Best general chemistry book guide (simplified concepts)

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“All things are made of atoms.”

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Although the quote mentioned above comes from a world-renowned physicist, I think it sums up the beauty – and relevance – of chemistry perfectly.

If you’re even remotely as fascinated by this as I am, you should get the best chemistry book for your future studies, one that will inspire you, rather than bore you to death – and I’m going to help you find one!




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**Below, you’ll find more detailed review, but you can also click links above to see current prices and read customer’s reviews on Amazon.

College Chemistry: What’s It All About?

Okay, this part might get a bit confusing, but studying chemistry means going beyond the “general knowledge,” and studying all the different sub-disciplines, too:

Don’t let this scare you, though. You’ll probably have a general chemistry course, to begin with, too, so don’t worry – it will all make sense eventually!

Ace It: 3 Study Tips For Chemistry Students

Before we move any further, I’d like you to remember that learning chemistry takes time and dedication – partial efforts won’t cut it here.

Break the course material down into small sections, focus on mastering them one at a time, and try to implement these study tips for chemistry students as often as possible.

It’s a slow process, and a tedious one, and it takes daily practice, but it’s one of the surest ways to fully understand fundamental concepts of chemistry.

1. Start With Understanding, Not Memorizing

Chemistry is, by all means, a complex science that will require you to have plenty of valuable information carved into your long-term memory.

With each lesson, new information will be thrown at you, but please, don’t bother with memorizing everything right away.

Instead, focus on understanding fundamental concepts – the whys and hows – first, and leave memorization for later.

2. Develop Great Problem-Solving Skills

Now, you’re probably wondering:

What’s the best way to develop these problem-solving skills?

Well, solving a lot of practice problems, of course!

3. You’re A Scientist In The Making – Ask Questions

Remember; always ask questions – and never settle for “just because.”

Don’t only read your course material but actively engage the book’s ideas, as well.

For instance, these are some of the questions you should ask yourself whenever you have a college chemistry textbook in your hands:

You get the picture!

Things To Consider Before Buying The Best Chemistry Book

Textbooks are expensive – everyone knows that.

Before you begin spending your hard-earned cash left and right, here are some essential things you need to consider:

Will You Keep The Book After You’re Done With The Actual Course?

Here’s the thing:

Some college chemistry textbooks are only “useful” for the duration of the actual course, while others tend to be excellent reference books, too.

Flip through the book if you have the chance, to get an overall feel of what it has to offer – that should help you decide whether the book is worth it or not.

Check If It’s Mandatory

The best way to go about this is to email your professor before the beginning of the course and check which textbooks are necessary course materials.

These things can be pretty pricey. That’s why it’s always better to check which ones are indeed essential for your future studies, rather than to burn a hole in your wallet.

Recommended Vs. Required

Now, there’s a subtle, but critical difference between “required” and “recommended” college chemistry books, which brings me to my next point:

If the book isn’t mandatory, ask yourself if it’s useful enough to buy or not.

New Vs. Used: The Battle Of The Budgets

If you ever went book shopping before – which I honestly hope you did – you’ve probably noticed something interesting:

There’s always a significant difference in price between new and used books, even when the latter is in pristine condition!

Why not use that to your advantage?

I mean, you’re going to have to obtain these college chemistry textbooks anyway, but buying used ones (as long as they fit the course requirements, of course) could save you some serious cash.

Lab Books Have To Be New

And while I’d always recommend a used book as a budget-friendly solution for students, laboratory workbooks have to be brand new.

There are no ifs or buts about it, okay?

Sneaking in a lab book that’s been previously used by another student is a huge no-no – and it might get you into trouble, too!

Best Chemistry Book: My Top 5 Recommendations & Reviews

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for all along:

A list of chemistry books for college students – my top 5 recommendations, that is – complete with in-depth reviews of each!

Chemistry: The Central Science – Best General Chemistry Textbook

Okay, the first one in my round-up of the best books for college-level chemistry is a book that made it all the way to its 14th edition!

I mean, they wouldn’t be printing new editions if the book was no longer considered useful, right?

Anyway, if you’re about to start a two-semester course in general chemistry, this textbook by Theodore E. Brown should become your new best friend and most trusted companion.

The book’s main advantage, besides the fact that it explains all the basic concepts in a student-friendly manner, is that it encourages the practical use of chemistry – for the most part, that is.

Moreover, it features useful sample exercises that not only help you apply the things you learn but develop your problem-solving skills even further, too.

And while most chapters were pretty easy to follow, there are certain parts of the book that could’ve been written in a more understanding – and entertaining – manner. I hate to say it, but it did have its „dry“ parts.

Plus, it’s not the most affordable textbook out there, and buying a new, hardcover edition might cost you a bit more than your college budget could handle.




Chemistry: The Central Science


Organic Chemistry (2nd Edition) – Best Organic Chemistry Book

One of the main reasons why this book is beyond deserving of having its place in my round-up of the best chemistry books is the fact that it addresses a widespread issue most students face when studying chemistry:

The fundamental and deeply-rooted disconnect between learning and applying that knowledge.

Organic Chemistry focuses on more than merely explaining all the concepts you’d typically find in this sort of textbook – every section is followed by a “Skill Builder” problem set, essential for successful implementation of your knowledge.

As a result of that, it’s virtually unmatched when it comes to helping students develop their problem-solving skills!

Here’s where it gets rather apparent how much emphasis is put on skill-development, though:

Two whole chapters are almost entirely devoted to motivating students to apply what they learn and develop the skills needed to succeed in organic chemistry even further.


That’s the key factor missing from college-level chemistry education!

Unfortunately, if you want to check your answers or get any further clarifications, you’ll have to buy the solutions manual separately – and with the book being expensive enough as it is, it will severely impact your budget.





Organic Chemistry (2nd Edition)


Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry – The Only Introduction To Chemistry You’ll Ever Need

As the name already suggests, the next one on my list is a staple for any one-semester course in organic, general, and biological chemistry.

Moreover, I consider it to be one of the best introductory textbooks out there. If you’re trying to grasp the basic concepts, this is the book you should turn to, time and again.

Not only is it well-written and easy to understand but it makes the point to underline the relevance of chemistry in everyday life, as well. That way, you’re not only learning chemistry for the sake of passing exams – you’re learning about its role in the way the world works, too!

More importantly, the idea of real-world application extends to the examples and problem sets, making it easier for students to understand why what they’re learning matters.

The only real issue is the price tag. As you can imagine, a college chemistry textbook like this one doesn’t come cheap – especially when it’s the latest, hardcover edition.

And while it might burn a hole in your pocket, it’s worth every penny:

You won’t find a better introductory chemistry textbook out there!





Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry


Chemistry: A Molecular Approach – Best Student-Friendly Chemistry Book

Even at first glance, it’s evident that this book was written with students in mind.

It’s well organized, and moves from one topic to the next in a clear and sensible way – it goes into detail, but omits them in all the right places, too. The author made it a point to write in an easy-to-understand manner.

And if you’re a visual learner, I’m pretty sure you’ll find this book very easy to master! The eye-catching illustrations, graphs, and other such “demonstrations” all work together to help you understand the whys and hows of chemistry.

On that note, the book is also filled with problem sets of various difficulty levels, from the most basic stuff to cumulative exercises. By the time you’re done with them, you’ll understand the material thoroughly.

One thing I didn’t like – besides the hefty price, that is – was the lack of balance.

Certain areas of the book tend to barely scratch the surface and keep explanations at an elementary level, which will probably leave you wanting more. But at the same time, some chapters will overload you with a vast amount of information you’re supposed to take in at once.





Chemistry: A Molecular Approach


Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change – Understand The Molecular Nature Of The World Around You

Remember that Feynman’s quote I mentioned at the beginning of the article?

“All things are made of atoms.”

Well, this is the book that sums it up better than any other on this list!

Moreover, it’s a general chemistry classic:

Every topic is addressed in great detail, from understanding the atomic structure and the periodic table to general chemistry and chemical reactions, without assuming any prior knowledge, which is something a lot of college-level textbooks struggle to achieve.

Also, every chapter includes not only step-by-step exercises and examples but excellent problem sets, as well. As a result, the book will keep you engaged and motivate you to apply your knowledge, rather than merely memorize the information you’re given.

Oh, and you’ll love the macroscopic-to-microscopic molecular illustrations – as far as the visual appeal goes, this book is virtually unmatched!

That said, Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change isn’t the most budget-friendly textbook out there. But before you turn away, know that it’s still a lot more affordable than most hardcover books you’ll need for your chemistry course – and it’s worth every dime.





Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change


Wrapping It Up

Okay, so, we’ve established that each one of the books included in my round-up is excellent – but which one is the best chemistry book for all you college kids?

Well, as far as my personal favorites go, the Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry seems to be the best one for the job. It’s well written and easy to understand, but most importantly, it shows you why what you’re learning matters and how to apply it everyday life!

What do you think about my choice? Would you go with a different book for your upcoming college chemistry course? Let me know in the comments below!

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