Hardcover, 290 pages
Alfred A. Knopf
★★★★★ – Excellent book. A favourite. Would read annually.
My #1 pick for books published in 2016, Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl is the charming memoir of a true woman of science. If you’re looking for a pleasant work of nonfiction, written by a brilliant female author, look no further. Jahren’s detailed and beautifully contemplative prose describes her life, beginning with her family upbringing in a small town in Minnesota. She cleverly retells her journey through academia, with a voice of educated, comfortable sarcasm and wit. Chapters are separated with short, scientific anecdotes about trees and plants; her writing shifting into a beautifully contemplative, poetic tone. She portrays herself with an incredible passion for science; expressing a somewhat manic obsession that so often drives lifelong researchers.
The book was not only a cozy memoir, but also an informative survey of basic plant sciences. Jahren’s descriptions of her plant studies tickled my own passing interests in botany and soil sciences. Most importantly is her underlying message for readers; namely that anyone can pursue science with the right outlook. To put it more simply, Jahren writes that science isn’t just fancy lab coats, and regimented experiments, it’s asking questions with the desire to learn. She also greatly stresses the perseverance of women in STEM fields. This book is a great appeal for women studying sciences, as well just pursuing the fields that they find themselves most passionate about.
I give Lab Girl a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars. Hope Jahren has crafted an inspiring, and wonderfully well written memoir. She provides us with not only a glimpse into the world of academic research, but allows us a peek into the feelings of the people who live in that world.