11 Books to Read if You Loved Lessons in Chemistry

By Brandon Miller

You don’t need to be a science whiz to deduce the appeal of Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry. The #1 New York Times bestseller follows Elizabeth Zott, a gifted chemist who unexpectedly falls into a new life of motherhood, becomes a TV cooking-show star, and transforms into an early feminist icon in 1960s America. 

Lessons in Chemistry was recently adapted into an Apple TV+ series starring Brie Larson. If all the buzz has you searching for books like Lessons in Chemistry, we’ve got the list for you. The novels below bubble over with witty dialogue, compelling characters, and strong female leads, just like Garmus’s acclaimed novel. 

Beyond That, the Sea

By Laura Spence-Ash

Beyond That, The Sea by Laura Spence-Ash is the perfect follow-up read for fans of Lessons in Chemistry. Both deliver transportive historical fiction narratives with strong female protagonists and explore themes of identity and empowerment. Spence-Ash’s coming-of-age narrative begins in the dark days of World War II, when working-class Londoners Millie and Reginald Thompson make the difficult decision to send their young daughter Beatrix to America so that she might escape the war in Europe. Understandably, Bea is left hurt and confused by the change. As the months go by, however, she begins to thrive in her new life, developing a close relationship with her adoptive family. When the war in Europe ends, Bea’s parents summon her back home, and Bea finds herself caught between two worlds as she strives to find a path of her own. Powerfully told and spanning decades from the 1940s to 1970s, Beyond That, the Sea is a “gorgeous, elegiac novel about loss, family and the complexity of love” (Shelf Awareness).

The Connellys of County Down

By Tracey Lange

Similar to Lessons in Chemistry, Tracey Lange’s The Connellys of County Down explores the meaning of family and finding love in the unlikeliest of places. The acclaimed new novel centers on Tara Connelly, who’s rebuilding her life after a stint in prison. She moves in with her siblings, each of whom has their own issues to sort out, as she strives to get back on her feet and jump-start her career. Along the way, a surprising encounter offers a fresh chance at romance. But when big family secrets begin to slip, the entire Connelly clan is threatened. They’ll need to pull together as a family if they hope to make it out the other side. Lange’s latest is as much about personal struggles and the uncertainties of adulthood as it is about empathy and the healing power of family. For a double dose of family drama, check out Lange’s bestselling debut, We Are the Brennans

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao

By Martha Batalha

Like Lessons in Chemistry, The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao delves into feminism and the meaning of family — and just like Garmus’s novel, Martha Batalha’s book is wildly funny. Invisible Life is set in 1940s Rio de Janeiro, where sisters Euridice and Guida embark on two very different life journeys. When Guida elopes and disappears, Euridice puts her own aspirations on hold to become the ideal wife and mother. But as her restlessness grows, Euridice experiments with a series of secret endeavors to reassert her independence, from flexing her tailoring expertise to creating cookbooks. Things get complicated, however, when Guida returns after many years away, compelling both sisters to work through past mistakes and blaze a fresh path forward.

Olga Dies Dreaming

By Xochitl Gonzalez

We highly recommend Xochitl Gonzalez’s New York Times bestseller Olga Dies Dreaming to fans of Lessons in Chemistry, as both novels capture a distinct sense of place while scrutinizing family dynamics and the societal burdens placed on women. Gonzalez’s novel centers on the Acevedo family in New York City, including brother Pietro, a Brooklyn congressman, and Olga, a wedding planner for NYC’s elite. Raised by their grandmother after their radical mother Blanca took off to fight for a militant political cause, the siblings appear to be thriving in their adult years. But their lives are turned upside down when their absent mother returns. And despite being a high-end wedding planner for others, Olga is struggling to find a love of her own. When she does meet someone, it forces family secrets to the surface. 

Carrie Soto Is Back

By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author behind a suite of bestsellers, from Daisy Jones & the Six, which was made into an Amazon Prime series, to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which will soon be a movie. Like Lessons in Chemistry, Carrie Soto Is Back follows a fiercely determined woman in a clear time and place — in this case, the high-stakes world of professional tennis in the 1990s. Tennis superstar Carrie Soto is six years into her retirement when she decides to return to the game. At 37 years old, reclaiming the throne will be a challenge — and the sports world certainly doesn’t think she’ll succeed. But Carrie is determined to prove she’s still the greatest, even if it means enlisting a former love interest, Bowe Huntley, to help her get through one final season.

Great Circle

By Maggie Shipstead

Fans of Lessons in Chemistry are sure to dig this historical fiction gem by bestselling author Maggie Shipstead, which “puts a smartly feminist spin on old-fashioned adventure” (Entertainment Weekly). Great Circle is set in dual time periods, with the first thread focusing on siblings Marian and Jamie Graves, who were rescued from a sinking ship in 1914 and raised by an uncle in Montana. With the help of a wealthy bootlegger, Marian becomes a gifted pilot who mysteriously disappears over Antarctica. In the second timeline, Hadley Baxter — disillusioned with celebrity and its limitations — is cast to play Marian in a film, which sets her on her own path of self-discovery as she immerses herself in the character. 

Romantic Comedy

By Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld’s Romantic Comedy earned rave reviews from Oprah Daily and The New York Times Book Review and was a Reese’s Book Club pick. We wholeheartedly recommend that fans of Lessons in Chemistry add it to their TBR stack. The funny book follows Sally Milz, a writer for a late-night sketch comedy show. Milz has a brilliant comedic mind and a less-than-stellar love life. When a male co-worker starts dating a gorgeous guest host, Sally takes out her annoyance in a sketch that pokes fun at average-looking guys dating beautiful women. Shortly thereafter, a pop superstar arrives to host the show and hits it off with Sally. Could the unlikely romance usually found in fiction be possible after all? 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

By Gabrielle Zevin

In Lessons in Chemistry, Elizabeth Zott rises to the top and rattles the status quo of mid-20th-century America. In Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, we meet Sadie Green, an equally indomitable woman who achieves greatness in her field. Sadie and Sam, her friend since childhood, excel in the video game industry with their game Ichigo. The pair experience extreme success but also struggle both professionally and personally, all while balancing their creative ambitions with their desire for love. Centering on a platonic male–female friendship and spanning three decades, Gabrielle Zevin’s bestselling novel about second chances is “delightful and absorbing” (The New York Times). 

Remarkably Bright Creatures

By Shelby Van Pelt

While Shelby Van Pelt’s Remarkably Bright Creatures evokes a quieter, more reflective mood than Lessons in Chemistry, both books are suffused with bighearted charm and warmth. Van Pelt’s novel centers on Tova Sullivan, a widow who works the night shift as a janitor at Sowell Bay Aquarium. Thirty years prior, Tova’s son, Erik, vanished in Puget Sound, and she’s never found out what happened to him. Enter Marcellus, the aquarium’s giant octopus. After Tova and Marcellus forge a remarkable bond, the eight-armed sea creature takes on the role of detective to help uncover the answers that have eluded Tova for years. 

The Vibrant Years

By Sonali Dev

In The Vibrant Years, Sonali Dev blends humor with pathos in an unforgettable book about friendship, family, motherhood, and embracing who you are. The story follows three generations of women as they grapple with intersecting life challenges. Bindu Desai is shocked to discover she’s inherited a million dollars. The windfall is both a godsend and a curse for the 65-year-old, as it threatens to expose long-buried family secrets. Aly, Bindu’s former daughter-in-law, is hoping Bindu’s inheritance will trigger a major lifestyle change for her, both professionally and personally. Meanwhile, Cullie, Aly’s daughter, is at risk of losing her star status in the tech world if she doesn’t deliver on her latest venture: a nonexistent dating app that she pitched to investors in a panic. “Bursting with humor, banter, and cringeworthy first dates” (Mindy Kaling), The Vibrant Years is a joy. Fans of Lessons of Chemistry are sure to adore this poignant and heartwarming narrative.

Hello Beautiful

By Ann Napolitano

We round out our list of books like Lessons in Chemistry with Hello Beautiful, an Oprah Book Club pick and New York Times bestseller by Ann Napolitano. Like Lessons in Chemistry, Hello Beautiful is a compelling novel about family, love, sacrifice, and ambition. It’s also a bit like Little Women, as it revolves around four sisters with deeply different temperaments. This includes the ambitious Julia Padavano, who falls for her near-opposite, William Waters, as well as Julia’s sisters: Sylvie, Cecilia, and Emeline. William finds that he enjoys the endearing chaos of the Padavano household. But when secrets from his dark past emerge, they threaten his future with Julia as well as her bond with her sisters. 

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