Lessons in Chemistry
By Bonnie Garmus
Review by Lucy (Chemistry)
I will admit that Lessons in Chemistry technically isn’t a chemistry book, but it is an extremely good read. Set in 1960s California, it tells the story of a struggling female chemist in a male-dominated world who becomes a cooking show host, endeavouring to teach her audience the science behind the meals they are making.
The reason for recommending this book is because, while it was not written by a chemist, it definitely gives people an interest in chemistry. This was recommended to me by my mum, a woman who has never studied chemistry in her life and it made her interested in the topic I was planning to study. There is certainly a theme of feminism throughout the book as it focuses on some of the hardships women faced in the 1960s while balancing this with comedy and tragedy. It’s a tearjerker, for sure.
Lessons in Chemistry made me realise a very obvious fact: chemistry plays an important role in cooking. The ingredients used, the time taken to cook the meal, the temperature of the oven, and how well the batter is mixed all play a key role in cooking and parallels can be made for practical work. Cooking is effectively an experiment.
This book may be a little different from the usual books recommended, but its lack of academic content makes it exceptionally versatile. Whether you wish to study chemistry at university or English, this is a book you can read without any problems. You never know, it may give you an interest in chemistry you never knew you had.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus