03 December, 2016

Lab girl by Hope Jahren


Here begins the most beautiful love story ever known - between a girl and her book.

While I wouldn't mind owning most books I like, why would I, when the library exists to fulfill all my bookish needs? As a result, there are very few books I read that I like to own myself. 

Lab Girl is one of these books.
When I finished this book, I procrastinated returning it. I wanted it to stay with me forever, and even possibly get a second copy. As I checked it in and it no doubt fulfilled another hold for someone else in Auckland, I had a slight feeling of a phantom limb - my hands once had this book attached, and now it didn't... though I could still feel it there. I had this book in my possession for almost a month, and it had already become a part of me.

It's safe to say, I love this book. 

Hope Jahren is a scientist. Simple as that. She loves what she does and does it with enthusiasm. 
Her book spans her journey from studying to the three laboratories she's had (so far) in her life, and her adventures include working in a hospital, digging holes, dodging exploding glass and digging more holes.

How is it exciting? Why is digging holes so impressive?


Jahren has a way of writing that makes you feel like she is truly in love with her work and the world around her. She makes things we (or, I) take for granted, like the roots of trees, and makes them magical. Jahren describes things in a way that doesn't make you feel stupid for not knowing what palaeobiology was before picking the book up. She takes things you might not understand, explains them, explains why she loves them, and slowly convinces you to fall in love with it too. 

Although Lab Girl is largely about science, this book is definitely a memoir. Jahren lets you in on moments in her life that feel strangely too intimate for you to be there - her first job, meeting her lifelong companion, her pregnancy - but not in an effort to reel you in. Lab Girl is written in a way that feels like she was never writing the book for an audience - but for herself and her family and the person who asked her to. She glosses over nothing and doesn't embellish things that would make for a better story. To me, the book felt like she wrote to make sense of what happened instead of telling us how amazing or heartbreaking her life was. This was why it was so easy to love Lab Girl.

Books (memoirs especially) will flirt with you, and try and seduce you. You'll think about it while your fling is happening, and maybe a little while after, before moving on.
Lab Girl is the book in the back, doing it's own thing, that flashes you a smile and you're won over in an instant. Lab Girl is that rare romance that you will think about for a long time after, wishing you could read it again for the first time. 

While this book still has a number of holds on it, don't delay in putting your name on that list. Lab Girl is a book worth waiting for - true love always is.

Title: Lab Girl
Author: Hope Jahren

(Heavily) Recommended by Dana S, Central Library

Dana S is a, (completely unbiased) senior library assistant at Central Library who likes to think she has the best taste in books in the world. You can often find her telling people about a particularly good one. However, her taste is not open for criticism, and you will usually hear her follow up her recommendations with 'If you love it, we should talk about it! But if you don't, don't tell me. Just never speak of it again.'

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