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Lab Girl

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  30,915 Ratings  ·  4,862 Reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Knopf (first published March 1st 2016)
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Bruce Arthurs Hey, snarky folks, if you click on Ellie XD's profile, you'll see she lives in Dubai. Makes getting English-language books more difficult.

Here's a…more
Hey, snarky folks, if you click on Ellie XD's profile, you'll see she lives in Dubai. Makes getting English-language books more difficult.

Here's a link to a "Living In Dubai" website for expats that might actually help: 8 Best Bookstores In Dubai. Good luck, Ellie.(less)
Hope Jahren I am so glad you asked that! The Junior Library Guild, which is a widely-used collection development service for school and public libraries, has…moreI am so glad you asked that! The Junior Library Guild, which is a widely-used collection development service for school and public libraries, has assessed Lab Girl as appropriate "For Grades 9 & Up" (rating = NH). To read more about the criteria that leads to an NH designation, read here:
http://www.juniorlibraryguild.com/boo...

However, you know your child best. Lab Girl does not contain any depictions of sex, drugs or violence, but it does contain frank discussions of both mental illness and childbirth, as well as a generous amount of profanity. I hope this gives you the information you need, and thank you for writing!(less)

Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, science
Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.
While it may be a beautiful life in many ways, it has not been an easy one. Anne Hope Jahren is a geobiologist currently working at the University of Oslo. This represents a bit of homecoming, as her ancestors emigrated from Norway to Minnesota. Her father was a science teacher at a community college. She writes about having the
...more
Elyse
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love "Lab Girl".....love, love, love, LOVE this book!!!!!!

I have a new crush on 'both' Hope Jahren, ( Geochemist and author of "Lab Girl), and Hope's lab partner, Bill!!!

I'm moved - inspired - speechless - breathless- ( teary-eyed throughout this entire reading experience). I'm grateful -- altered having read Hope Jahren's memoir!!!!

5+++++ stars from me!!!!!!!

Tidbits....( since I couldn't begin to say enough wonderful things found on EVERY PAGE)
.....OMG.... anybody who is 'close' to me ( rea
...more
Debbie "DJ"
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, own, science
So yesterday, I had to take down a smaller tree in my yard. I knew what was happening as I pulled on the root, seeing the main taproot, the one my tree had grown straight down and spent it's lifetime trying to maintain. Then came the side roots, the ones put out for stability, called runners. My tree had suckers, green shoots coming from the runners, still living, still choosing life, even though its main source had died. Taking down that tree of mine was an emotional experience. I'll never look ...more
Esil
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
A high 4 stars. I can't possibly describe what Lab Girl is about or review it with any linearity, because this is a tangled web of strands of memoir, natural history, philosophical musings and random thoughts. Here are my own thoughts in no particular order:

-This is an ode to trees and plants.
-This is a love letter to friendship generally and to Jahren's friend and lab partner Bill in particular.
-This is a reflection on the potency of motherhood.
-This is a peek into the lives of quirky people tr
...more
Lola
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, memoir, science
No 300-page book should have an audiobook lasting 12 hours. There was no need for the author to pause for two seconds after every sentence. That being said, this was a unique, meaningful and informative memoir. I didn’t care much for the scientific facts, but I sure enjoyed the passion in the author’s voice. I considered giving up on it multiple times, due to the length of the audiobook, but I listened to it while browsing the web and choosing my courses for next fall, which wasn’t bad. (Is ther ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 When I first started reading this I was more interested in the chapters, which alternated with her personal story, on the trees and plants. That changed though as I read on. Loved her story too, her beginning passion for the sciences, her childhood and going with her dad to his lab, her first jobs which I found eye opening, and her wonderful long term friendship with Bill. He would become her lab partner, the person she bounced ideas off of and shared triumphs and disappointments with. The t ...more
Diane
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not a scientist, but I loved this memoir about science.

Hope Jahren is a botanist who is passionate about her field. Lab Girl is a beautifully written book about her life — her childhood in Minnesota with taciturn parents; how she developed a love of trees and plants; her early experiences in laboratory work; the ongoing struggle to get research funding; her battle with anxiety and depression; the longtime friendship with her lab partner, Bill; and how she eventually met her spouse and becam
...more
Iris P
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iris P by: Snotchocheez
Lab Girl


★★★★★ 5 Stars!!


I think something really special happens when a scientist has the ability to use the written word to successfully communicate and explain to the rest of us what they do.

It's like in Baseball when the pitcher also happens to be good at batting. It's not in their job description, we don't expect them to, but when it happens is extremely exhilarating! I don't know if Hope Jahren likes baseball, but I found her writing utterly exquisite.

As the daughter of a father who was a p
...more
DeB MaRtEnS
"For trees that live in the snow, winter is a journey. Plants do not travel through space as we do; as a rule they do not move from place to place. Instead they travel through time, enduring one event after the other, and in this sense, winter is a particularly long trip. Trees follow the standard advice given for any extended travel within a rustic setting: pack carefully."

I came away, after reading Lab Girl, awed and delighted. How amazing to be able to walk along side the mind of a scientist,
...more
Guy Austin
I found this in an Independent Book store one day, not by actually seeing the book, there was a note on a card attached to an empty shelf.

It said, “Lab Girl by Hope Jahren - THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN A LONG WHILE – Buy it!”

So I asked where it was and the gal behind the stacks ran off, returned, and placed it in my hand, “You'll love it I promise.” Her enthusiasm caused me to not hesitate and pay full retail on the spot.

This is not just a Memoir as far as memoirs go. It is well written with
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Rebecca Foster
“Because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what the hell I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along.” This memoir puts so many things together that it shouldn’t work, yet somehow – delightfully – does. With witty anecdotes and recreated dialogue, Jahren tells about her Minnesota upbringing, her long years in education, her ultimate specialization in geobiology/botany, crossing the country to take up academic posts in Atlanta, Baltimore and Hawaii, her long-ti ...more
Michael
A rare and emotionally engaging close-up look at the development and practice of science, its empowerment and challenges, and the ability of Hope Jahren to transform influences from her father and her questing personality into a successful career in fields that could be called eco-geology and paleoecology. From her time helping her father manage the physics lab where he taught at a community college in suburban Minnesota, she came to appreciate the outlook of scientific inquiry, feel empowered i ...more
David
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to David by: Rebecca Foster
Hope Jahren is a paleo-botanist. She studies growing plants as well as ancient ones. She has been working as a scientist her entire life, and her dedication to the profession shines through every single page of this book.

Chapters about her own life alternate with chapters about botany. At first, this is a bit disconcerting, as the alternating chapters have little to do with each other. It is like reading two books at once, with their chapters intermingled. In addition, there seems to be very lit
...more
Snotchocheez
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 stars

Didn't expect to like this, despite the handful of glowing reviews from my friends. (For some reason I thought this was going to be a plant-centric H is For Hawk, which was okay, but not a book I'd care to revisit.) Hope Jahren's lovely affirmation to the scientific world, Lab Girl, is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in plants and trees and flora of all types. How she took botanist vignettes (e.g. plants that sweat, hackberry husks made of opal, the South's kudzu inf
...more
Kim
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2-star
I really wish Dr. Jahren had confined herself to talking about her work, which was interesting and inspiring. The rest of the book, especially the personal aspects, was tedious and full of endless whining. In my experience (having worked in R&D for over 25 years) women are judged on their merits as scientists. If you’re good, you’re taken seriously. Finding funding for academic research is a separate problem that affects scientists of both sexes. I also disliked her implication that there’s ...more
Olive (abookolive)
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2018
My god am I a sucker for an emotionally resonant and movingly written literary memoir.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
Clue 1. Happy, exuberant state.
Clue 2. Read 290 pages in one sitting.
Clue 3. Desire to tell everyone about book.
Clue 4. No interest in picking up another book until euphoria subsides.

Analysis?

Yes, I read a fabulous book today. Hope Jahren combines the stories of her life with alternating and connected stories of the plant world to create a brilliant book. Five stars.
Connie
Hope Jahren's love of science comes through loud and clear in her memoir. She grew up in a rural Minnesota home where there was not much family interaction. The highlight of her day as a child was spending the afternoon in her father's science lab at the local community college. Jahren is presently a professor of geobiology at the University of Hawaii. Her memoir chronicles her personal history and the challenges of running her own laboratory. It also contains short chapters giving fascinating i ...more
Mara
This is less a review than it is a caveat: My experience of “reading” the book was really more of a two star affair— however, I listened to it, and feel pretty confident that I would have enjoyed it more in the written word. The author reads the book herself, and during the parts that are supposed to be sad, she's reading in one of those choked-up/half-crying voices which is beyond annoying. But, what with lady scientist solidarity and such, I'm rounding up.
Joseph
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I knew Hope in high school, lost touch after graduation and reconnected 20+ years later (see? it's possible for good to come of Facebook!), so I'm not going to even pretend to be objective.

But if were to pretend, I might point out that this book is about trees and science and love and sheer bloodymindedness and may or may not have made me cry.
Caroline
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is both wonderful and idiosyncratic; I found it full of surprises. It's a mixture of various aspects of Hope Jahren's life. In different parts it is the author's life story, a description of a deep and unusual friendship, the trials of being an academic and researcher, and a monument of her devotion to ecology and botany. Hope Jahren is an unusual person, overflowing with warmth, wit and originality. Her story makes for a fascinating and delightful read.

I am going to finish this by s
...more
Carolyn
Hope Jahren's memoir is a fascinating insight into what it takes to be a successful research scientist in America today. She writes of the struggle to establish herself in a male-dominated world and the constant fight for recognition of ideas that don't fit in with the conventional view. She also touches on her struggle with bipolar disease and it's effect on her work, her life and motherhood. She describes the constant fight for funding and making do on a shoe-string, which will resonate with r ...more
Chrissie
The book is not bad, it is OK. It spreads itself thin.

It is an autobiography of one specific woman, a woman both ordinary and exceptional. The book depicts the life of a female botanical research scientist at the turn of the 21st century, a central issue being the difficulty in attaining adequate research grants to survive on. It is about friendship. It is about choosing where one's main interests lie - family or job. What I think it does best is draw the author's fervent passion for plants, re
...more
Petra
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
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 o ...more
L.A. Starks
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a shame this utterly amazing book has such a lame title. My advice is to forget the title and read the book.

Jahren, a three-time Fulbright winner, has written a reader-friendly, relationship-centered sequence of stories about her experience as a paleobotany researcher. There is much to learn and Jahren doesn't shrink from explaining it. However, the terms and structure are highly accessible. The book is one of those rare fusions of science and humanity that many readers so often wish for b
...more
Lynn
Apr 26, 2016 added it
Shelves: favorites
My first thoughts, this book is in a word, odd. It is a memoir written by a bipolar paleobiologist and her Asperger’s like, one-handed best friend/lab assistant. They stumble through the US and Europe trying to do good science.

The book is about three things. 1. Science: we learn about the scientific method, how a mass spectrometer works, and that trees have memory (all of which was much more interesting than I would have thought). 2. Love and Family: in all its permutations, good/bad, expressed
...more
Jessica Woodbury
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I waited for a long time to read this book even though it came highly recommended from several scientists. I was skeptical about the title. And while I am not a scientist by profession, I did train as an undergrad and earn a BS. The thing about scientists is we are very territorial. I am a Chemist. My Physicist friends say, "But Chemistry is all Physics!" and they are not entirely wrong. I often scoff at Biology, Botany, Zoology, etc. and say, "But you're ignoring all the Chemistry!" So the Bota ...more
JanB
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I finished this memoir a few days ago and in trying to get my thoughts together for a review, I read what my GR friends said about the book, and I realized it's all been said and said so much better and eloquently than I could.

So I'll just say I loved it. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author , and she does an excellent job. I loved hearing about her life and passion as a scientist, her illness (bipolar), her quirky friend Bill, her marriage, motherhood, and yes, I even loved the scien
...more
Perri
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love a book that educates me in a non-painful way. Jahren alternates chapters between her journey as a scientist and her knowledge and passion for botany. Of special interest to me was reading about the difficulties she faced especially as a Research Botanist. Some readers in my book club found her whiny, but I thought she was just being honest in her struggles with an antiseptic upbringing, mental illness, and sexist road blocks from being a woman in a male dominated fields. I learned it take ...more
Kasia
I might never look at a trees and plants the same way. Seriously thinking about planting my own oak tree on the back yard and watch it grow.
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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 four scientists, and the only woman, to have been awarded both of ...more
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“Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.” 83 likes
“Working in the hospital teaches you that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the sick and the not sick. If you are not sick, shut up and help.” 69 likes
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