"I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree."
Joyce Kilmer wasn't writing about cactus, but still . . .
The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) awards are a great source for good books. In 2016 the NBCC award for autobiography went to Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, and rightly so. Lab Girl is the story of geobiologist Jahren's journey from growing up in Minnesota, where her father taught physics and earth science at a community college, to the forging of her own path into science and academia, and the relationships that grew along the way.
What is most striking to me about this book is how beautifully it is written. It is composed as artfully as award winning fiction or poetry. The chapters alternate between Jahren's sparkling discussion of plants and her engrossing personal story of professional and personal struggles and success. The memoir is lean, yet comprehensive and compulsively readable.
If you are looking for an outstanding autobiography to settle into this winter, check out Lab Girl. And to see the nominees for the 2017 NBCC awards, click here.