Hope Jahren is perfectly described by the title 'lab girl': as a child it was her father's lab in a community college in Minnesota, followed by university labs, and then, the pinnacle of success, her own research laboratory. Passionate about the world of science, especially plants, seeds and soil, this award-winning paleobiologist turns her remarkable talents to candidly telling the story of both her professional and personal journeys.
From her adventures in fieldwork in the American West, North Pole, Ireland and Hawaii, through to the struggle for funding and the particular challenges of being a woman in science, this unconventional story is a dazzling blend of memoir and very readable science. [Larger font]
Found it slow to start but loved her humanity at the end. Great, if crazy, friendship with Bill.
By far the best book of the year.
Beautiful book to read! Hilariously funny in places - all loved this book.
We all enjoyed this book - the way it was structured, the science, and the personal journey of hope. Her writing was beautifully descriptive.
We all loved it. Most unusual and a wonderful insight into what happens in a university lab. One of our members is a former lab girl herself and confirmed that is exactly how it was! Most discussion centred on the mental states of Hope and Bill. We decided he was on the spectrum. Fascinating book. We learned a lot. Very well-written with an eye for the humour in many situations.
Most liked this book. A great deal of technical information which was difficult, but much of the author's own story was fascinating.
What a wonderful book, relating some aspects of the amazing life of Hope Jahren - we all wanted to meet her, and spend time with her, after reading this! Hopefully, we will in the future not need to focus on her gender and all that she has achieved despite the long-held prejudices in the scientific community, but can revel in her free spirit and ability to think outside of the square! A truly inspiring read!
The book generated a lot of discussion about women in science, and the glass ceiling that used to exist for promotion in science and other professions. We enjoyed the relationship between Bill and herself, and the humour and pushing of the boundaries. Some discussion about being bi-polar. Her description of a manic episode gave us a rare insight into this disorder. Very well-written. Never a dull moment in this book!
Discussion was by e-mail and phone chats! The conclusion was that all in all, it was a worthwhile and interesting book to read. Lots to learn about plants and trees, and the life of a research scientist. Together with her somewhat odd personal life, it did make good reading.
Everyone found this memoir fascinating - both the main focus- trees ( who knew how amazing they are) and the writer, whose quirky, empathetic personality shone through in her passion and boundless curiosity and determination. We liked the structure, where the aspects of trees were presented in tandem with aspects of the author's life. Loved her, and her faithful sidekick and collaborator Bill, and their enduring, slightly weird friendship. Such a good read and so well-written. Highly recommended.
Unanimous on some points, divided on others. We agreed that it was very well-written.
Took some getting into, but then hooked. Learnt so much. Writing flowed - understated and modest. Several members would like to buy book. Great recommendation.
Enjoyed the author's frank, rich, vivid writing and her way of describing how plants work. We learned a lot about the plant world.
We loved the structure of the book - the use of her descriptions of plants, and in particular as an illustration of her personal and professional development, we found really impressive. The anthropomorphism was choice:-) It was clever and we learned so much about soil, plants and trees. And her passion (obsession) with biology and botany was infectious. It was accessible and easy to read.
Lots of great discussion.
Group enjoyed it very much - found lots to discuss.
Several group members particularly enjoyed the book, finding it an easy read and very interesting. Others had some reservations about the level of botanical detail. Overall a worthwhile read.