Lab Girl would be an excellent addition to my fiction/nonfiction list of books about trees. Hope Jahren is a scientist who studies trees, plants, seeds, and soil. This book is a reflection on her journey from childhood days playing under father's laboratory tables to leading her own labs and research.
I passed by this book many times before trying it and I am enthralled by Jahren's writing, her keen and poetic observations of the natural world, and her grave, sometimes deadpan and sometimes dramatic narration of the audiobook. Love of science is at the core of Jahren's story, but human relationships also take center stage, particularly when it comes to Jahren's eccentric colleague Bill. They share a devotion to the work and to each other that defines both of their professional lives. Their adventures in science (and the pursuit of science, in the form of funding, equipment, and even livable wages) are delightful and unexpected.
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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.
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.