I simply loved this book from page 1 onwards Jahren writes in a wonderful and simple way about major life achievements and scientific discoveries It is inspirational and informative Simply a great read. I was a bit disappointed, having come away from a review with the expectation that this might discuss some technical ingenuity in cobbling together equipment and experiments with limited resources This is mentioned than once, but only ever as background for the human stories which are the real focus of the book I found the plant human life analogies in roughly alternating chapters a bit hackneyed, only skimming them by the end I m sure if I had interest in biology or ecology, I d have had time for these Overall, a light and entertaining read, but not as engaging as I d hoped. A delightful book that is just enjoyable to read You will have a different perspective on trees after reading this and quite possibly on many other things Hope is an appropriate name for the author of a book that will live in your memory for years. One set by my book Group Very interesting but I felt that it read like a text book and so not my cup of tea I did however learn a lot from it. Beautifully written interweaving of botany and autobiography Immediately sent a copy to my mother who is also entranced by this novel As an artist who collaborates with scientists the descriptions of the author s collaborative partnership, of how professional life can build deep connections while strong boundaries are retained, rang true Loved this book. VERY funny writer, learnt a lot and now walk the dogs through neighbouring woods with a different perspective on what are now living entities.It s certainly an eye opener Thoroughly enjoyed meeting the author and her colleagues especially, of course, Bill Not a scientist myself, my pleasure in the science is through the romantic filters of an enthralled onlooker, but with female scientists in the friends and family circle, there was also satisfying and nostalgic familiarity in descriptions of field and lab work But, having lived life for quite a while myself, I delighted in the author s path described with so much unembellished honesty and intensity More astonishing and satisfyingly real than fiction Warmth and sincerity devoted to the subjects of life and science in equal measure Highly recommended. It is a rare breed of scientist who is both a leader in her field and a great writer, but Hope Jahren is both A tenured professor at the University of Hawaii, Jahren has built a career and a reputation in science by unearthing secrets hidden in fossilized plant life Her work has resulted in at least 70 studies in dozens of journals, but it s also given her a platform to talk about something else widespread sexual harassment and discrimination in science On her blog, in op eds and in her new memoir, Lab Girl,Jahren wields her influence to call out a culture that has caused women to flee the field she so loves That s why she does it she loves science And whether she s writing about lab funding, discrimination or deciduous trees, she has a way of making you love it too Siobhan O Connor, TIME, 100 Most Influential PeopleLab Girl made me look at trees differently It compelled me to ponder the astonishing grace and gumption of a seed Perhaps most importantly, it introduced me to a deeply inspiring woman a scientist so passionate about her work I felt myself vividly with her on every page This is a smart, enthralling, and winning debut Cheryl Strayed Lab Girl surprised, delighted, and moved me I was drawn in from the start by the clarity and beauty of Jahren s prose, whether she was examining the inner world of a seed, the ecosystem around the trunk of a tree, or recounting her own inspiring journey With Lab Girl, Jahren joins those talented scientists who are able to reveal to us the miracle of this world in which we live Abraham Verghese Jahren has dedicated her life s work to the study of trees with extraordinary single mindedness and insight Lab Girl is both an engaging account of her maturity as a scientist and a heartfelt paean to plants They emerge from her memoir as muchthan a bundle of biological processes, but beings with strange, secret lives, supported by astonishingly elegant machineryLucid, brilliant Harriet Baker, Times Literary Supplement Fascinating, engagingimmediately engrossing and extremely readableLeaves, soil and seeds light a fire in the mind and heart of Hope Jahren In her hands, you will never feel the same way about these words againThe main theme of her memoir is survival in science, in life, in love For humans and for plants In these pages you ll find a renewed interest in the natural world, and notice things that have been hidden in plain sight Jahren marvels at the perfectly clean break of a leaf stem, the first leaves of a new plant and you will find yourself marvelling too She writes Love and learning are similar, in that they can never be wasted And neither is time spent reading this book Lucie Green, The GuardianUK Magnificent, illuminating Moving, resonant, relatableOn the journey she has taken since childhood, into the university world, and ultimately building three research labs that bear her name, earning multiple Fulbrights and one brand or another of genius awards, Jahren will never lose her deep affection for the wonders of the known and unknown world A gorgeous book of life Jahren contains multitudes Her book is love as life Trees as truth Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune Breathtakingly honest, affectingGeobiologist Hope Jahren was not satisfied presenting only the pieces of her story that fit within the constraints of a scientific manuscript In this behind the scenes tour of science, we join her for misadventures and triumphs as she sets up three labs and conducts research in the Canadian Arctic, Ireland, Hawaii, and across the continental United States The purview of a geobiologist includes everything from soil science and geology to atmospheric science and botany Jahren is game for all of it She connects her own experiences to the works of Charles Dickens, E E Cummings, and Harper Lee often humorously with the same ease that she describes leaf venation This mingling of the literary and the scientific highlights their connections, as well as the humanity underlying both disciplines Fascinating plant facts do the double work of opening avenues for deeper reflectionAt its core, Lab Girl is a book about seeing with the eyes, but also the hands and the heart Jahren spends the book teaching us that if we just look closely enough, we can see the opal lattice on a hackberry seed, the depths of loyalty in our closest friends, the wonder in a single leaf, and what we ourselves are supposed to becomeGorgeous Carolyn Beans, American Scientist Hope Jahren is the voice that science has been waiting for Lab Girl is a tell all autobiography that demystifies a research career, even as it reveals its strangeness She writes about the plight of women in research academia, but Lab Girl is muchFrom childhood origins as a loner through a 20 year career, Jahren s voice is clear, compelling and uncompromisingly honestPlant development becomes a metaphor for her own progress in the challenging landscape of academiaShe s the type of scientist who cheerfully spends three seasons drilling through Arctic turf between sessions of hard graft, her lab group takes road trips to see bizarre attractions, or attempts elaborate campfire cuisine Amid descriptions of the work, uncomfortable secrets of science are laid bare Jahren pulls no punches on the stark realities of being a woman in science, which won t come as a surprise to many This is not a how to manual, but young scientists of either gender could learn a lot simply from Jahren s perseverance Lab Girl is funny, full of joyous moments, and often sad But despite all the hardship, there is clearly nowhere else that Jahren would rather be Jennifer Rohn, Nature RemarkableThe ferocious curiosity that drives scientists to new discoveries is similar to the keen observation of compelling writers Jahren s new book is an exemplar of novel science and sharp writing Lab Girl is the acutely personal account of the drive that propels people to the frontier of an academic discipline The book speaks not only to aspiring botanist, but to anyone who has ever relentlessly pursued vocational excellenceJahren s journey is never sidetracked by her real passion for botany Her eloquent rhapsodies about peerless soil samples, willow trees, and the tenacity of a cactus prompt a deeply inquisitive spirit in readersA compelling read for anyone interested in an up close account of a passionate woman A pure, tenacious pursuit of excellence permeates Jahren s career and her book Rachel Wilkerson,Verily LuminousPeppered with literary references to Genet, Beckett, Dickens and Thoreau, Jahren s honest prose is insightful, eloquent, and funny, and she has a gift for explaining hard science in the most bewitching wayThe heart of the book is the story of her touching relationship with Bill, her brilliant lab partner Lab Girl is a book about being a woman in science as much as it is a clarion call to follow your passion In the end, it s easy to see the book as a love note not just to plants, to science, and to the sweetness of discovery, but also to friendship and loyalty, to journeys big and small, to belonging and becoming Kathleen Yale, Orion Sparkling, unexpecteddelightfully, wickedly funnyprecise, detailed, engrossing Any woman who opens her book with the line There is nothing in the worldperfect than a slide rule already has my heart Lab Girl is the story of a girl who becomes a scientist It s also the story of a career and the endless struggles over funding, recognition, and politics that get in the way It s the story of the plants and soil Hope Jahren studies But and this is the weirdest, coolest part about this book it is really the story of two lab partners and their uncommon bond Hope and Bill s is not any ordinary friendship she lets us into this peculiar, inscrutable, enduring association with both honesty and compassion When two misfits meet, they tend to connect at a deep, unspoken, lizard brain level that cannot be easily explained to anyone else The fact that she even tried much less succeeded so brilliantly to put their lab partners for life arrangement on paper is one of the most impressive feats in this extraordinary book.With Lab Girl, Jahren has taken the form of the memoir and done something remarkable with it She swerves from observations about plant life to a report from the interior of her tortured brain to adventures on the road with Bill and somehow, it all worksI love this book for its honesty, its hilarity and its brilliant sharp edges Jahren has some serious literary chops to go along with all that science she gets up to I can t wait to see what comes next Powerful and disarming Amy Stewart, The Washington Post Jahren writes with such flair that a reviewer is tempted to just move out of the way and quote her from the prologue on, a reader itches to call out fun facts to innocents nearby Deft and flecked with humor, Lab Girl is also a hybrid a scientist s memoir of a quirky, gritty, fascinating life, punctuated by mesmerizing dispatches on botanyThe mixing of C.P Snow s two cultures the sciences and the humanities gives the book a bright spark, like playing tennis with an intriguing, ambidextrous friend Jahren s improvised path as a woman scientist forms the spine of Lab Girl Her lab partner Bill, a sort of fraternal twin, carries the weight of emotional confederacy in the bookLike Robert Sapolsky s A Primate s Memoir or Helen Macdonald s H is for Hawk, Lab Girl delivers the zing of a beautiful mind in nature Karen R Long, Seattle Times Sublime, entertainingWith good humor, plenty of science, scattered literary allusions and the occasional sarcastic zinger, Lab Girl is a memoir of a plant research scientist that illuminates both the science of the plant world and the ebb and flow of her personal life her struggles to find professional success, love and family Jahren emerges as a smart, practical, good hearted woman who loves her work and also finds joy in her husband, young son and best friend, Bill Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awarenessstarred Revelatorya veritable jungle of ideas and sensations Chapters on the life cycle of plants, Jahren s specialty, alternate with episodes from her life as she copes with early obstacles or produces her first original experimental resultLab Girl celebrates the unanticipated rewards of her idiosyncrasies Not least of these is Jahren s friendship with Bill, her scientific partner of over 20 years A pronounced oddball, a seeker of knowledge, and a trader of sardonic wisecracks, Bill is Jahren s unfailing, unfussy sidekick he s never happier than when on the job, savoring the complexities of soil layers or scavenging secondhand equipment for the laboratories the two of them have built togetherJahren captures the ramshackle poetry of this friendship, whose loyalty is so deep and abiding that it forges a great love story, in spite of the utter absence of erotic interest in either party Its strength springs from the partners shared passion for their vocation with all its tedium and frustration and uncertainty and wonderWinning Laura Miller, Slate As a young girl growing up in Minnesota, Jahren spent her formative years in the labs of her father, a science teacher at the local community college But while her time in the lab with her father may have steered Jahren toward science, her mother s quest to earn a Bachelor s degree later in life meant that as a young girl, Jahren read the classics alongside her mother It is this literary upbringing fueled by science that heralds Jahren s memoir as the beginning of a career along the lines of Annie Dillard or Diane Ackerman In Lab Girl, she constructs her own life story her struggling years as an undergraduate, the persistent sexist attitude of the scientific community, the constant lack of funds, her growing awareness of her bipolar disorder with the attention to detail and respect for organic growth that has earned her increased recognition and funding in the later years of her career The strongest story running through the memoir is a love story that between Jahren and her colleague, Bill not her husband but work partner, travel companion, surrogate brother and best friend Jahren considers us all scientists, operating within our own sphere of study, and she writes this book as one scientist to another Meganne Febrega, Minneapolis StarTribune A scientific memoir that s beautifully human Jahren, a geochemist, botanist and geobiologist, has spent the better part of the past two decades studying the secret lives of plants Part memoir, part biology text, part criticism of the status quo of the scientific community, Lab Girl reminds us that, in ways, we are strikingly like our blossoming brethren Lab Girl is anything but technical It is full of pleasing turns of phrase, references to literary figures like Genet and Dickens, and a running botany allusion that punctuates the book s biographical story Most of all, it s deeply personal, following Jahren s battle with manic depression a harrowing pregnancy her unending struggle to secure funding in a quickly drying financial desert and the loving platonic relationship she shares with her protg and lab manager, Bill Jahren s work has taken her around the world, from the ancient forests of Norway and Denmark to the remote and treeless Arctic, and most recently to the lush gardens of Hawaii Throughout, she inserts short essays about the life cycles of plants the unwavering obstinacy of the cactus, or the careful budgeting of resources of a deciduous tree juxtaposed with the traumas and triumphs of her own academic and personal life It is not the book a scientist usually writes in its depth and rawness, Lab Girl steps into uncharted territory It is a book, Jahren says , intended to break down the wall between scientists and the rest of the world Melissa Cronin, Popular Science A recollection of a life in botanical science lessons in plant life a story of Jahren s relationship with an eccentric co worker The three elements combine to form one fascinating memoir Entertainment Weekly,10 Books You Have to Read in April A powerful new memoirJahren is a remarkable scientist who turns out to be a remarkable writer as well A geobiologist who can take you into the deepest secrets of plants and earth, then turn around and stun you with her own deeply human story Think Stephen Jay Gould or Oliver Sacks But Jahren is a woman in science, who speaks plainly to just how rugged that can be And to the incredible machinery of life around us Tom Ashbrook, On Point, National Public Radio Gratifying, spiriteda moving chronicle of an eminent research scientist s lifeIt takes a passionate geobiologist with the soul of a poet to make us swoon in the face of computational amplitudeJahren s aim is to make the reader appreciate the fascinations of studying flora, to infect us with the same enthusiasm that has driven her ever since she was a child hanging around in her father s lab, falling hard for the sensuous allures of the slide rule Early on she discovers one generous mystery of scientific inquiry in the course of making it, it makes youJahren s literary bent renders dense material digestible and lyrical, in fables that parallel personal history Her lab partner Bill is a character every bit as extraordinary as any of the wild organisms she describesJahren is determined we stop taking trees for granted so plant one tree this year, she implores Trees nourish life in uncountable, always beautiful, ways, and to plant one is to plant hope Melissa Holbrook Pierson, The New York Times Book Review EngrossingVladimir Nabokov once observed that a writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist The geobiologist Hope Jahren possesses both in spades Her new memoir is at once a thrilling account of her discovery of her vocation and a gifted teacher s road map to the secret lives of plants a book that, at its best, does for botany what Oliver Sacks s essays did for neurology, what Stephen Jay Gould s writings did for paleontologyBy crosscutting between chapters about the life cycle of trees and flowers and other green things, and chapters about her own coming of age as a scientist, Jahren underscores the similarities between humans and plants tenacity, inventiveness, an ability to adapt but,emphatically, the radical otherness of plantsIn the laboratory of her father, who taught introductory physics and earth science at a local community college, she discovered the rituals and magic of science She embraced its rules and procedures and the attention to detail it demanded Science gave her what she needed a home as defined in the most literal sense, a safe place to beShe communicates the electric excitement of discovering something new something no one ever knew or definitively proved before and the grunt work involved in conducting studies and experiments the days and weeks and months of watching and waiting and gathering data, the all nighters, the repetitions, the detours, both serendipitous and unfruitfulAlong the way, she comes to realize that her work as a scientist is also part of a larger enterprise she is part of the continuum of scientists who have each built upon their predecessors work, and who will hand down their own advances to the next generation Michiko Kakutani, The New York TimesWarm, wittyBorn and raised in a rural Minnesota town built around a meat processing plant and defined mostly by its brutal winters and Scandinavian restraint, Jahren assumed that the grim endurance of her Norwegian immigrant ancestors was her legacy She did turn out to be tenacious, though not exactly in the way she had pictured Long hours spent entertaining herself as a child in her physics teacher father s work space piqued Jahren s interest in science, and her housewife mother s unhappiness propelled her to pursue higher education all the way to a UC Berkeley Ph.D Today, she s an internationally renowned geobiologist with three Fulbrights, her own world class laboratory, and a Wikipedia page longer and starrier than most U.S senators Lab Girl is her recounting of the near half century of adventures, setbacks, and detours that brought her from there to here But eventhan that, it s a fascinating portrait of her engagement with the natural world she investigates everything from the secret life of cacti to the tiny miracles encoded in an acorn seed, studding her observations with memorable sentencesJahren s singular gift is her ability to convey the everyday wonder of her work exploring the strange, beautiful universe of living things that endure and evolve and bloom all around us, if we bother to look A Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment WeeklyDeeply affectinga totally original work, both fierce and uplifting a biologist s natural history of her subjects, and herself In Lab Girl, pioneering geobiologist Jahren limns her journey from insecure young scientist to medals and professional and personal fulfillment Jahren recognized as an undergrad that science would be her true home a place of safety, warmth, and light where she could be part of something larger than herself A belletrist in the mold of Oliver Sacks, she is terrific at showing just how science is done But her prose reaches another dimension when she describes her remarkable relationship with a lab guy, an undergraduate loner named Bill The research partners dig holes, gather soil samples, battle personal demons, and keep each other grounded Jahren s writing is precise, as befits a scientist who also loves words She s an acute observer, prickly and funny as hell Elizabeth Royte, ELLE Attentive to subtle signs of growth and change, geobiologist Jahren turns her gaze not only outward but also inward and finds wonder even in minutiae the flourishing of a seed, an emotional efflorescence in her own psyche Science has taught me that everything iscomplicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life Dawn Raffel, More Jahren grew up in small town Minnesota, playing in her father s science lab and laboring in her mother s garden Her first book invites readers to fall in love, as she did, with science and plants The award winning scientist travels the world studying trees with her best friend and lab partner, and finds refuge from life s conflicts in the lab There I transformed from a girl into a scientist, just like Peter Parker becoming Spider Man, only kind of backward, she writes Jennifer Maloney, The Wall Street Journal, The Hottest Spring Nonfiction Books Jahren, a professor of geobiology, recounts her unfolding journey to discover what it s like to be a plant in this darkly humorous, emotionally raw, and exquisitely crafted memoir Jahren, who loves her calling to excess, describes the joy of working alone at night, the multidimensional glory of a manic episode, scavenging jury rigged equipment from a retiring colleague, or spontaneously road tripping with students She likens elements of her scientific career to a plant driven by need and instinct But the most extraordinary and delightful element of her narrative is her partnership with Bill, her lab partner and caring best friend It s a rare portrait of a deep relationship in which mutual esteem is unmarred by sexual tension For Jahren, a life in science yields the gratification of asking, knowing, and telling for the reader, the joy is in hearing about the process as much as the results Publishers Weeklystarred reviewA frank, illuminating and incandescent memoir by a trailblazing scientist a moving portrait of a longtime collaboration in work and life and a book that casts a whole new light on the natural world.