Book Reviews

Book Review: Lab Girl

Lab Girl. Hope Jahren. New York: Knopf, 2016. 304 pages. ISBN 9781101874936 Letters, words, sentences, chapters, figures, tables, articles, issues, books, and volumes—each of these items inform, sharing an anticipated quantity of truth, or perhaps notifying us that the “matching lid” we’ve been using has been misplaced. Lab Girl uses alternating chapters of personal and professional memoir (a format I greatly enjoyed) including “Part One: Roots and Leaves,” “Part Two: Wood and Knots,” and “Part Three: Flowers and Fruit,” to weave a captivating and educational tale. Originally I listened to the audiobook version and delighted in the author’s tone, slowing my intake in order to clarify some of the most meaningful accounts as they were recapped. I later added the hardback version to my bookshelf providing easy access to the excerpts; some hilarious and others cautionary. It also serves as a visual reminder for me to appreciate the fact that attending annual meetings rarely includes an icy road trip with peers (or in vans). Jahren’s love for the lab, and the story, both get under way in her father’s introductory physics and earth science lab at a Midwestern Community College. Her quest for knowledge leads to an increasingly widening radius of locations (University of California, Berkeley; Georgia Institute of Technology; Johns Hopkins University; and University of Hawaii) as her career, her laboratory, the navigation of the scientific-grant obstacle course, and her keen writing of scientific papers to flourish. You will learn about, or be reminded of, botany while reading this […]

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