Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.
Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.
Science was never my favourite subject in school, and it was definitely not something that I excelled at, so when I was recommended Lab Girl I was initially hesitant but I am so glad that I caved and decided to give it a chance! Hope Jahren explains things in a way that makes it easy to understand, and her passion for trees and nature is so apparent, that it makes the reader feel passionate about the subject as well! There was also so much more to this story than just her work. I felt that it was really about her beautiful friendship with Bill. It was incredible how masterfully she was able to weave together both the science and her personal story. It was also interesting to see her thrive in a male dominated career. As soon as I finished the book I turned to google and read more about her. That is how fascinated I became in her work and her as a person! If you dislike science, but love memoirs, I still think Lab Girl would be a book you would enjoy!
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is my first Roxane Gay book, and while I enjoyed her writing and will read more of her work, there is something about it that I just didn’t connect with. I thought all of the pop culture references were interesting, but if I am being honest, it felt more like a series of book/movie reviews as opposed to essays on feminism. I absolutely loved the introduction and the fact that she called herself a bad feminist. I related a lot to what she had to say in that chapter. As I read more and more of the essays it felt as if she kind of moved away from what she initially intendd the book to be about. I think it might have been the stream of consciousness style that didn’t work for me. She did make a lot of points that I thought were interesting and I enjoyed learning more about her life and career. I will point out that all of my friends on Goodreads have rated this book five stars, so it might just be a me thing! I am looking forward to trying more from her, starting with Hunger.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine—now with all-new, never-before-published material.
New York Chef Tony Bourdain gives away secrets of the trade in his wickedly funny, inspiring memoir/expose. Kitchen Confidential reveals what Bourdain calls “twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine.”
Like many of us, I was so sad to hear of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. I was reading a lot of articles about him and every single one mentioned his book, Kitchen Confidential, and I thought it sounded really interesting. I also wanted to learn more about him. I decided to listen to that audiobook since he himself narrates it, and it was such an enjoyable experience. He had a cool, laid-back voice and I was captivated by this book. I love that he shared both culinary secrets, such as don’t order the seafood special on Mondays, but also opened up about his own life and career. I knew next to nothing about him and it was great to learn a little bit about his childhood, how he fell in love with food, and the wild ride that had been his life. He is so honest about his opinions, and can be very blunt. It is quite obvious that he was no fan of vegetarians! This book, as well as Lab Girl, made me realize that I enjoy books that focus on someone talking about their passion in life. I am now on the hunt looking for books that are similar. Any recommendations would be welcome!