by Hope Jahren, Hachette.
A fascination with the intricacies of people’s real-life passions has produced some great books of late. Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk is one, Bernice Barry’s biography of Australian botanist Georgiana Molloy is another, and geobiologist Hope Jahren’s memoir Lab Girl sits neatly alongside them. “I grew up in my father’s laboratory and played under the benches until I was old enough to play on them.” A professor at the University of Hawaii, her great-grandparents migrated to the “coldest place on earth, Minnesota” from Norway. She dedicates the book to her mother, yet observes the emotional distance of the Scandinavian. The sheer joy of this book is in the wit, the intimacy, the irreverence, the honesty, the romance of a scientific brain. The relationship with lab manager Bill Hagopian is mischievous and beautiful.