Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER • Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel” (The New York Times Book Review) and “witty, sometimes hilarious . . . the Catch-22 of early feminism.” (Stephen King, via Twitter)

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek

“The most delightful novel I read this year . . . fresh and surprising . . . I laughed out loud!” —Philip Galanes, The New York Times

"A unique heroine . . . you'll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional." —Seattle Times

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.  

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus Book Reviews

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I loved this book and the struggle the main character went through as a woman during that time period, but her being atheist was just over the top for me. Even the reverend character ended up not really believing in God, as well as a couple other characters. Science and God go hand in hand but this book works so hard to convince people otherwise. Sigh.

This book is a d*mn shame. I felt like the story was off to a great start if it hadn’t been for the horrifying gratuitous rape scene described in such detail that read more like erotic literature than sexual violence. This needs a trigger warning. I wouldn’t have bought it had I known.

What a journey. So well written that I felt everything Elizabeth went through as if it were my own.

I really had a hard time embracing Zott in the beginning. She just didn’t have a personality from the 50’s. I found some aspects of her family ridiculous and almost didn’t finish the book. Luckily, I kept with it but the ending was predictable….with a slight twist. Still a good read with some tears based on her ability to inspire other women to pursue their dreams.

The plot was very unrealistic. Didn’t know I purchased an atheist book until it was too late.

Best book I’ve read this year!

I hadn’t read a book (leisurely) in over 2 years. I took a chance and chose to read Lessons on Chemistry and it gave me the right amount of inspiration I needed at this point in my academic journey, my personal journey as a black WOMAN growing in my career, and a Christian trying to figure out how to navigate this new normal we call the 21st century. I don’t want to sound cliche but it was the perfect book I needed to read — call it fate. Great read!

excellent, so inspiring to hear truth

Simply loved this book. It is fresh, poignant, and wise.

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. It’s real and raw and goes into life as a women in a world dominated by men. Elizabeth is an inspiring character that continues to move forward regardless of the obstacle that try to push her down and take away her success.

An entertaining read, enjoyed the shifts in perspective but slightly too long. Trigger warning for SA and suicide!

Very Captivating and enjoyable!

I teach middle school science and Zott is an amazing teacher! She provides a crazy good connection of chemistry to the reality of cooking and life. She inspires me to bring the connectedness to my classes.

Amazing! Original! Scientifically heartwarming!!

Funny, brilliantly written novel - a walk town what it was like to be a woman in science in the 50s, a reminder of how far we came thanks to the courage of women to blaze new trails. Bonus lessons in rowing, chemistry, cooking, life and love. Just a great read. Thanks Apple Books for the recommendation

This book resonates with truth. And it’s so funny!

As a woman who grew up in the 1950’s, I found this story painfully fascinating. I couldn’t put it down.

Not a bad read. Loved the beginning but slowly lost interest throughout the progression of the book.

This book appears to have been written to entertain Me personally. It worked!

This was an entertaining read although a little cheesy at times. No regrets reading and would recommend to anyone. The dog is the best character.

I loved this book from the get-go. The characters are all relatable, the dialogue quick and witty. Intelligently written in many ways. I laughed throughout the story, and felt the pain as well. I can see this as a tv series and would definitely watch it. Netflix, are you paying attention? Option it!

This novel draws you in and you stay, rooting for Elizabeth and her friends. I couldn’t put this one down.

A look back to the 1950’s when men were men and women were afraid. A great story about a scientist who won’t give up when people tell her she can’t because she’s a woman.

Good read but too sacharine for my taste .

This book is by far the best book I have ever read!!!!!

You won’t be disappointed read this love story with many turns and lots of wisdom..

Bonnie Garmus has written a poignant, insightful, rebellious, uplifting, haunting, theological, political manifesto for not just women, but for all the men willing to take up our cause and move us toward CHANGE. Thank you from the bottom of my heart-mind....

I couldn’t put it down. So witty and sweet but also addresses very real issues relating to women and equality. Absolutely brilliant!

I liked the book. I thought the ending was abrupt. Interesting read

Nothing I don’t like about this one. I love the characters, and how the author writes eloquently without stepping up too much. Flawless read!

Hated for it to end.

Heart and real life packaged in a great story. The first book I have read in years that I couldn’t put down until it was done.

Loved it! Entertaining, refreshing and a superb read.

Amazing! Just solved Christmas gifts for all my female family members and friends. Truth with humor and compelling narrative.

Captivating, funny, sad and ultimately a joyful take on what it means to be a mom, a scientist, a lover and a human being.

You have to suspend belief but I loved this book.

Life changing- could not put it down….

A captivating read. Smart, thoughtful and so much more

From the first page, the reader is captured by Elizabeth Zott. Her story is heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time. I loved every moment!

Fall 2022: the climate deterioration, our political fabric disintegrating, the social landscape of conflict, intolerance and hatred makes depression settle in and not budge. Lessons in Chemistry brought levity, treated poignant, tragic issues with surgical clarity and the clever prose was genuine relief. Loved every minute spent reading it.

One of the best books I have read EVER

Brilliantly written. Intellectually the best read in many years. Humor. YES!! What’s next my new most favorite artist author?

I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud at times and then you would get hit with a gut wrenching scene. I loved how the characters were intertwined throughout the story. Excellent book!

I loved how this book put the gender disparity of the post WW2 years in sharp detail. It made me think of my own mother who worked in a man’s world as a design engineer at a steel mill. I have become very proud of my mom due to this book as it presented a point of view I had never considered

I had a hard time putting this book down! It was so engaging…A combination of intelligence, laugh out loud humor and the stark reminder of how far we have come, but how much farther we have to go. Please, please write another book ASAP! Heather Gray, Long Beach, California

Interesting read with the right balance of science and love

A must read that is as true today as it was in the 60s.

Loved. Couldn’t put it down after I got past the slower beginning. Highly recommend.

Heartwarmingly complicated I adored this book

Zott’s saga is a familiar story told with a slant that suddenly puts everything into focus. As the story progressed I fervently wished Miss Zoltan was real. She became my heroine) after just the first few pages. It was eye-opening and funny at the same time. Be prepared to learn some important lessons about your personal chemistry: telling the truth is painful, embarrassing or scary ; it is the cost of life and the incandescence of the soul. Kudos to the author for creativity and enlightenment. In her concise story , she wove a fascinating plot with artful characters coming together like abiogenesis. I am looking forward to more works from Bonnie Garmus.

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Best book I’ve read in years! I couldn’t put it down. I happened across it when boarding my flight and I’m so glad I did. The twists and turns keep you yearning for more.

One of the best books I have read in awhile.

A very clever funny book about an uncompromising woman decades ahead of her time. Loved it

Loved every page! Not sure I’ve said that about a book before—but know it’s been too long if I have.

Read it in two days poignant, funny, devastating.

Having several degrees did not protect one from unscrupulous men.

Wonderful book, start to finish. Like any myth or fairytale, truth shines in the hardships through time over and again, in this story it’s a happy understanding of hard beginnings to the middle and better of an end.

Loved it! Made me laugh, made me cry, made me crazy!

Excellent book!! I could not put it down. I have not read a good book like this in months.

Excellent writing and plot. Couldn’t put it down. Rich and intelligent. Found myself admiring the main characters. Even the dog. We’ll done!

It was a good read. Would recommend

A very original and charming feminist novel. The characters have soul and spirit and it’s just quirky enough. Absolutely one of my favorite books this year.

A well written story that invokes passion, courage, and truth. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time, highly recommended.

I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, who I told I didn’t know if I could finish it because the beginning was so sad. But I stuck with it and I’m so glad I did. We all have a lot to learn from Elizabeth Zott!

This book is inspiring, beautiful, at times heartbreaking and I could not put it down. Read it in one sitting.

It was hard to get going but once you commit it is a great read. I enjoyed it.

Made the subject of chemistry quite entertaining.

Could you not have dropped the "God Is Nonexistent" bomb earlier in the sample, so readers would know what they're buying? Or perhaps had at least one admirable character represent the millions of humans on this earth who do believe in the existence of God? The narrow-minded view of the main character is actually anything but scientific...a shame because the other aspects of her are so relatable and even admirable.

I could barely put it down. It’s a fun read which deftly handles Elizabeth’s hurdles and her ultimate triumph over the misogyny in her field.

I rarely write reviews. Well I have never written a review; I guess that counts as rarely. I have never laughed, cried or just thought about a book as I have Lessons in Chemistry. I am a military sci-fi buff, but I have always read widely and believed the best books are about people and their relationships. This book is amongst the best I have read.

You won’t be able to either. I was once told by a graduate school interviewer that he would accept anyone in Pants I.e. only men before he would accept me. I had the last laugh because years later I went for my MBA at MIT and was a very successful investment banker.

This is a quick and poignant read that every woman … and many men … will appreciate! Why is the journey to equality so hard?

Well written, great story about resilience, perseverance and reality.

Loved the characters and the actual lessons in chemistry. I also thought the story was very engaging.

I loved this book. It was a Book club recommendation. I had noted it before but might not have read it had it not been on our list to read. The protagonist Elizabeth is simply heroic. The book is written in the 1950s and yet so many of the topics are still relevant. It is a fun book to read but with some turn of events that were heartbreaking. It isn’t a literature but it had depth. I would recommend this book without hesitation. May be more enjoyable for Women since so many of the topics are relevant to our struggle.

A very stupid book. The story itself was fine, cute even, but it was exaggerated and the setting in the 60s completely unrealistic and unnecessary.

Enlightened men, too. In a world where “hilarious” appears on too many book jackets, this book really is, with moments of upset and many twists. The story is told by an omniscient narrator who selectively and deftly gets into the heads of a few key characters, including one very smart dog. Fantastic writing.

I read this book in less than 3 days. The only reason it took me that long is because of sleep and work. Well written, entertaining, thoughtful, inspiring work!

What a charming and delightful read. As the husband of an amazing woman and father of 3 daughters in their early 20’s I will suggest they all read the story of Elizabeth Zott. She is wonderful!

Beautiful story, inspiring, wise and so very timely for women (tragically, even in 2022). Much more than a beach read, I loved it. Every page.

I loved everything about this book. Lots of sad parts, but an equal amount of wit and humor. Excellent storytelling!

Excellent read! A look at the status of women in the 50’s and 60’s in America….a fresh look at the mans world of science. But the story will also ellicit laughter and thought provoking insights.

I loved this book! The characters were so interesting and unique, and the way the story wound around them was lots of fun. Sorry that the story had to end.

A fun, feel good story that makes you laugh, cry, and think

I like to read non-fiction books that evoke some emotion. As a female and professional, I found myself feeling angry for the constant and consistent discrimination Elizabeth encountered. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination is not non-fiction. I think the author did a great job of depicting the challenges that a professional woman faced during that time period. The story line could have been a real one, only names changed to protect the innocent!

Intelligent, hilarious and moving. It was a pleasure to read.

This is a fabulous book. Could not put it down.

The best book I’ve read in a long time. Simple, yet intriguing. Heartwarming, funny and real.

This was well written and interesting from beginning to end.

An amazing, funny, intelligent read. I’m so happy I found it!

Fun, witty, and holds your attention till the end. Definitely worth reading ! Great characters.

Loved it

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, quirky and despite tragedy and injustice they remain love able and persevere. Tidy, satisfying ending and an extremely entertaining summer read.

Loved it.

This book highlights the trials and tribulations that women had to endure in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s yet it is very uplifting! Characters are very likable and funny!

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I’m recommending it to all my friends. Can’t stop thinking about it!

Great plot, character development, flow!

We read this for our book club (to be discussed in a few days). I really couldn’t put it down. Not to give any spoilers, once I got about midway through the book, I was laughing out loud for many chapters. Love when that happens with a book. The author certainly has a way with dialogue. I’m going to recommend this book to all my friends. Looking forward to future novels by this author.

I read 250 pages of this book, and I didn’t care what happened to the characters

Didn’t want the book to end. To all the young aspiring female scientists take a page or two out of this book for inspiration.

Bonnie Garmus - Lessons in Chemistry Comments

About Bonnie Garmus Wiki

Bonnie Garmus is an American author and former copywriter. Garmus is from Seattle. She has worked as a copywriter and creative director in the US, and in Switzerland and Colombia.In 2022, her debut novel, Lessons in Chemistry was published. The Guardian noted its "polished, funny, thought-provoking story ... it's hard to believe it's a debut". The New York Times commented on its "entertaining subplots and witty dialogue". As of January 2022, Lessons in Chemistry had been sold into 35 territories and has a television adaptation under way.Garmus is married, with two daughters, and lives in London. She enjoys open water swimming and has rowed competitively. Publications Lessons in Chemistry, Doubleday, 2022References.

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