51 Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Questions & Snack Ideas

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Find 51 best book club questions and snack ideas for Bonnie Garmus’ debut novel Lessons in Chemistry.

Lessons in Chemistry is a delightful debut novel about intelligent chemist Elizabeth Zott who is determined to live life on her own terms in 1960s California. 

Lessons in Chemistry is a great book club read as it touches on various themes such as feminism, misogyny, etc. So explore the best discussion-worthy book club questions and sumptuous snack ideas for Lessons in Chemistry!

Lessons in Chemistry Synopsis

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus follows Elizabeth Zott, a female chemist constantly overlooked by her male colleagues. 

However, despite facing sexism discrimination in college and the workplace, Elizabeth is a wonderfully self-assured heroine who never lets anybody intimidate her. Then she meets Nobel–prize nominated Calvin Evans, and unexpectedly falls in love with him. But their romance is short-lived as soon after Elizabeth found herself to be a single mother. While she struggles to make a living as a chemist, she decides to take the opportunity to be a host of a cooking show, Supper at Six, determined to host it the Zott style. This opportunity allows her to use her scientific knowledge in an unusual way and to challenge the status quo. Read my full review of Lessons in Chemistry.


51 Best Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Questions: 

  1. Discuss the relevance of the title- Lessons in Chemistry. How does it relate to the story?
  2. Discuss the success of Lessons in Chemistry. 
  3. What is your impression of Garmus’ writing style in Lessons in Chemistry? Despite dealing with serious subject matter, do you find dark humor and comedy make the story more enjoyable?
  4. Sometimes I think,” she said slowly, that if a man were to spend a day being a woman in America, he wouldn’t make it past noon.” Discuss the significance of this quote from the 1960s to the present day.
  5. How do you think Elizabeth’s relationship with her brother shaped her professional and personal life?
  6. Discuss the significance of the opening paragraph of the book: Back in 1961, when women wore shirtwaist dresses and joined garden clubs and drove legions of children around in seat belt-less cars without giving it a second thought; back before anyone knew there’d even be a sixties movement, much less one that its participants would spend the next sixty years chronicling; back when the big wars were over and the secret wars had just begun and people were starting to think fresh and believe everything was possible, the thirty-year-old mother of Madeline Zott rose before dawn every morning and felt certain of just one thing: her life was over. Despite that certainty, she made her way to the lab to pack her daughter’s lunch.
  1. How do you find the setting of the novel? Do you think the story would differ if it were set in a contemporary period?
  2. What’s your interpretation of the meet-cute story Elizabeth and Calvin? Why do you think the author chose to put the character in a cringe-worthy situation?
  3. Discuss the theme of gender inequality in the workplace explored in Lessons in Chemistry.What are some of the underlying factors that contribute to this ongoing problem in the modern-day work environment? 
  4. What are your thoughts on Elizabeth and Calvin’’s close relationship despite each carrying their own secrets? 
  5. Discuss the relevance of Elizabeth Zott’s profession. Why do you think Garmus chose the profession of chemist for the protagonist?  
  6.  How do you think Elizabeth’s life would have been if she had been a doctor or a lawyer in the 1960s?
  7. What are your thoughts on Elizabeth Zott’s career at the Hastings Research Institute? Do you think her future would have been different if Calvin was still alive?
  8. Compare the characteristics of Elizabeth Zott, Mrs. Sloane, and Miss Frask
  9. Discuss Elizabeth Zott’s use of scientific calculation in cooking. Do you consider cooking to be more of an art or a science?
  10. What do you think rowling symbolizes in Lessons in Chemistry 
  11. How do you compare Elizabeth and Calvin’s childhood? If they had met as children, do you think they would have been best friends?
  1. Author Bonnie Garmus is an open-water swimmer and a rower. Do you believe Garmus may have drawn inspiration from her own personal experiences in creating the story and characters in Lessons in Chemistry?
  2. What do you think of the impact of Elizabeth’s pregnancy on her career and personal life?
  3. If Elizabeth Zott were not a chemist, how would you describe her life as a single mother in the 1960s? What challenges do you think she may have faced raising a child on her own? 
  4. Discuss  Elizabeth Zott’s parenting style in Lessons in Chemistry. Do you think her unconventional approach was necessary? 
  5. Describe Elizabeth and Mad’s life if Calvin were alive. In what ways do you think it would have been similar or different?
  6. Compare the characters of Calvin Evans and Walter Pine. 
  7. What do you think of Six Thirty? How has Garmus portrayed him so differently compared to other novels you have read? 
  8. How do you think Elizabeth Zott’s life would have been different if she didn’t have a helpful companion like Mrs. Sloane? 
  9. What role do you think societal expectations play in Elizabeth’s life and career choices?
  10. Discuss Elizabeth’s character development and growth throughout the novel. How has it impacted your perception of her?
  11. What do you think about the show ‘Supper at Six”? Have you heard about any similar shows from that time period? 
  12. How do you compare Elizabeth’s roles as a cooking show host, chemist, and mother? 
  13. What do you think of Mad? Do you think she was special? 
  14. Discuss the relevance of Mad’s family tree. 
  15. Do you think author Garmus portrayed Elizabeth only as a strong, self-assured character, avoiding Elizabeth’s s weaknesses? 
  16. What role do you think the Life Magazine article played in Elizabeth Zott’s life?
  17. Discuss the relationship between Mad and Reverend Wakely.
  18. Is it possible that Garmus was inspired by Roald Dahl’s Matilda when creating the characters of Mad and Mrs. Mudford? Discuss the relevance of this potential influence. 
  19. What are your thoughts on Avery Parker? Do you think her life and experience represent the lives of many women during that period?   
  20. How do you find the portrayal of male characters in Lessons in Chemistry? Do you believe that most men in their 50s and 60s held misogyny views? 
  21. Some readers find that Elizabeth Zott’s monologues were somewhat unrealistic, what’s your comment on that?
  22. If you were in Elizabeth’s situation during that period, what decisions do you think you may or may not have made?  
  23. Do you expect to find many dark and explicit themes in the narrative? How do you think that has impacted your overall impression of the book? 
  24. How do you think faith and religion are represented in Lessons in Chemistry? Discuss it in the context of setting the story. 
  25. Harriet thought it was wrong not to believe in God. It lacked humility. In her opinion, believing in God was required, like brushing teeth or wearing underwear.- Discuss the perspectives of Harriet and Elizabeth Zott towards religion on the basis of this quote. 
  26. Stephen King described Lessons in Chemistry as ‘ witty, sometimes hilarious…the Catch-22 of early feminism’. Do you agree with that? 
  27. What are the top three aspects of Lessons in Chemistry that you find most enjoyable? 
  28. To what extent does the unpredictable nature of life reflect on Elizabeth’s own life? 
  29. What’s your opinion on the Lessons in Chemistry TV show starring Brie Larson? Do you think Larson is the perfect choice?
  30. What message does the book convey about the importance of pursuing one’s passion amidst challenges? 
  31. Discuss famous feminist protagonists of literature. 
  32. Do you think Lessons in Chemistry is a relatable story for women in the 21st century?
  33. Lessons in Chemistry is the debut novel of Bonnie Garmus. What’s your overall review of her writing style?
  34. Compare Lessons in Chemistry to other historical fiction set in 1960s.

Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Snack Ideas

In Lessons in Chemistry , Elizabeth  Mott is known for creating recipes bursting with flavors and textures. So take your book club snacks to the next level and tantalize your taste buds with some of her delicious creations. 

More Book Club Ideas and Activities

  • Find the best Lessons in Chemistry book club soundtrack Lessons in Chemistry playlist
  • You can get a science coffee mug, planter bulb glass vase, or science party tableware for a chemistry-themed book club decor.  
  • Discuss book club members’ favorite cooking show
  • Conduct a fun color change chemical experiment. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Lessons in Chemistry: 

  • What is Lesson in Chemistry about?

Lessons in Chemistry follows a talented chemist who becomes a Tv show chef after becoming a single young, single mother in the late 50s and early 60s. 

  • What are the trigger warnings Lessons in Chemistry?

The novel Lessons in Chemistry touches on several sensitive topics such as misogyny, attempted rape & sexual assault, workplace sexual harassment, child abuse mentioned, and car accidents. 

  • Is Lessons in Chemistry a good book?

Lessons in Chemistry is a dazzling debut novel by Bonnie Harmus. With Laugh-out-loud funny moments and, a shrewdly brilliant protagonist, incredible characters it’s a must-read novel. 

  • Is Lessons in Chemistry a true story?

In an interview author, Bonnie Harmus reveals that All the characters in Lessons in Chemistry are entirely fictional except Six-Thirty, the dog in the story. It is based on her old dog, Friday. 

  • Why is Lessons in Chemistry so popular?

Lessons in Chemistry is so popular for its realistic portrayal of the life of women in the late 1950s and early 60s. This witty and propulsive novel about a feminist hero is great book to read in 2023. Check my review of Lessons in Chemistry. . 

  • Is Lessons in Chemistry a romance?

Lessons in Chemistry has an important romance subplot in it.

  • How old should you be to read Lessons in Chemistry?

The recommended age for Lessons in Chemistry is readers 18 years and up.

  • Is Lessons in Chemistry becoming a movie?

Lessons in Chemistry is going to be adapted into a television drama in 2023 on Apple TV+. Brie Larson stars as Elizabeth Zott and Lewis Pullman as Calvin Evans. 

  • How old is Madeline in Lessons in Chemistry?

Madeline Zott is Five years old

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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: Review & Summary

15 Books Like Lessons in Chemistry

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Stephy George
Stephy George

Hi I am Stephy ! I became a bookworm in my late twenties. So I created this little corner of books online to share my love of reading with YOU! I want to help you find the best books to read so you won’t ever have to worry about your next read!

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