10 Books Like Lessons in Chemistry

Read about women who challenged the status quo.

books like lessons in chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry, the debut novel of Bonnie Garmus, became an instant smash hit when it was published in early 2022. The story of a young female scientist who is forced out of her job by sexism and ends up becoming a cooking show host inspired millions of readers. It was soon adapted into an acclaimed miniseries for Apple TV+, starring Brie Larson. 

Lessons in Chemistry is a vibrant story of a woman's fight against patriarchal expectations and her radical ways of bringing feminism into the homes of unsuspecting women across the country. If you loved that book, here are ten books focused on women who bucked expectations and carved their own path in a man's world.

the women by kristen hannah, a book like lessons in chemistry

The Women

By Kristin Hannah

Twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath was raised in a sheltered world by her conservative parents, never imagining she could be anything more than a future wife and mother. But it's the '60s, the world is changing, and a new life is calling her. 

When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows in his footsteps. Stuck in a strange land embroiled in war, Frankie must carve out her own path of survival. Every day brings with it new challenges, and there's no guarantee that she or her brother will make it out of the jungle alive.



By Anna Hope

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable best friends who live together on the edge of a common in East London. Their lives are full of sex, art, and parties. Ten years later, things are very different. 

They're living far more mundane lives, ones with faltering careers, crumbling marriages, and a true sense that something is fatally missing. Was this who they were supposed to become? What does it mean to live a meaningful life, and can this trio of friends find that magic once more?

Old Baggage

Old Baggage

By Lissa Evans

Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a jumble-filled cupboard one day, comes across a small wooden club, one she hasn't seen for more than ten years. In her youth, Mattie was part of the Women’s Suffrage Campaign. A militant, she was jailed numerous times, smashed windows, and heckled the Prime Minister. 

Now in her middle age, she wonders if she can revive the best days of her life and find a new passion to dedicate herself to. But her past might catch up with her in more ways than one.

The Taliban Cricket Club

The Taliban Cricket Club

By Timeri N. Murari

Rukhsana is a spirited young journalist working for the Kabul Daily in Afghanistan. She takes care of her ill, widowed mother and her younger brother, Jahan. The infamous Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice summons her with two goals: to threaten the anti-Taliban news reporters and to announce the Taliban’s intention to hold a cricket tournament. 

But no one in Afghanistan even plays cricket—no one, that is, except Rukhsana. If she wins, it could be her and her family's ticket out of the country, but the minister wants to marry Rukhsana, whether she consents to it or not. So, she must become the ultimate cricket coach to her hapless male cousins and hope victory can save them.

The Hearts of Horses

The Hearts of Horses

By Molly Gloss

In the winter of 1917, nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen turns up at George Bliss's ranch looking for a job. Many of his regular hands are off fighting the war, and he glimpses something special in this strong-willed woman who loves and respects horses. 

Martha spends months becoming the ultimate horse whisperer, bringing even the wildest of animals to calm with her sweet tones. Soon enough, the previously skeptical Oregon community welcomes her as one of their own, and despite her best efforts to remain aloof, she finds a sense of purpose and family she's never before had.

The Curious Life of Elizabeth Blackwell

The Curious Life of Elizabeth Blackwell

By Pamela Holmes

Alexander Blackwell captured Elizabeth's heart, even as her parents warned her that he would not make a dependable husband. After they elope, they find lodgings in London and begin to look for work. Before long, though, Alexander is in the Marshalsea, the notorious debtors’ prison, and she is left to fend for herself. 

Alone and penniless, she turns to her engraving and drawing skills to make a living. If she can earn enough money, perhaps she can buy her husband's freedom. Pamela Holmes’ novel is inspired by the true story of Elizabeth Blackwell, a Scottish botanical illustrator. 

Saving St. Germ

Saving St. Germ

By Carol Muske-Dukes

Doctor Esme Charbonneau Tallich has dedicated her life to the story of the universe. She is searching for a TOE, or a Theory of Everything, while working as a professor of molecular biology at the University of Greater California. 

Perhaps the universe has the answers she needs to solve her own messy life: her marriage is a mess, her daughter might be on the spectrum, and a messy custody battle is on the horizon. The closer she comes to the discovery of a grand unified theory, the more those around her seem to be falling apart.

The Heart Specialist

The Heart Specialist

By Claire Holden Rothman

Agnes White, a lonely orphaned girl with a fascination for the morbid, grew up in the shadow of her late father's disgrace and her mother's untimely death. Forced to raise her baby sister Laure on their own, Agnes turned to dissections and anatomy to find herself. 

Medicine isn't meant to be a woman's work, and medical schools in Canada are closed to the likes of her, but she decides to become a physician regardless of what the world tells her she can't do. Throughout it all, questions of her missing father haunt her. One of the only clues in her quest to find him is a strange, misshapen heart in the McGill University pathology museum...

Cover of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

By Gabrielle Zevin

Who would have expected that a romantic drama set in the world of video game development would become one of the biggest books of the 2020s so far? Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, the tenth novel by Gabrielle Zevin, is still on the New York Times bestseller list and the film rights were bought for $2 million! 

Set over the course of several decades, the story follows video game developers Sadie Green and Sam Masur, childhood friends who reunite to develop a game that they hope will make them stars. As they grow, their relationship changes alongside the video game industry, which turns them both into stars. But it comes at a cost.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

By Ruth Barton

Hedy Lamarr was one of the true legends of the golden age of Hollywood, as well as one of the most radical. She she escaped an unhappy marriage with an arms dealer in Austria and starred in an erotic film that caused worldwide scandal. Hollywood made her a star as she worked with the likes of Cecil B. DeMille, but she never felt comfortable in the mold of a mere sex symbol and had grand dreams of changing the world. 

And she did, for her early patents for wireless technology became the blueprint for our modern world! Lamarr's life is a firestorm of divorces, lawsuits, inventions, and celebrity, and it's all covered in Ruth Barton's biography.