Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Chemistry text minus memorization?

  1. Nov 10, 2006 #1

    I'm in high school (11th grade) in India and I'm looking for a good organic chemistry text. I'm very bad at memorizing reactions (memorizing anything, for that matter) but good at grasping physical concepts and math, like structure and quantum mechanics. I'm looking for a text that will allow me to predict reactions by understanding the underlying principles rather than memorize what happens when you mix this with that, even if that means I've to learn the principles at a somewhat advanced level. What will be a good text for me?

    The IIT-JEE syllabus covers Nomenclature, isomerism, reactive intermediates (carbocations, carboanions, free radicals), alkane, alkene, alkyne, benzene, phenol, alkyl hallides, grignard reactions, alcohol, ether, carboxylic acids, amines, haloarenes, carbohydrates, amino acids and peptides, polymers, reaction mechanisms (homolytic and heterolytic bond cleavage, electrophilic addition, electrophilic substitution, nucleophilic substitution, nucleophilic addition).

    I see that Morrison and Boyd is everywhere universally recommended. Will it suit my purposes?

    I will also like to know if there is such a book (with emphasis away from memorisation) on inorganic chemistry, though our teacher (a professional researcher specialising in inorganic reaction mechanism who is eternally trying to convince us that inorganic chemistry is as interesting and as logical as organic) laments that no such textbooks are yet available.

    Thanks very much for your help.

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2006 #2
    No reccomendations? Will Peter Sykes be good?
  4. Nov 13, 2006 #3
    I used Morrison and Boyd for undergrad Organic. -- It's "the" text supposely. I unfortunately can't remember the advanced inorganic text we used (I DID really like that one) and my texts are currently boxed up for a move... I'll get back to you in about a month? What I remember most about the classes was that I took them from particularly good instructors... who were challenging but very good at explaining things.

    Maybe it's because I'm a physics person, but I always viewed the primary interest in organic chemistry to be synthetic chemistry -- MAKING things -- so sometimes caring less about the governing principles, so much as caring that there were certain reactions and techiques that did work to make things. That inherently has a bit of memorization (for instance WHAT catalyst to use, and WHAT a grignards reagent is... :yuck: ). Now I RESPECT organic chemists... because they really have a purpose -- they design a structure and go out and make it... actually I probably think they have the most FUN of all chemists (the labs for the classes were really cool)... but I just know I'm a physics type of gal. I still use Morrison and Boyd as a reference, but mostly that's when I need to determine IUPAC names of molecules. :wink:
  5. Nov 14, 2006 #4
    Thanks. I guess you could call me a physics type of guy, that's why I'm more interested in structural features and underlying principles of chemistry rather than memorising what happens when.
  6. Nov 14, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Another vote for Morrison and Boyd from me. It's a nice book, and the principles, mechanism, etc are very nicely explained. For inorganic, I used the book by J.D Lee. Although, inorganic chemistry involved a lot more memorization. Also, if you want a text on physical chemistry, have a look at the one by Atkins and De Paula. IMHO, that book is very very good.
  7. Nov 14, 2006 #6
    I do have Atkins De Paula, but since it does not cover from the grounds-up like most physics texts do, it's of very limited use to me.

    It seems Morrisson and Boyd is a general purpose text and I'll be getting it, but does it provide the mechanistic approach I'm looking for or is it more focused towards the memorise reactions of functional groups type?
  8. Nov 16, 2006 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    The mechanism of most reactions are described in detail, with evidence. I think that M & B will suit your requirements very well. Also, many of the exercise problems are very challenging. So, I think it'll definitely help for your exam.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook