Recommend a good basic book on Biology?

  1. Hi, I have been looking through amazon all night reading reviews and I am baffled about which book I need :confused:

    I study Computer Science at bachelor level and recently got an interest into biology(not sure which kind). I want to be able to read an article or a forum's post on for example DNA and evolution and understand all the buzzwords like enzymes, chromosomes, DNA, RNA, mutations etc. I have taken some biology at elementary school but I don't remember much.

    Is there a book with simple words and illustrations that can make me understand all these things? Probably something that doesn't use words that are not explained in the book. Something not too thick and costly is also a plus.
    James M likes this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

  4. Use free courses or, if you only want a BASIC, fundamental introduction to biology, I'd recommend these books:

    Audesirk, Biology: Life on Earth

    Starr, Taggart, Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life

    Note that both of them are quite basic, if you want a more complex introductory biology book you should look up for Solomon or Campbell's Biology
  5. Free courseware is good but I already spend a lot of my time in front of the computer so would prefer something I can read when I am in the toilet or on the couch.

    The two books mentioned look good but not cheap. I have started considering maybe buying an ebook reader instead and just download a bunch of biology books..
  6. I recently got into bioinformatics/genomics with a minimal (i.e. non-existent) background in biology.

    If you're interested in learning more about genetics I'd recommend The Cartoon Guide to Genetics for a very basic introduction to most of the big terms. It's a short and entertaining read. For a more comprehensive understanding, I'd recommend Molecular Biology of the Gene by Watson et al. I really liked the introductory chapter, it starts from scratch and goes through the history of genetics. I didn't know anything about biology and I didn't feel lost at all, there was little assumed knowledge besides some basic knowledge of chemistry and cell structure. Also, I always found the later chapters to be more than detailed enough for my needs. It's quite a hefty read though and can get dry and boring.

    I might be a little biased as I was able to borrow these two out of my library so price wasn't a factor.
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