A Must-Read and Must-Watch: ‘Lessons in Chemistry’

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Celia Cooksey

I first learned of the book Lessons in Chemistry at a dinner organized by a visiting colleague. She was coming to the city to which I had recently moved and arranged dinner while in town with a few others. A group of professional women, all at different stages of our lives and some meeting for the first time, we were able to easily connect. We shared a dinner discussing our choices to have or not have children, how that shaped our careers, with insightful observations across generations. It was a memorable night, and this is a memorable book.

Good storytelling is intoxicating, transporting you to another world, and leaving an impact. Lessons in Chemistry, a novel written by Bonnie Garmus, was published in 2021 and became wildly popular and a book club favorite.  Set in the 1960s, the story revolves around a young woman named Elizabeth Zott, who is a brilliant scientist struggling to navigate the challenges of being a woman in the male-dominated field of chemistry. The book explores themes of ambition, love, and societal expectations, offering a deep look into the complexities of gender dynamics in the scientific community during that era.

The book is surging in popularity again as it is now a new series on Apple+ starring Brie Larson. While I tend to be a “the book is always better” kind of person, I love to watch any interpretation of a beloved text. There isn’t a Shakespearean-inspired film I haven’t rewatched at least thrice, and the production value alone of this adaptation is worth the time. Thus far, the show has deviated from the book in a few ways, but the series is unfolding now, so readers are curious to see how the changes will play out in the end.

The book plucked my thoughtful strings, reminding me of the women who have made an impact along the way in equitable treatment in the workplace. How soon we can sometimes forget how things were and are still in some ways.

Lessons in Chemistry is often praised by critics for its engaging storytelling and well-developed characters, as well as its humor. Many readers appreciate the way the author delves into the societal challenges and gender dynamics of the 1960s, offering a nuanced perspective on the struggles faced by women in the scientific community during that time. The novel’s exploration of complex relationships, coupled with its vivid depiction of the scientific world, has resonated with many readers, making it a compelling and thought-provoking read.

If you’re looking for a new slice of entertainment, you can’t go wrong with this excellent read, and compelling watch. Lessons in Chemistry is popular for a reason, so join in the fun and catch up!

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