and it was so wonderful. It matches my personal experience more than any other book I’ve read and I loved the connection I felt with the author. However, it was also new and different. I loved learning more about plants, especially with the delightful narrative structure, implicitly comparing phases of the author’s life to phases in a plant’s life by juxtaposing chapters about each. I also enjoyed the author’s thoughtfulness, humor, and passion for her work. It was fun to be a part of that.
Something else that was very different from my experiences was the discrimination the author faced as a woman in science. She also described a feeling I’ve never had of giving up the chance at a normal relationship by choosing to be a woman in science. I feel I owe the author a huge thank you for that. Because of women like her, who broke old stereotypes by becoming leaders of scientific research, I don’t have to face the same struggles that she did today. If you’re interested in learning about women in science; getting the most realistic perspective on science that I’ve read; or learning some amazing fun facts about plants, you should definitely pick this up. It was a delightful read in every way.
P.S. – If you liked learning about what doing science is like, the author’s lab has a twitter feed where you can get a sneak peek at what they do and how much caffeine they consume.