Lab Girl: A Story Of Trees, Science, And Love by Hope JahrenLab Girl: A Story Of Trees, Science, And Love by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl: A Story Of Trees, Science, And Love

byHope Jahren

Paperback | February 28, 2017

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An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a long-time collaboration, in work and in life; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see and think about the natural world.
Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she's studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book might have been a revelatory treatise on plant life. Lab Girl is that, but it is also so much more. Because in it, Jahren also shares with us her inspiring life story, in prose that takes your breath away.
Lab Girl is a book about work, about love, and about the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren's remarkable stories: about the things she's discovered in her lab, as well as how she got there; about her childhood--hours of unfettered play in her father's laboratory; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work "with both the heart and the hands"; about a brilliant and wounded man named Bill, who became her loyal colleague and best friend; about their adventurous, sometimes rogue research trips, which take them from the Midwest all across the United States and over the Atlantic, from the ever-light skies of the North Pole to tropical Hawaii; and about her constant striving to do and be the best she could, never allowing personal or professional obstacles to cloud her dedication to her work.
     Jahren's insights on nature enliven every page of this book. Lab Girl allows us to see with clear eyes the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal, and also the power within ourselves to face--with bravery and conviction--life's ultimate challenge: discovering who you are.
HOPE JAHREN is an award-winning scientist who has been pursuing independent research in paleobiology since 1996, when she completed her PhD at UC Berkeley and began teaching and researching first at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then at Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards and is one of fou...
Title:Lab Girl: A Story Of Trees, Science, And LoveFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:304 pages, 7.99 × 5.17 × 0.72 inShipping dimensions:7.99 × 5.17 × 0.72 inPublished:February 28, 2017Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345809874

ISBN - 13:9780345809872


Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Fave Book of 2019 Lab Girl by Hope Jahren felt like a book personally made for me. This novel following Hope Jahren's life and trials of becoming a geobiologist is a serious gem for my collection. Every sentence of this novel felt like it was crafted for me - it a smart, female scientist rocking out in her field. She wins awards, she builds laboratories and she is a genius in her field. How can I not love this book?! On top of it all, it's a non-fiction novel which is not my normal read, yet I was SO OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK. All caps. Yes, I was that obsessed. So, down to the nitty gritty: This biography is not all sunshine and roses. Along the way, Hope deals with all sorts of trials and craziness. We follow her as a lab tech in a hospital, as a scientist trying to get grants, and as a friend to Bill and mother. Mixed in with her personal story is loads of facts about trees and nature. There are entire chapters devoted to the complexity of how trees work and live, which was one of the coolest parts of the books for me. I wish Hope had taught my high school biology classes, because for once I actually felt like I understood what trees go through. Everything was relatable, and there were lots of metaphors. The best part of this whole book was the comedy. Our author clearly has a fantastic sense of humor, which involves a LOT of sarcasm. I am incredibly sarcastic so I loved every second of every snarky comment. I felt so connected to Hope, because I could relate. That's where I think this book really shines! Very few books connect with me on a such a personal level, so I loved every second of reading this book. I didn't want to put it down and I wanted to read it again (which is very rare for me, by the way). I believe there is something in this book for everyone: science, sarcasm, an incredible friendship between Hope and Bill, the trials and errors of being a mother, and mental health.
Date published: 2019-05-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh. For me this book was "fine," I neither loved or hated it, I sort of just tolerated it - there were no big ideas or themes that kept me thinking but there was nothing overtly poorly done. Jahren is a solid writer with a great editor and not a word is out of place, the topic just never grabbed me.
Date published: 2018-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I thought this was a great book, with an insight into a world that I would never have otherwise seen. She writes hilariously, and I can completely imagine the relationship she has with her co-worker, Bill. Very interesting, but I'm also fascinated by trees.
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful This book is both memoir and a contemplative look at nature. Hope is a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii; her area of specialty is soils and trees and the inter-connectedness of all nature. There were times that her writings were so overwhelming that I was brought to tears. Trees care about each other and communicate with each other. A wonderful read!!
Date published: 2018-03-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from so boring did not enjoy this book at all. it was so boring and just felt like the author was bragging about her life and her "struggles"
Date published: 2017-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic, a memoir that reads like a novel, it's so engaging The life story of a scientist (botanist and geochemist) filled with anecdotes, bizarre adventures, doubts and frustrations and beauty. The wonderful red thread through it all is Jahren's work partnership with Bill, the odd sidekick with whom she shares a love for nature, an unbreakable dedication to research and a great sense of deadbeat humour.
Date published: 2017-08-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring! I tried hard to get through this and couldn't even get past chapter 4.
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A strange story It was interesting, but there were some very strange stories included in this book. The oddness of the stories I feel were never really addressed or acknowledged as being strange, which contributed more to my confusion! It is an interesting and somewhat accurate of academia. Probably a book that is more interesting to those who have worked in a lab before.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very original read! I read about this on Jezebel, and was subsequently gifted a copy around Xmas. This is a great read. It includes a compelling narrative about the writer's life in science, and interesting details and information pertaining to her scientific work. I particularly enjoyed the feminist perspective from a woman of science. I learned a lot about a topic that is unfamiliar to me, and felt inspired by the writer's ultimately uplifting message.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lackluster 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 or her friendship with Bill. Perhaps if she'd added more detail of her professional life this would have been more interesting? 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.
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Simply adored! Lab Girl is a seriously easy book to read because it's coming straight from Hope Jahren's mind—she seems so easy to talk to, so naturally, she writes as if she's speaking straight to someone. It turned out very lovely, and teaches us to appreciate nature and the amazing people around you, all of these ideas being proved by science. She explains her discoveries, and the many accomplishments that she has gained, without making them sound too big of a deal. (THEY ARE ASTONISHING THOUGH.) The astonishing things for her, are plants.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Great read for a fellow lab girl :).
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh I read this for book club. While half of the group enjoyed it, the other half did not. I am in the latter half. I just could not get myself involved in this book. While I agree it was well written, I just did not find it engaging at all. (The facts about trees and nature were interesting though). The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking "what is your point?" Perhaps it was the cynic in me. I will say that those who listened to it on audiobook found it to be much better than if it was being read.
Date published: 2016-11-11

Editorial Reviews

WINNER of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Awards for AutobiographyFinalist for the 2017 American Bookseller Association’s Indies Choice Book Awards: Book of the Year/Adult Debut AwardFinalist for the 2017 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing AwardFinalist for the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers®Award for Non-FictionLonglisted for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLERNATIONAL BESTSELLER“Lab Girl made me look at trees differently. It compelled me to ponder the astonishing grace and gumption of a seed. Perhaps most importantly, it introduced me to a deeply inspiring woman—a scientist so passionate about her work I felt myself vividly with her on every page. This is a smart, enthralling, and winning debut.” —Cheryl Strayed “Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl burns with her love of science, teaching us the way great teachers can. This is a powerful book that is as original as it is deeply felt.” —Adrian Nicole LeBlanc “Lab Girl surprised, delighted, and moved me. I was drawn in from the start by the clarity and beauty of Jahren’s prose, whether she was examining the inner world of a seed, the ecosystem around the trunk of a tree, or recounting her own inspiring journey. With Lab Girl, Jahren joins those talented scientists who are able to reveal to us the miracle of this world in which we live.” —Abraham Verghese “Some people are great writers, while other people live lives of adventure and importance. Almost no one does both. Hope Jahren does both. She makes me wish I’d been a scientist.” —Ann Patchett“Vladimir Nabokov once observed that ‘a writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.’ The geobiologist Hope Jahren possesses both in spades. Her engrossing new memoir, Lab Girl, is at once a thrilling account of her discovery of her vocation and a gifted teacher’s road map to the secret lives of plants—a book that, at its best, does for botany what Oliver Sacks’s essays did for neurology, what Stephen Jay Gould’s writings did for paleontology.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times “[Lab Girl is a] mesmerizing and unconventional memoir. . . . Jahren . . . has a knack for inviting the reader to feel the joy in scientific—and personal—discovery, rather than trying to make the reader feel the joy she thinks they should.” —Paul Taunton, National Post   “Botany, like cybersecurity, ocean acidification or stamp collecting, can elicit genuine interest from maybe six percent of the reading public. In this memoir . . . Hope Jahren takes a valiant stab at punching up that percentage, misses, and lands on something far better. Her short, standalone chapters on the inner lives of plants are fascinating, even intoxicating. But the story of her life, spanning her childhood in an emotionally chilly Scandinavian-American family, her science education, her struggles with bipolar disorder, and eventual life as ‘mangy stray’ (woman) in academia, succeeds as a non-fiction novel. Lab Girl has madcap adventures . . . vivid scenes . . . and a profound, bittersweet love story at its core. The result is a hybrid weirder and more beautiful than the prehistoric plants she studies—part road movie, part academic paper, part polemic extolling public funding for science. . . . [H]aunting and moving . . . the human story [in Lab Girl] is so good.” —Maclean’s“The author’s father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her play in the laboratory, and her mother was a student of English literature who nurtured her love of reading. Both of these early influences engrossingly combine in this adroit story of a dedication to science. . . . The author draws many parallels between her subjects and herself. This is her story, after all, and we are engaged beyond expectation as she relates her struggle in building and running laboratory after laboratory at the universities that have employed her. . . . Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.” —Kirkus Reviews(starred review)   “A geobiologist with a literary bent makes her science both accessible and lyrical.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)   “[A]n exceptionally compelling and enlightening memoir. Gracefully meshing her struggles as a woman scientist with the marvels of plants, she aligns the risks a sprouting seed takes in an inhospitable world with her entry into the sexist realm of science, and symbiotic plant-pollinator relationships with her crucial collaboration with Bill, a heroically steadfast and self-sacrificing partner in mischief, hard work, and discovery. . . . [S]he matches her findings about how plants thrive and maintain life on Earth with grave concern over our reckless destruction of forests. A botanical variation on Helen Macdonald’s best-selling H Is for Hawk, Jahren’s forthright, beautifully expressed, and galvanizing chronicle deserves the widest possible readership.” —Booklist  “[An] engrossing story. . . . Lab Girl instills the reader with an appreciation for botany as well as for scientific discovery. . . . Jahren’s rich language encourages readers to give taken-for-granted greenery a second look. . . . She candidly discusses the gritty details of it all, and it is this honest behind-the-scenes depiction of what a scientific life is actually like that makes her book stand out.” —The Guardian   “Large numbers amaze; numbers of large numbers amaze even more. Cognitive neuroscience can explain why (numbers of a certain opulence can be grasped only conceptually, and thus stupefy) but it takes a passionate geobiologist with the soul of a poet to make us really swoon in the face of computational amplitude. Science is in the end a love affair with numbers, and when it comes to botany, the ‘numbers are staggering,’ Hope Jahren writes in [Lab Girl,] her spirited account of how she became an eminent research scientist. . . . Jahren’s literary bent renders dense material digestible, and lyrical, in fables that parallel personal history. . . . [Lab Girl is] a gratifying and often moving chronicle of the scientist’s life. She also earns her license to issue warnings we would do well to heed.” —The New York Times Book Review   “Hope Jahren’s remarkable memoir is both personal odyssey and the story of her profound affinity with the natural world. Leaves, soil and seeds. Not normally words that make your pulse race. But they do light a fire in the mind and heart of Hope Jahren. In her hands, you will never feel the same way about these words again. Leaves become elegant machines, soil is the interface between the living and the dead, and seeds, well, they are transformed into the most patient and hopeful of all life forms. Jahren has such a passion for the natural world that it’s hard to imagine her in any role other than her current one; a professor of geobiology at the University of Hawaiʻi. Lab Girl is her engaging new memoir. . . . [A] fascinating journey. . . . Lab Girl is immediately engrossing and extremely readable. . . . Academic research is rich with science stories and tales of human endeavour. And it’s refreshing that Jahren talks to us about both. . . . Jahren is making herself accessible as a role model for younger generations of female scientists too. . . . In [Lab Girl] you’ll find a renewed interest in the natural world and notice things that have been hidden in plain sight. Jahren marvels at the perfectly clean break of a leaf stem and the first leaves of a new plant—‘The first real leaf is a new idea’—and you will find yourself marvelling too.” —Lucie Green, The Guardian   “[Lab Girl] is delightfully, wickedly funny. I was constantly surprised by the literary tricks this first-time memoirist manages to pull off. . . . With Lab Girl, Jahren has taken the form of the memoir and done something remarkable with it. She’s made the experience of reading the book mimic her own lived experience in a way that few writers are capable of. She swerves from observations about plant life . . . to a report from the interior of her tortured brain . . . to adventures on the road with Bill . . . and somehow, it all works, because the structure and the language follow the story. . . . [Jahren’s] harrowing account of childbirth is rendered in vivid and terrifying Technicolor because it was vivid and terrifying. Descriptions of her research projects are precise and detailed and engrossing because that’s what research is like. . . . It’s a powerful and disarming way to tell a story, and I admire the craft behind it. Mostly, though, I love this book for its honesty, its hilarity and its brilliant sharp edges. Jahren has some serious literary chops to go along with all that science she gets up to. I can’t wait to see what comes next.” —Amy Stewart, The Washington Post “[Refreshing]. . . . At times funny and at other points poignant. . . . This title should be required reading for all budding scientists, especially young women. However, being a scientist is not essential in order to savor Jahren’s stories and reflections on living as well as fossil plant life.” —Library Journal  “[An] engrossing story of [Jahren’s] love of science and of the adventures she has while pursuing her hunches and hypotheses. . . . Lab Girl instills the reader with an appreciation for botany as well as for scientific discovery. . . . [Jahren] intersperses her memoir with brief, seductive chapters about the remarkable abilities and life cycle of plants. . . . Jahren’s rich language encourages readers to give taken-for-granted greenery a second look. . . . She candidly discusses the gritty details of it all, and it is this honest behind-the-scenes depiction of what a scientific life is actually like that makes her book stand out.” —The Guardian