A new book arrived at my local library that had my name written all over it. Not literally, but you understand what I’m saying here. I work part-time at an environmental education center and part-time at the library, so when a book about nature arrives I quickly pull out my library card and check it out.
Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren at first glance looked like my kind of read. On the cover the word LAB is spelled out in dirt. An oak sapling and an acorn also attract the eye. Okay, you got me. I do judge books by their covers. That’s the way publishers get our attention in 2016. (Same goes for wine labels, have you noticed that too?)
I didn’t read the inside cover of the book closely and missed that it was a memoir. It took a few chapter for me to realize the book was not about plants. There are interesting snippets about trees and other cool facts about plants but the meat of the book is about the life of one woman who took the road less traveled and became a research scientists.
Jahren shares her experience of being a woman in a male dominated field and her challenges with her own internal obsessive drive to work harder but that’s only part of her story. We follow her learning curve as she advances in her career and personal life. Her writing and stories are not stuffy, they feel more like having coffee with a middle age woman giving you a broad and entertaining view of her life thus far. By the end of the book you will be wishing she had told you her story in person and that you have plans to go to lunch with her next week.
The final chapter in the book is a plea to plant a tree as they are being cut down (worldwide) every day at an alarming rate. My husband and I have been talking about planting trees in our yard and I am now determined to make it happen. As for Jahren’s suggestion that I carve Bill’s name into a tree…maybe. If you are wondering who Bill is and why put his name on a tree, well you have to read the book and find out.
Add Lab Girl to your reading list, you don’t want to miss this one.
By Jill Eudaly