Lessons in Chemistry

By Bonnie Garmus,

Book cover of Lessons in Chemistry

Book description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • 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…

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Why read it?

56 authors picked Lessons in Chemistry as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I did not expect this book to be a road trip book. But my wife said she wanted to listen to it, so we did on a long drive to and from Colorado. I was wrong. Who would have guessed that a debut novel about a chemist who becomes a 1960s star of a television cooking show would be so captivating?

Garmus does a wonderful job of making two science geeks really human and likable. It also brought a new realization of what it must have been like for women in the era in which I grew up. Her story…

From Bill's list on time travel on lonely roads.

This book has one of the most magnificently assured openings I’ve ever read!

The rhythm and pace of the prose are just sublime. I was a big fan of the sitcom Bewitched, set in the same era, and I always imagined Elizabeth Zott as looking like Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha. Everything is so vivid and precise in Garmus’ world, but like Bewitched, there’s magic there.

I love how she effortlessly weaves different themes, subjects, and environments - chemistry, television, rowing, and academia - without making it anything but superbly entertaining. Bonnie Garmus thoroughly deserves the success that…

I read every page with a smile on my face. The only time I wasn’t smiling, I was laughing out loud. It was quirky.

The storyline was one of the most unlikely I’ve ever read, which, along with the odd characters, made it so funny.

Once into the book, the unusual title is perfectly accurate but not in the way I first thought.

Those People Behind Us

By Mary Camarillo,

Book cover of Those People Behind Us

Mary Camarillo Author Of Those People Behind Us

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Who am I?

Author Novelist Music Lover Reader Traveler Cat servant

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Those People Behind Us is set in the summer of 2017, post-Trump election and pre-pandemic. The story takes place in the fictional city of Wellington Beach, California, a suburban coastal town increasingly divided by politics, protests, and escalating housing prices. These divisions change the lives of five neighbors--a real estate agent, an ex-con, a Vietnam vet, a teenage boy, and an aerobics teacher.

These characters care for elderly parents and rebellious teens and struggle with loss, loneliness, grief, and financial worries. They are also all searching for community in a neighborhood where no one can agree on who belongs. In the end, each neighbor discovers that, despite their differences, they are more connected than any of them would have imagined.

Those People Behind Us

By Mary Camarillo,

What is this book about?

It's the summer of 2017 in Wellington Beach, California, a suburban coastal town increasingly divided by politics, protests, and escalating housing prices-divisions that change the lives of five neighbors.

Longtime resident and real estate agent Lisa Kensington juggles her job, her shopaholic husband, a mother-in-law who knows how to push her buttons, and teenage children with ideas of their own, all while trying to hold on to her own dreams. Her neighbor Ray Gorman is a haunted Vietnam vet who is also caring for his aging mother. Keith Nelson, an ex-con, lives in his car, parked around the corner from…

This book is a riveting, wish-fulfillment 1960’s-based novel I found to be a glorious, entertaining escape from the real world of 2024.

Overall, it was fun to immerse myself in the world of a strong-willed, brilliant, and (sometimes ornery) mind and soul as that of female scientist, Elizabeth Zott. The descriptions of chemistry were original and spot-on. Although some of Zott’s dialogue seemed a tad unrealistic and overwrought at times, I self-reminded that the words of complicated women/movers/shakers/trailblazers often are.

I think this book will stand the test of time and serve as inspiration for many young readers who are…

While this book deals with very serious topics like misogyny, sexual harassment, and the sexist treatment of women in male-dominated workplaces, it has such an inspiring character in Elizabeth Zott, that the book is very uplifting and joyous, as well as being laugh-out-loud funny in places.

It’s set in 1960s California and it’s about the experiences of a brilliant female chemist whose work is continually overlooked, leading her as a single mother to present a cooking show on commercial television that is informed by her chemistry knowledge.

The show becomes immensely popular with the largely female audience and inspires women…

This is one of my absolute favorite works of fiction.

It features the life of Elizabeth Zott, a bad-ass scientist growing up in the 60’s, who experiences sexual violence and abuse from the men who did not want a woman working in science. But Elizabeth never stops, and is unwavering in her love for chemistry, eventually becoming a TV chef who communicates recipes through science.

Elizabeth’s dog, six thirty, narrating part of the story is a lovely addition. Even though Elizabeth is fictional, her handling of the abuse and negative media attention was inspirational to me. Bonnie Gamus is a…

From Jo's list on women rocking math and science.

This novel is surprisingly fun to read despite tackling very real issues of sexism and assault that women in science face. It upends stereotypes about scientists and housewives and mothers and cooking shows in delightfully witty ways.

At the heart of it all is Elizabeth Zott—a charismatic chemist-turned-tv-star whose brilliance and humor make her a uniquely zany character. Her struggles against sexism in science seemed maddeningly familiar despite the novel being set in the ’60s.

That makes Elizabeth's journey from being dismissed to becoming a force in her field all the more empowering and entertaining. This book is a…

Elizabeth Zott reminded me of my brilliant grandmother—a woman who was Phi Beta Kappa in college, had a masters degree, and spoke French fluently.

Despite all this, my grandmother’s opportunities were limited—because she was a woman. Not to say that she didn’t make the most of her amazing life. But what else could she have accomplished had society not been so limiting? 

Which is why I loved Elizabeth Zott so much. Bonnie Garmus’s hilariously sharp-minded and sharp-tongued protagonist—who would have been my grandmother’s contemporary—did everything she could to overcome the stupidity of societal norms and blaze a trail.

I enjoyed…

While this novel isn’t about rowing, it includes rowing.

The rowing scenes add an interesting dimension to the relationship between the two main characters, who are both chemists. Rowing for them is more than a form of exercise; it draws them closer together and helps them deal with stress and grief. Rowing becomes a key connection between the main characters, especially after one of them dies.

As someone who has used rowing to recover from alcohol, process my mother’s death, and work through various life stressors, this book resonated.

From Maura's list on rowing.

I LOVE this book! I have always loved a good romance, and Elizabeth Zott and Calvin Evans take it to soulmate level even while she never married, intended to be childless, and is a dedicated chemist in the 1960s (though her dream of getting a Ph.D. was horribly interrupted).

As a single mother, she supports all women, whether they work inside or outside of the home, saying, “Use the laws of chemistry and change the status quo.” 

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