Find thought-provoking Lessons in Chemistry book club questions that are ripe for discussion, as well as book club ideas to have added fun engaging with and about this popular feminist fiction novel by debut author, Bonnie Garmus.
Five out of five stars.
Set in the 1950s-1960s, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a strong, self-assured, self-educated woman who becomes a chemist at a male-dominated research institute. There, she meets and falls in love with another chemist, but life soon leaves her to be a single, jobless mother.
She reluctantly and unexpectedly becomes the star of a hit cooking show on TV, where she is able to intermingle her love of science and challenge women to change the status quo. However, her entire career trajectory is an uphill battle against sexism, both explicit and implicit.
It was one of my own personal favorite books of 2022, particularly as I love an eccentric female protagonist like Elizabeth Zott (She reminded me of one of my favorite literary characters, Bernadette of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Marie Semple).
Since it recently hit the one million books sold mark and became a TV series (a great adaptation that’s definitely worth watching, in my opinion), readers are still picking it up in large numbers (it’s been super popular with readers of The Literary Lifestyle). So, let’s take a closer look at it.
Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Questions
Below are discussion questions for Lessons in Chemistry that you can use at your book club meeting.
(Of note, I have attempted to keep these book club questions as spoiler-free as possible.)
A lot has been said about the cover art for this book (namely that it looks more like a modern romance book than feminist fiction). What are your thoughts on the cover art?
Why do you think Garmus chose the era of the 1950s-1960s as the time period of this story?
How may this story differ if it were not set in Southern California?
Why do you think Garmus chose chemistry as Elizabeth Zott’s profession?
Was it significant that Elizabeth Zott was self-educated?
Discuss the pencil as a symbol in Lessons in Chemistry.
What issues did Elizabeth Zott face in her professional life?
What issues do you think Elizabeth Zott would face in her professional life today?
Discuss the end of Elizabeth Zott’s career at the Hastings Research Institute.
How may Elizabeth Zott’s life have been different if she were a man?
How is Elizabeth Zott similar to and different from other women?
How is Calvin Evans similar to and different from his colleagues?
What do Calvin and Elizabeth see in each other?
How did Calvin’s and Elizabeth’s family backgrounds shape them?
Why do you think Garmus incorporated rowing in Lessons in Chemistry?
Discuss Elizabeth’s and the ther characters’ reactions to her pregnancy.
Were you surprised by the way in which Elizabeth Zott became a single mother?
Describe Elizabeth Zott as a single mother.
What challenges does Elizabeth Zott face as a working single mother?
What challenges may Elizabeth Zott face as a working single mother today?
The name “Six-Thirty” is so unique and memorable. What did you think of the name and the character?
Discuss the roles of various friends in Elizabeth Zott’s life.
Discuss the role of faith and religion in Lessons in Chemistry.
Discuss the significance of a cooking show being Elizabeth Zott’s second career.
Describe the similarities and differences between Elizabeth Zott’s jobs.
Why did “Supper at Six” become a hit?
Discuss the role of the Life Magazine article in Elizabeth Zott’s life.
What are Elizabeth Zott’s strengths?
What are Elizabeth Zott’s values?
Discuss the specific acts of sexism in Lessons in Chemistry.
Can you relate to Elizabeth Zott?
Did any of the circumstances Elizabeth Zott faced surprise you?
Did the ending surprise you?
Why do you think Elizabeth Zott made the choices she did at the end?
Discuss the choices Avery Parker made and why she made them.
What do you think would happen next in Elizabeth Zott’s life?
Do you think Elizabeth Zott’s story reflects reality?
Why is Lessons in Chemistry so popular? (over one million copies sold to date)
Just for fun, share your favorite recipes and/or cooking tips.
What is the theme of Lessons in Chemistry?
Did you take away anything specific about the theme of feminism from Lessons in Chemistry?
Discuss the tv adaptation of Lessons in Chemistry.
Discuss the significance of Bonnie Garmus’s debut novel (Lessons in Chemistry) being published when she was age 64.
Is Lessons in Chemistry worth reading?
Buy Lessons in Chemistry:
Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Ideas
Below are some Lessons in Chemistry food ideas and more to have fun at your book club meeting:
Buy Lessons in Chemistry:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus was an instant book club success, having been selected as a Good Morning America book club pick. It’s since gone on to receive numerous “book of the year” accolades and sell over one million copies worldwide. It’s popular with book club members because it presents a strong protagonist and several feminist topics to discuss regarding what she faced as a single working mother in the 1950s and 1960s in America.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus imparts themes of resilience to overcome misogyny and grief, as well as feminism, single parenthood, and self-actualization in the context of 1950s and 1960s America.
These thought-provoking Lessons in Chemistry book club questions and ideas help you have a meaningful meeting and discussion of the reader-favorite book about feminism in America in the 1950s and 1960s.
It’s also the kind of book you can have a lot of fun with at book club, from watching the adaptation to cooking delectable treats.
Keep the discussion going! Share your thoughts on Lessons in Chemistry or any remaining questions you may have in the comments below.
Buy Lessons in Chemistry: