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Dive in to the best books like Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry
If you loved this book and are wondering what to read next, you’re in luck.
In this blog post, I’ve compiled a list of 15 books that share similar themes with Lessons in Chemistry, including feminism, girlhood, loss, and unwavering determination.
Besides, these compelling books from the lists also feature protagonists who will remind you of Elizabeth Zott and even Six Thirty.
Lessons in Chemistry Synopsis
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. This 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. However, 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. Read my review of Lessons in Chemistry.
Best Books Like Lessons in Chemistry
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Humor (2012)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a humorous and heartwarming story that you will absolutely love to read after Lessons in Chemistry.
The story follows the protagonist, Bernadette Fox, an eccentric and brilliant architect.
However, having been worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, she disappears. Bernadette is very much like Elizabeth Zott in my opinion, she is witty and sharp. Regardless of society’s expectations, Bernadette is determined to live life on her own terms.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones’ Diary is one of the best contemporary novels concerned with feminism.
The novel chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a thirty-year-old single working woman living in London. Although the book was published in 1996, the themes of the novel are still relevant in contemporary Western societies.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
- New York Times Best Seller
- Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Fiction (2022)
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a coming-of-age novel that follows the lives of two teenage misfits, Sam Masu, and Sadie Green.
One fateful summer, their lives collide unexpectedly, and the art they create together changes the course of their lives forever. As the story spans over 30 years, it delves deep into themes of grief, loss, and creativity.
Similar to Lessons in Chemistry, the novel sheds light on the harsh reality of sexism and the challenges faced by women in tech.
Just like Elizabeth Zott, Sadie Green struggles to be recognized for her work of brilliance due to extreme sexism in her male-dominated field.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
- A 2020 Audie winner – best female narrator
- A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick
I can’t say I have found many similarities between Lessons in Chemistry and Nothing to See Here in terms of plot apart from the theme of parenthood.
However, I do find that both Bonnie Garmus and Kevin Wilson have crafted darkly humorous yet emotionally impactful stories. Each author has masterfully created unconventional characters and placed them in unique situations.
I absolutely enjoyed the story of Lilian, who is hired to care for twins who have the unusual ability to spontaneously burst into fire.
While Nothing To See Here is certainly bizarre and entertaining, it also offers a poignant commentary on the tribulations experienced by those who do not conform to societal expectations.
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
I absolutely loved Lessons in Chemistry for its portrayal of feminism through the character of Elizabeth Zott.
Not only was she a skilled chemist but also an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. So if you are looking for similar works, The Women’s Room by Marilyn French is a must-read feminist novel. The book has been known to awaken both women and men to the issues of gender inequality. Set in the early 1960s, like Lessons in Chemistry, The Women’s Room follows the transformation of Mira Ward and her circle as they navigate the impact of the women’s movement on their lives.
The Women’s Room is a poignant reminder of the vital role that feminism and the Women’s Movement played in shaping American society.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
- A New York Times Bestseller
- Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fiction (2018)
If you want to read feminist fiction with a similar tone and writing style as Lessons in Chemistry, The Female Persuasion is an excellent pick.
This coming-of-age novel is a modern feminist masterpiece that explores the relationship between young, idealistic Greer Kadetsky and her passingly famous feminist mentor, Faith Frank.
The Female Persuasion is also a spry satire that examines the themes of self-worth, womanhood, ambition, and the struggle for equality. It’s fascinating to see the interweaving of ideas of older and younger feminists.
The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha
It’s hard to miss striking similarities between the cover art of The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao and Lessons in Chemistry.
Unlike Garmu’s novel though, this book has not one but two fierce female protagonists.
This delightful debut, brimming with wry humor follows the lives of two sisters, Euridice Gusmao and Guida Gusmao, and their bold rebellion against the patriarchy in 1940s Brazil. With smart prose and sharp wit, author Marta Batalha takes on women’s issues and weaves a captivating multigenerational novel.
Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett
Set against the backdrop of a small town in New Hampshire, Unlikely Animals is a touching novel that chronicles the journey of young Emma Starling as she returns to her hometown to care for her dying father, under the strangest of circumstances.
This tragicomic novel delves into familial expectations, imperfect friendships, and the complexities of dealing with grief and loss. And the best part is that there is a wonderful dog much like Six-Thirty from Lessons in Chemistry.
Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- New York Times Bestseller
- Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Historical Fiction (2022)
I am a great fan of TaylorJenkin’s books. Her latest novel Carrie Soto Is Back follows a former tennis player, Carrie Soto who decides to come out of retirement after watching her record be taken from her by Nicki Chan.
At 37 years old, Carrie determined to train under her father in an attempt to reclaim her record.
The novel explores Carrie’s glamorous public life as well as vulnerable and emotional moments as she strives for one last epic season. Carrie is a fierce and self-assured female protagonist who is determined to pave her own way in a competitive environment.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
- New York Times Bestseller
- Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Romance (2022)
Next comes a rom-com novel that’s sure to capture your heart just like Lessons in Chemistry did! Emily Henry’s Book Lover is about Nora Stephens, a successful literary agent living in New York, and Charlie Lastra, an editor with whom she’s had a bit of a rough patch. But when Nora’s sister Libby convinces her to travel to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August, she has no idea that she is about to cross paths with Charlie more than once.
With plenty of humor and heartwarming moments woven throughout the story, Book Lover is a charming exploration of self-discovery and personal growth.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
- A New York Times Bestseller!
- A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
- Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fiction (2022)
- Nominee for Best Debut Novel (2022)
Books featuring animals always hold a special place in my heart, and Bonnie Garmu’s Lessons in Chemistry has given me the most lovable animal character ever- Six-thirty. So, if you’re anything like me you will enjoy this heartwarming and poignant novel Remarkably Bright Creatures.
The book follows three main characters: Tova, a 70-year-old cleaning lady at the aquarium who is coping with the loss of her husband and the disappearance of her son; Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who loves to escape to other tanks at night; and Cameron, a new employee, and a struggling young man.
With its witty and quirky style, Remarkably Bright Creatures is a novel that will make you feel optimistic, even in the face of darkness.
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
- A New York Times Best Seller
- A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick
- Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2020)
- Nominee for Best Debut Novel (2020)
The Henna Artist is a fascinating one, as it chronicles the life of a single woman in India during a similar time period to that of Lessons in Chemistry.
Set in India, the book explores the themes of tradition, identity, and women’s empowerment.
The protagonist, Lakshmi, is a henna artist who has escaped an abusive marriage and is trying to start a new life for herself in 1950s India. She must navigate the challenges of social expectations, gender roles, and cultural norms as she pursues her dreams and finds her true self.
I read The Henna Artist before delving into Lessons in Chemistry, so while reading about Elizabeth’s story, I couldn’t help but sense the similarities in the lives of women like Lakshmi in India during that time period, if not more difficult.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
- New York Times Bestseller
- A Good Morning America Book Club Pick!
- Named the Best Book of the Year by NPR!
- Named a Notable Book of the Year by the Washington Post!
- Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2021)
The Personal Librarian tells the remarkable story of Belle da Costa Greene, a black woman who navigated the world of library science, with intelligence, style, and wit.
Just as Elizabeth Zott had to sacrifice a lot to live as a single mother, Belle has to endure great hardships for the protection of her family and her legacy. The Personal Librarian is conceived as a brave story of race, class, and one woman’s struggle to live authentically.
Additionally, the book also comments on Black American history and the Black women’s movement.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
- A New York Times “TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2022”
- An Oprah’s Book Club Selection
- An Instant New York Times Bestseller
- An Instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller
- A #1 Washington Post Bestseller
- Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fiction (2022)
Demon Copperhead is a funny survivor tale that reimagines Dickens’ classic novel in modern-day, rural America. We follow a young boy who is born into a world of struggle and hardship in the mountains of southern Appalachia.
He is raised by a teenage single mother in a cramped trailer with no resources to speak of. His only assets are his good looks and unrelenting determination to survive. Kingsolver’s writing style creates a propulsive reading experience, leaving you energized and laughing at times.
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
- Best Book of the Year by NPR
- Best Fiction Book of the Year by the Christian Science Monitor.
- Finalist for the Kirkus Prize.
Florence Gordon is the final book on the list. We have a captivating story that is sure to resonate with readers of all ages.
Our protagonist is a seventy-five-year-old feminist icon who has lived life on her own terms. Florence is brilliant, and cantankerous, and has earned the right to be left alone to write her memoir and shape her legacy.
However, just as she is beginning to write her memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas.
Get started with these 15 best novels that are just like Lessons in Chemistry!
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