Both books this month for my book clubs were good. Our in-person book club read The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley and our on-line book club read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.
The Authenticity Project
centers around a generic green notebook which gets picked up and shared by passers-by. The notebook starts off with the “true story” of the first writer, Julian Jessop, an 80 something artist who has been a hermit for the past decade. He believes that most people put on a front to others, and never share their true selves. So, he decides to share his true story anonymously and leaves it behind in a local café. The owner of the café, Monica, finds it and tries to find the owner, but reads the story. Eventually she adds her story in the notebook, and it continues to snowball. Each reader, and then writer, eventually connect with each other and are profoundly changed. The first ¾ of the book is witty and fast-paced, and thought provoking, with a very interesting premise. The final ¼ is more of a romance and gets wrapped up all too tidily for me.
Most of us enjoyed reading it. One person gave it a 2.5, but everyone else scored between 3 – 3.5. It came in at 3.25
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren,
is one of my top 10 books I have read in recent years. I really liked it, and that is a bit unusual since I am not a huge fan of non-fiction. Lab Girl is Jahren’s memoir. It covers her early life into adulthood, from student to professor, researcher, and then wife and mother. She also is quite open about battles with mental illness. The book is told in a very interesting story-like way. Some of the stories are so far out that it seems hard to believe, but she weaves her life together with honesty and integrity. She is an excellent writer and an accomplished scientist/geobiologist/botanist who has spent her career studying plants and their relationship with the world at large. I loved how she related the workings of each part of a plant to her own life. I have recommended this book to many people, and most were either big gardeners or horticulturists. Our book club was a different mix.
Two of us had horticulture backgrounds, one is a big gardener, one enjoys plants, and one has nothing to do with plants or science. The non-science lover liked it the least at 3.5, but the next up was a 4, then 126.96.36.199 and even a 5! I would definitely recommend this book, if you enjoy plants.