Lab Girl

  • by Hope Jahren
  • Narrated by Hope Jahren
  • 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime collaboration, in work and in life; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see and think about the natural world.
Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she's studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book might have been a revelatory treatise on plant life. Lab Girl is that, but it is also so much more. Because in it, Jahren also shares with us her inspiring life story, in prose that takes your breath away.
Lab Girl is a book about work, about love, and about the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren's remarkable stories: about the things she's discovered in her lab as well as how she got there; about her childhood - hours of unfettered play in her father's laboratory; about how she found a sanctuary in science and learned to perform lab work "with both the heart and the hands"; about a brilliant and wounded man named Bill, who became her loyal colleague and best friend; about their adventurous, sometimes rogue research trips, which take them from the Midwest all across the United States and over the Atlantic, from the ever-light skies of the North Pole to tropical Hawaii; and about her constant striving to do and be the best she could, never allowing personal or professional obstacles to cloud her dedication to her work.
Jahren's probing look at plants, her astonishing tenacity of spirit, and her insights on nature enliven every minute of this book. Lab Girl allows us to see with clear eyes the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal and the power within ourselves to face - with bravery and conviction - life's ultimate challenge: discovering who we are.

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What the Critics Say

"Some people are great writers, while other people live lives of adventure and importance. Almost no one does both. Hope Jahren does both. She makes me wish I'd been a scientist." (Ann Patchett)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Why authors should not narrate their own books

This fine memoir is yet another example of why most authors should not narrate their own books--or any others. While Jahren has a pleasant voice, she repeats the same intonations and rhythms over and over and over until the book gets boring. At times her voice trembles with emotion. I'd rather discover the emotion for myself, thank you, than have the author tell me what to feel.

Every year universities churn out qualified scientists and academics for whom there are no jobs in the fields they've worked long and hard to master. Jahren's book illustrates what a combination of work, deprivation, luck, and chutzpah it takes to make headway as a research scientist. The book can easily be forgiven for dwelling on too many youthful escapades as it makes its larger point about science, conservation, and the need to fund basic research.
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- sherri

Science biography, personal story, good read

Excellent read! Shares the challenges of being a female scientist in today's American university context as well as the difficulties of being a scientist more generally if one is doing non military related pure research. More than that she tells a deeply personal and powerful story of her own challenges and dreams while sharing something of the realities of dealing with bipolar disorder. Those who want to know more about how plants operate should read this book. Those who enjoy good biography can enjoy it too. I found it interesting on many levels!
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- Bing

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-05-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio