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

What is the best starter book to learn chemistry?

  1. Mar 17, 2010 #1
    A friend of mine is interested in chemistry and has an upcoming birthday. I want to get her a starter book but personally have no idea where to start. If anyone could refer me something it would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for something that would outline the basics and really show her weather or not it is a field she would be interested in pursuing a career in. Thanks again for any input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2010 #2
    My favorite introductory chemistry book is Zumdahl's "Chemistry". Any edition will do. It provides a clear and good introduction to what would be taught in an introductory class.

    But if you want a book that will get her excited about chemistry, maybe this wouldn't be the best choice.
  4. Mar 18, 2010 #3
    I would advise any book by Joe Schwarcz if they are just getting into Chemistry and want some fun reading.

    If they want something a little bit more advanced, but not too advanced i.e AS Level, go for books by John Emsley.

    If they are at A2/Uni standard get 'Why Chemical Reactions Happen', but i can't remember who it is by.
  5. Mar 18, 2010 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  6. Mar 18, 2010 #5
    I used Zumdahl too back in the day.

    Linus Pauling's General Chemistry is really good, though there is some much higher level math in that book. If you have a decent math and physics background, I'd recommend that one.
  7. Mar 21, 2010 #6
    This is kind of the thing I'm looking for, something that will give her some fun while reading. Are there any particular books you would recommend? Something at a very basic level. And thank you to everyone for your responses.
  8. Mar 21, 2010 #7
    The 4 I enjoyed most by Joe Schwarcz were -

    The Genie In The Bottle
    The Fly In The Ointment
    That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles
    Radar, Hula-Hoops and Playful Pigs

    All of which have 60-70 mini anecdotes about the chemistry of normal life.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook