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15 Books Like Lessons in Chemistry

Books Like Lessons in Chemistry

Are you craving more of the intellectual wit, compelling characters, and captivating narratives found in “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus? 

This blog post is your guide to discovering similar literary gems that will delight and amaze you with their unique blend of science, humor, and heartful stories.

From unconventional heroines to unconventional plots, these promise to satisfy your appetite for engaging storytelling while leaving you pondering the wonders of life—both in the lab and in life. 

Let’s begin.

Books Like Lessons in Chemistry

1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This novel follows Bernadette Fox, a once-famous architect who has become something of a recluse in her Seattle home, much to the confusion of her Microsoft-guru husband and straight-A student daughter. When Bernadette disappears prior to a family trip to Antarctica, her daughter, Bee, compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence to find her mother. The book is a hilarious and touching exploration of genius, success, and the power of mother-daughter relationships.

Major Similarities: Like “Lessons in Chemistry,” “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” features a strong, unconventional female protagonist who challenges societal norms. Both books blend humor with moments of emotional depth, offering insights into the struggles and triumphs of their lead characters.

2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman, a genetics professor with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, decides it’s time he found a wife. His methodical approach to finding the perfect partner, the Wife Project, is hilariously derailed when he meets Rosie Jarman, who is looking for her biological father. This charming novel is a heartwarming and humorous take on love, life, and the importance of accepting oneself and others.

Major Similarities: Both “The Rosie Project” and “Lessons in Chemistry” involve protagonists with scientific backgrounds navigating their personal lives with a logical approach. The blend of humor, romance, and social commentary on expectations and individuality connects both stories.

3. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This novel introduces Eleanor Oliphant, a socially awkward and routine-bound woman whose life changes when she and a coworker save an elderly man who has fallen on the sidewalk. The experience sparks a transformation in Eleanor, leading her to confront her painful past and open her heart to new possibilities. It’s a story about the importance of friendship, kindness, and human connection.

Major Similarities: Like “Lessons in Chemistry,” this novel features a quirky, intelligent female protagonist who doesn’t fit into conventional societal boxes. Both books address themes of loneliness, the impact of the past on the present, and the transformative power of human connection.

4. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over and see everything anew. This novel is a love letter to the world of books, and it’s filled with the joy of discovering new titles and the community that books can create.

Major Similarities: Similar to “Lessons in Chemistry,” “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” explores themes of starting over, finding love in unexpected places, and the transformative power of literature and science. Both novels feature protagonists who find renewed purpose and passion in their lives through unexpected events.

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This novel tells the story of aging Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo, who is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. As Evelyn’s story of ambition, love, and friendship unfolds, Monique discovers that her own life intersects with Evelyn’s in tragic and irreversible ways.

Major Similarities: While “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “Lessons in Chemistry” differ in setting, both books feature strong, complex female protagonists who break barriers and defy societal expectations. Themes of ambition, love, and the cost of success are central to both narratives.

6. The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

Susan Green is like a cactus: independent, resilient, and has her life perfectly organized. But when her mother dies and she discovers she’s about to become a mother herself, Susan’s perfectly structured life starts to spiral out of control. “The Cactus” is a witty, insightful novel about learning to let go and discovering the unpredictable joys of life.

Major Similarities: “The Cactus” and “Lessons in Chemistry” both feature heroines who pride themselves on their independence and control over their lives. The stories delve into themes of family, unexpected life changes, and the challenges of opening up to new experiences and relationships.

7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Narrated by a 15-year-old autistic boy named Christopher, this novel starts with the mystery of who murdered the neighbor’s dog. Christopher’s investigation leads him on a journey that turns his world upside-down. This book offers a unique perspective on life, family, and the importance of understanding the world from different viewpoints.

Major Similarities: Both “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “Lessons in Chemistry” feature protagonists with a scientific outlook on life, dealing with complex human emotions and relationships. The novels offer insights into the minds of characters who see the world differently, blending humor with poignant moments.

8. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Nina Hill’s life may be utterly predictable, but she likes it that way. A job at a bookstore, trivia nights, and a cat are all she needs. However, her world is turned upside down when she discovers a large family she never knew she had. As she navigates these new relationships, Nina learns that life’s unpredictabilities can also be its greatest joys.

Major Similarities: Both “The Bookish Life of Nina Hill” and “Lessons in Chemistry” focus on women whose orderly lives are disrupted, leading to personal growth and unexpected paths. The books celebrate the joy of intellectual pursuits, whether in science or literature, and the importance of finding one’s community and place in the world.

This list combines a mix of humor, emotional depth, and strong female characters who navigate life’s challenges with resilience and intelligence, much like Elizabeth Zott in “Lessons in Chemistry.” Each book, while unique in its setting and story, shares themes of self-discovery, breaking societal norms, and the transformative power of love and friendship.

9. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

This novel spans several decades in the lives of six friends who meet at a summer camp for the arts in the 1970s. As they grow from teenagers into adults, their friendships are tested by success, envy, and the complexities of life and art. “The Interestings” examines how talents evolve over time and the nature of envy and fulfillment, friendship, and love in a changing world.

Major Similarities: Like “Lessons in Chemistry,” “The Interestings” explores the dynamics of relationships and personal growth over time, with a keen eye on how individuals navigate the gap between their youthful aspirations and adult realities. Both novels address the theme of pursuing one’s passion despite societal norms and expectations.

10. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin, but she determines to make the best of things when she ends up taking her sister’s all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii with her sworn enemy, Ethan Thomas. What starts as a forced proximity arrangement quickly turns into something more, challenging both Olive’s and Ethan’s perceptions of luck, love, and each other.

Major Similarities: “The Unhoneymooners” and “Lessons in Chemistry” both feature strong, intelligent female protagonists navigating unusual circumstances. The blend of humor, romance, and personal discovery in both books makes them engaging reads about overcoming obstacles and finding love in unexpected places.

11. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This novel tells the story of a family keeping a big secret: their youngest son, Claude, wants to be a girl when he grows up. The family navigates this profound truth with deep love and bravery, relocating and reinventing their lives to protect their child. It’s a story about transformations, acceptance, and the challenges of parenting outside societal norms.

Major Similarities: Both “This Is How It Always Is” and “Lessons in Chemistry” tackle themes of challenging societal expectations and norms. They explore the lengths to which individuals and families will go for love and acceptance, showcasing the strength and resilience of their characters in the face of adversity.

12. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, between life and death, where she is given the chance to experience how her life might have been if she had made different choices. Through her journeys, Nora explores the idea of what truly makes life fulfilling, confronting her regrets and discovering what is genuinely important.

Major Similarities: “The Midnight Library” and “Lessons in Chemistry” both explore the concept of life’s possibilities and the impact of choices on personal happiness and fulfillment. Both novels are thought-provoking, offering insights into self-discovery and the paths not taken.

13. Circe by Madeline Miller

This novel reimagines the life of Circe, a minor goddess in Greek mythology, transforming her into a powerful protagonist with a voice of her own. Exiled by Zeus to a deserted island, Circe hones her witchcraft and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology. It’s a tale of family, power, and finding oneself in a world where gods and humans intersect.

Major Similarities: “Circe” and “Lessons in Chemistry” both feature strong female leads who defy the expectations placed upon them by their respective societies. Both books delve into themes of independence, empowerment, and the struggle to carve out a space in a world that seeks to define them.

14. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Set in a seemingly idyllic Australian community, this novel weaves the stories of three women, each at a crossroads in her life. As their lives intertwine, secrets are uncovered, leading to a shocking tragedy at a school trivia night. “Big Little Lies” is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Major Similarities: Like “Lessons in Chemistry,” “Big Little Lies” features complex female characters navigating the challenges of personal and familial relationships. Both novels blend humor with serious themes, including the impact of secrets and societal expectations on individuals’ lives.

15. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This darkly humorous novel follows Korede, whose sister Ayoola has a disturbing habit of killing her boyfriends. Torn between family loyalty and her own moral compass, Korede must decide where her loyalties lie when Ayoola starts dating the doctor at the hospital where Korede works, whom she has secretly loved.

Major Similarities: “My Sister, the Serial Killer” and “Lessons in Chemistry” both offer unique, compelling narratives centered around strong female characters with unconventional stories. Both novels blend elements of humor and darkness, exploring themes of loyalty, ethics, and the complexities of familial bonds.

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