Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

“Children, set the table. Your Mother needs some time for herself.”

This is a delightful book, full of humor and sharp observations, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a must-read if you like intelligent protagonists, a story of true love and overcoming everything thrown at you. That’s all of us, right?

Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant scientist, a chemist of remarkable intelligence but her advancement in the field is thwarted at every turn. Because it is the late 1950s, Elizabeth faces sexism repeatedly – she is sexually harassed, denied educational opportunities and promotions, paid far less than other, less talented scientists and is expected to get the coffee and run errands for the men at her lab. Her sharp tongue and refusal to back down don’t make her any friends.

And then she meets Calvin. Calvin Evans is also a brilliant scientist and has won many awards and is expected to one day win a Nobel Prize. Everyone treats him deferentially – he is the star of the lab (and brings in lots of donations because of his fame) and he is known to hold a terrible grudge against anyone who crosses him. After a rocky first meeting, the two outcasts discover a true meeting of the minds – finally! someone to discuss science with! – and they fall in love.

Their bubble of happiness and mutual respect ends tragically however and Elizabeth is on her own again, fighting the same battles against prejudice, misogyny and sexism. That is, until her no-nonsense and hyper-efficient attitude catches the eye of a programmer for a local television station. Desperate and impressed by her ability take command and fix things, he hires her to star in a cooking show. And thus, Supper at Six begins.

Elizabeth doesn’t just teach cooking. She’s teaching her viewers chemistry (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”). She does not talk down to her audience. She encourages and expects excellence, reminding her housewife following that they are capable and intelligent and that they must not settle for less.

This is such an excellent book, funny and sweet, sad and bittersweet, uplifting and encouraging wrapped around a protagonist you’ll love and with a very satisfying ending. Highly recommended!


The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

‘Statistics can’t tell us what will happen, they can only tell us what might happen.’ – Christina Lauren, The Soulmate Equation

Christina Lauren’s latest published novel, The Soulmate Equation, is an exploration into love, science, and how the two intertwine. This romantic comedy is a delightful romp about what you would do if your soulmate ended up being the last person you expected them to be.

Jess is a freelance statistician. She has always loved numbers. They make sense to her when nothing else in her life does. A single mother to a young girl named Juno, Jess has managed to make life work with the help of her grandparents and her best friend Fizzy. While she finds fulfillment raising seven-year-old Juno and running stats for her clients, her love life has been basically non-existent. After yet another failed date, Jess decides she doesn’t need to find love to feel complete.

When Jess and Fizzy learn about a new matchmaking company called GeneticAlly whose chief science officer frequents the same coffee shop as them, Fizzy decides they need to discover more about what the company is actually offering. The two are invited to the company’s headquarters where they learn about the science behind GeneticAlly’s new love app. This startup claims to find your soulmate based on DNA compatibility rating thousands of  emotional and biological markers. In a desperate sad moment, Jess spits into the DNADuo kit, sends it in, and promptly forgets about it.

When a notification pings on her phone alerting her that the company has requested a meeting with her, her initial reaction is that they might want her to help running statistics. As soon as she shows up though, it’s clear that there is something else they need to discuss. Jess learns that she has 98% compatibility with another subject in the database, a number that is hard for her to believe to be true. Another item to add to her skepticism: Jess has matched with GeneticAlly’s founder and chief science officer, Dr. River Pena. River seems just as skeptical as her, but the two turn to the numbers to verify what they have been told. After all, numbers never lie.

Jess has a hard time believing that River is her soulmate, mostly because she already knows him. He is the stuck up and stubborn man who has come into the coffee house she frequents for months. How could he be her soulmate?! Genetically has a deal for her though: They will pay her to get to know River. They will expect her to go to events, do interviews, and spend one-on-one time with River. The more time the two spend with each other, the more Jess realizes why River behaves the way he does. The science doesn’t necessarily have to be at odds with the love and emotional aspect of life. River is more than she seems and so is his life’s work.

‘Destiny could also be a choice, she’d realized. To believe or not, to be vulnerable or not, to go all in or not.’ – Christina Lauren, The Soulmate Equation

This book is also available in the following formats: