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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Lessons in Chemistry

Hi Book Lovers!

This is a photo of my ERG, which is a rowing machine. Rowing plays a substantial role in the book Lessons in Chemistry, which I'm reviewing today, and I thought you might like to see

what an ERG looks like. Protagonist Elizabeth Zott, has an ERG in her living room, however she wouldn't have had a clamp for an iPad, which in my estimation would make it a bit less fun to use. I love listening to books or watching films as I "row," and it's great exercise!

Reading Lessons in Chemistry I was reminded of the 1970s movie Network, in which Peter Finch plays an anchorman imploring his audience to yell out their windows, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

But Elizabeth Zott never wanted to become a television personality. She is a brilliant chemist living in the 1960s that had to take a TV gig teaching women to cook because of the rampant sexism and misogyny that has derailed her career since her college days. In defiance of her producers, Zott refuses to to patronize, demean, or infantilize women, and imparts her knowledge of the chemistry of cooking, along with her life advice to women:

"Cooking is chemistry...and chemistry is life. Your ability to change everything--including yourself--starts here."

Zott has a precocious daughter, Madeline, a prescient dog named six-thirty, and a troubled but supportive neighbor Harriet, who all help mitigate her difficulties after Mad's father, also an ingenious chemist, dies in a freak accident.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is delightful summer reading for anyone who enjoys strong women characters, cooking, science or rowing. I loved both the audiobook and the printed hardcover, and though it was longer than some novels, I didn't want it to end. I am betting someone will turn this title into an episodic show or feature film. But the books are always better, aren't they?

“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun.”

Leave a comment below and tell us what you are reading!

Hardcover 400 pages, Audiobook 12 hours


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