skygiants: Mary Lennox from the Secret Garden opening the garden door (garden)
[personal profile] skygiants
I have a confession: I am not a science person. It's an odd kind of mental block. I always liked history, and I actually also liked math, and it always seemed like therefore I should be able to master science too -- I mean, science is basically just math + story, right? And I'm good at both those things! But somehow I could never even build a mousetrap car that worked correctly, let alone wrapping my head around the more complex aspects of physics or biology. My glass-ceiling-shattering neurologist mother was always nice enough not to seem too obviously disappointed by this.

Anyway, Lab Girl -- a memoir about geochemist/geobiologist Hope Jahren's career in science, interspersed with descriptions of the scientific weirdness of botany -- was our book club pick a few months back. I didn't actually make it to that round of book club, but I read the book later on anyway.

...and I'm going to be honest: the book is compellingly written, botany is undeniably weird and interesting when looked at objectively, and yet when reading this book, I still found myself impatient to shove through the straight botany sections to get to the actual memoir story. I'm sorry! Science writing is cool, I just find it personally challenging, I don't know what's wrong with me.

("But just a couple weeks ago you were going on about how cool the alien linguistic morphology was in Embassytown" -- yes I know and for some reason it doesn't apply when it's made-up science! I don't know why this is!!! I guess I just find it more impressive when other humans come up with this stuff than when evolution/God/forces beyond our control do??? "My brain could do that! Except, of course, it doesn't.")

....and once again when trying to write about a memoir I find myself writing a post that's more about me than the book. It's a solid memoir! Jahren is pulling together a couple of story-threads -- one about being a female scientist, and then one again about being a female scientist with severe manic-depression, and then wrapped into that is the story of her lifelong partnership with her highly eccentric lab buddy/platonic life partner Bill. (I believe there was a Yuletide request related to this.) I'm glad I read the book, but I think I remain confident in my conclusion that biology was not the career for me.

Date: 2017-03-05 11:52 pm (UTC)
kore: Sam Wilson and Jane foster kiss as Cap and Thor (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
-- Bipolar disorder? I find that interesting. But....well, yeah, botany.

Date: 2017-03-06 02:23 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Science writing is cool, I just find it personally challenging, I don't know what's wrong with me.

Would you like science writing recommendations or will that make you feel defensive and/or harangued?

[edit] I would like to assume it's obvious that I don't think anything is wrong with you, but in case it needs saying.
Edited Date: 2017-03-06 02:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-06 07:35 pm (UTC)
genarti: ([misc] mundus librorum)
From: [personal profile] genarti
It always amuses me how you and I have extremely similar tastes in a lot of ways... and then once in a while go in TOTALLY OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS. Humans are hit or miss, but weird botany is totally my jam! (I'm actually curious whether you think I'd like it, given that.)

Date: 2017-03-09 03:34 am (UTC)
obopolsk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] obopolsk
I have been wanting to read this! I find science fascinating and love reading science writing...but was never very good at either understanding/doing science or writing about it myself. I think maybe I'm more interested in how people do science and what leads them to ask certain questions or try certain approaches than in how the actual science works.


skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)

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