Esil's Reviews > Lab Girl

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
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really liked it
bookshelves: 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 trying to make a place for themselves in the world.
-This is a plea for conservation and better funding of scientific research.
-This is a shout out to all women who work in traditionally male professions.
-This is a stark account of living life with bipolar disease.
-This is funny, sad, affecting, thoughtful, and consistently surprising.

And did I mention that Jahren is a crazy good writer? There's something unconventional and potent about how she phrases her story and thoughts.

A note on the audio: Jahren reads it herself. At times, her narration is painfully slow. But her voice does convey a lot of emotion.

Thanks to a few GR friends and their enthusiastic reviews. I never would have considered reading this one otherwise.
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Reading Progress

May 1, 2016 – Shelved
May 1, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
March 28, 2017 – Started Reading
March 28, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobook
April 13, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-33 of 33 (33 new)

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen Still on the fence for this one -
Nice review, Esil


Snotchocheez Great review, Esil. This was way more fun than I thought it would be. Kinda makes me want to be a botanist. (okay, maybe not)


message 3: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Nice review Esil. Might have to consider this one.


Esil Marita wrote: "Thank you for your lovely review, Esil. You provide many reasons and a good case for reading this novel."

Thanks Marita. I definitely recommend it something different but really engaging.


Esil Jen wrote: "Still on the fence for this one -
Nice review, Esil"


Thanks Jen. I suspect that this is a love it or hate it book.


Esil Snotchocheez wrote: "Great review, Esil. This was way more fun than I thought it would be. Kinda makes me want to be a botanist. (okay, maybe not)"

Thanks Robbie. I would never had read it based on the description if I had read enthusiastic reviews like yours. She definitely makes trees sound way more interesting than I have given them credit for.


Esil Melanie wrote: "Nice review Esil. Might have to consider this one."

Thanks Melanie. It's unusual but definitely worth a try.


message 8: by Bianca (new) - added it

Bianca Awesome review. I guess I'll have to add it ...


Michael Lovely review. You capture it's unusual qualities. The friendship part stood out for me. Trying to figure out what it reveals about science. Quite a match of personality and career. So true with your "consistently surprising". Sure hard to predict what readers will dig this.


message 10: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Bianca wrote: "Awesome review. I guess I'll have to add it ..."

Thanks Bianca. This one is really unusual but worth a try.


message 11: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Michael wrote: "Lovely review. You capture it's unusual qualities. The friendship part stood out for me. Trying to figure out what it reveals about science. Quite a match of personality and career. So true with yo..."

Thanks Michael. In an odd way, I do think that the unusual friendship between the author and Bill may have been the prime motivation for writing the book. In many ways, they are lucky to have found each other.


message 12: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane Barnes It's been on my list for a while, just haven't gotten to it yet. Your review is good enough and so honest that I may have to get around to it sooner than later.


JanB Nice review Esil, and what a great list! I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I also liked the audiobook. She was slow at times but I was so caught up in what she was saying it didn't bother me.


message 14: by Taryn (new) - added it

Taryn Wonderful review! I've never felt drawn towards this book, but I read everyone's outstanding reviews and I know that I must make time for it someday. Your list of thoughts has confirmed that feeling!


Diane S ☔ Fantastic review, Esil.


message 16: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Diane wrote: "It's been on my list for a while, just haven't gotten to it yet. Your review is good enough and so honest that I may have to get around to it sooner than later."

Thanks Diane. Based on what I know of your tastes, my guess is that you would like this one.


message 17: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil JanB wrote: "Nice review Esil, and what a great list! I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I also liked the audiobook. She was slow at times but I was so caught up in what she was saying it didn't bother me."

Thanks JanB. The audio ended up growing on me. I found it challenging at the beginning but really grew to appreciate her voice.


message 18: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Taryn wrote: "Wonderful review! I've never felt drawn towards this book, but I read everyone's outstanding reviews and I know that I must make time for it someday. Your list of thoughts has confirmed that feeling!"

Thanks Taryn. I had the same reaction to the description, but you should really give it a try. This is an unconventional and compelling memoir.


message 19: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Diane S ☔ wrote: "Fantastic review, Esil."

Thanks Diane. I think I liked this one more than you did.


Iris P Oh, reading this review made me so happy. Cheers to you for articulating so well what this book is about and, and cheers also to the Lab Girl, crazy good writer indeed! I think she would love this review as well :)


message 21: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Iris P wrote: "Oh, reading this review made me so happy. Cheers to you for articulating so well what this book is about and, and cheers also to the Lab Girl, crazy good writer indeed! I think she would love this ..."

Thanks Iris. Much appreciated :)


message 22: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Esil, I like your review... an interesting analytical perspective that I could not pull together after reading Lab Girl! I loved Lab Girl; to me it was lyrical, wise, poetic, deeply emotional, Hope Jahrens' scientific, creative soul exposed through the vulnerability of her research. Obviously, it reaches many on different levels.


message 23: by Karen (new)

Karen Great review Esil, added!


message 24: by Angela M (new)

Angela M Excellent review , Esil . This didn't appeal to me but you make it sound really good !


message 25: by Debbie (new) - added it

Debbie Love your review, Esil! I stay away from science usually, but this sounds good! Like how you summed it up so nicely!


message 26: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil DeB wrote: "Esil, I like your review... an interesting analytical perspective that I could not pull together after reading Lab Girl! I loved Lab Girl; to me it was lyrical, wise, poetic, deeply emotional, Hope..."

Thanks DeB. I love your perspective too. Lyrical is a good word to describe this one.


message 27: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Karen wrote: "Great review Esil, added!"

Thanks Karen. I would love to see what you think of this one.


message 28: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Angela M wrote: "Excellent review , Esil . This didn't appeal to me but you make it sound really good !"

Thanks Angela. It didn't really appeal to me, but I read so many good reviews that I decided to give it a try. I think you would be really moved by Jahren's relationship with Bill.


message 29: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Debbie wrote: "Love your review, Esil! I stay away from science usually, but this sounds good! Like how you summed it up so nicely!"

Thanks Debbie. Don't worry about the science. It's actually not central, and what there is is not really "sciency". And the other Debbie loved it :)


message 30: by Debbie (new) - added it

Debbie Esil wrote: "Debbie wrote: "Love your review, Esil! I stay away from science usually, but this sounds good! Like how you summed it up so nicely!"

Thanks Debbie. Don't worry about the science. It's actually not..."


S t o p pulling me toward it . . . Help!


Christin Renee I am reading your review as I begin to read Lab Girl, thank you for summarising this book so eloquently as I do not know what to expect but hope for greatness!


message 32: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Christin wrote: "I am reading your review as I begin to read Lab Girl, thank you for summarising this book so eloquently as I do not know what to expect but hope for greatness!"

Thanks Christin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Jamilya Scheve Don't know how this book gets four or five stars??? Boring, full of f, a,b words. Is it new trend to get five or four stars???? Just waisted my time. I studied biology at school, didn't add anything to my education.


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