Best 5 Biology Textbooks of 2021

The Top 5 Biology Textbooks [2021 Edition]

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Biology is the study of living organisms, in a general sense. Those studying Biology in depth would take specialized courses, like Genetics, Marine Biology, or Botany. Consequently, students using the textbooks listed would most likely be high school students or undergraduates. Studying the natural sciences can be challenging, but rewarding, if you enhance your learning with the right materials. We have curated a list of the top 5 Biology textbooks in 2021.

5 Best Biology Textbooks of all time

1. Campbell Biology Textbook, 11th Edition

To engage learners in developing a deeper understanding of biology, the 12th Edition of Campbell Biology challenges them to apply their knowledge and skills to a variety of new hands-on activities and exercises in both the text and online.

Campbell Biology is one of the best-selling and most widely-used textbooks for college-level Biology courses. What sets this textbook apart from its counterparts is its clear and engaging narrative, superior skills instruction, innovative use of art and photos, and fully integrated media resources to enhance both teaching and learning.

This textbook has been rated the best Biology textbook on numerous lists and is widely recognized as the standard for Biology courses in the last decade. The layout, language, and overall content of Campbell Biology lends itself to the engagement and information retention of its readers. Read more user reviews at Amazon.

Pro’s

  • All authors are either practicing Biologists or professors
  • In-depth explanations and numerous visual aids for all concepts
  • Practice quizzes at the end of each
  • Widely used and recognized as a standard for Biology courses
  • Highly reviewed by readers

Con’s

  • Access to the companion multimedia resources require an additional purchase
  • In-depth explanations may be too difficult for beginners, as well as students not strong in the sciences, to understand

2. Molecular Biology of the Cell Textbook, 6th Edition

As the amount of information in Biology expands dramatically, it becomes increasingly important for textbooks to digest this vast amount of scientific knowledge into concise principles and concepts. Dubbed as “the bible of the natural world”, Molecular Biology of the Cell accomplishes this goal with clear writing and beautiful illustrations. The Sixth Edition of this textbook has been extensively revised and updated with the latest research in cell biology, and it provides a designed framework for teaching and learning.

Unlike most Biology textbooks, Molecular Biology of the Cell places an emphasis not only on what we know, but how we know it. In this textbook, written for upper-level graduate and post-undergraduate students, the authors seek to present concepts in a way that both motivates and inspires students apply them in biological further study.

Molecular Biology of the Cell dives into cell biology with facts and diagrams, and moves to real-life, and work-place application, with research studies and social context. Students interested in pursuing careers that require a focus in cell biology can use this textbook as a resource in many ways. Users rated this textbook very highly and is among the top-rated Biology textbooks for graduate study and post-graduate self-study. Read more user reviews at Amazon.

Pro’s:

  • Lower price than most graduate study textbooks
  • Recommended for further self-study in cell biology and reference in Biology career pathways
  • In-depth explanations, case studies, and research evaluations on all concepts
  • Links work-place and textbook study in social context
  • Easy to understand, while still being easy to understand and diving into complex concepts

Con’s:

  • Written specifically for grad students, so very difficult for beginners for grasp the concepts
  • Some technical issues reported with e-book version and video codes
  • Published in 2014 so some information may be outdated since the field changes daily
  • 6th edition had to edit out a lot of figures from the 5th edition to print updated text
  • One of the heavier textbooks (almost 7 pounds and 13 inches thick)

3. Biology Textbook by Eldra Solomon et al, 11th Edition

Biology 11th Edition has often been described as the best major’s text for studying the subject. Written for undergraduate intro level Biology courses, the Biology-practicing authors of this textbook intend for its reader to pursue a major, and career, in Biology. The layout of the text is structured as a tour guide for the reader through the fundamentals of Biology.

Working like a built-in study guide, the integrated learning system in Biology 11th Edition guides the student through the material, starting with key concepts for each chapter and learning objectives for each section. Students can then reinforce their understanding of the learning objectives with chapter summaries, followed by knowledge tests, before moving onto the next concept. The authors of Biology 11th Edition made information retention the aim of this textbook, with a plethora of opportunities for testing one’s knowledge. Read more user reviews at Amazon.

Pro’s:

  • Review quizzes at the end of every chapter
  • In-depth explanations for all concepts, along with chapter summaries for information retention
  • Great for students who intend on majoring in Biology
  • One of the most student-friendly introductory Biology textbooks

Con’s:

  • Must purchase another product to get solutions to the review quizzes
  • Users tend to prefer the 10th edition to the 11th
  • One of the more expensive textbooks in the field

4. Prentice Hall: Biology

Biology is a comprehensive text for an introduction to biology for any high school level student. The writers included some humorous content to make it more entertaining, and was written in a teenager-friendly manner. It is also suitable for students below high school age, with a fascination for biology. Biology has full-color pages to help visual learners with memorization, which is a large part of learning biology. The text also contains helpful study hints, reading strategies, science activities, and related topics of study to help students succeed. Science experiments can be viewed in the online resources to keep the information fresh and fun.

The textbook contains informative and challenging material to keep the reader interested. Worksheets are available for each section that cater to a range of learning levels. Biology’s online resources are helpful for in-class, virtual, or a homeschool education, so all students can succeed. It contains enough material for two years of biology education at the high school level. The information is also an excellent resource for re-learning material prior to taking a college-level Biology course. This text also delves into the career possibilities for the budding Biologist. Read more user reviews at Amazon.

Pro’s:

  • Cheaper than some of the other Biology textbooks
  • Contains online resources to assist with learning
  • Writing style is geared toward high school students
  • Concept of evolution is addressed but not a focal topic, which is preferred by some Christian families
  • Large variety of images and figures make this book ideal for visual learners

Con’s:

  • Not all of the online resources are accessible or useful
  • Some of the material does not give suitable references for the studies
  • Sheer amount of information in the book may be too much for those not taking 2 years of Biology courses

5. Biology, 12th Edition by Peter Raven et al

For the 12th edition of this iconic Biology textbook, the Raven/ Johnson author team has been dedicated to keeping students engaged in learning and retaining Biological concepts. Biology 12th Edition maintains the clear, accessible, and engaging writing style of past editions, with the solid framework of pedagogy that highlights an emphasis on evolution and scientific inquiry that have made this a leading textbook for students majoring in biology.

Unlike many of their counterparts, this textbook’s emphasis on the organizing power of evolution is combined with an integration of the importance of cellular, molecular biology and genomics to offer our readers a text that is student-friendly and current. In addition, Biology 12th Edition focuses mainly on conceptual information and committing them to memory, rather than applying the knowledge after the course is over. Rather, there is a laser focus on the developmental of critical thinking skills and data analysis, within the context of Biological knowledge and concepts.

A hefty textbook, at 1472 pages, Biology 12th Edition is one of the thicker and heavier books of its kind. There are 2 tables of contents: one brief and one more topically detailed. All pages are filled with colorful graphics, easily digestible tables, defined terms, and thoroughly explained topics. This textbook is the most highly-rated by users of all the other textbooks on this list and is recommended for all students learning Biology: beginners and majors, in the classroom and self-study alike. Read more user reviews at Amazon.

Pro’s:

  • Rated most valuable Biology textbook based on quality of textbook vs. price
  • Often used by professors as a supplemental textbook when the other texts fail to provide the needed information
  • Highest rated Biology textbook on this list
  • Published in 2019, this textbook is the newest on this list. Most up-to-date information
  • E-book version has a flashcard feature to help memorize the material

Con’s

  • Due to length of book and size and quality of images, the book has a long load time on e-book platforms
  • Some of the in-depth explanations are poorly written and confusing, especially for beginners
  • Hardcover textbook is heavy and not easily transported
  • Some of the review questions at the end of each chapter did not cover material in the chapter

What is the criteria for choosing the best biology textbook?

Visuals (images, diagrams, graphs, etc…)

In order to learn and understand Biology, most learners have to see it well organized. What separates good textbooks from GREAT ones is the visuals used and how they are used. Great textbooks integrate visuals in a way that enhances understanding of the concept and fosters application.

Breaks in text & free space

While not always noticeable when done right, incorrect spacing and use of free space can ruin the flow of the text. These textbooks are written for college-aged students, who typically don’t read the text as much as they browse. A great textbook structures the pages with text broken into sections that are easily digestible.

Overall language & format of textbook

The more basic and concise the language, the better the text is understood. Learning Biology conepts and language does not require lofty language and complex paragraphs. However, in-depth explanations are often needed to convey the information. The best textbooks successfully walk the line between oversimplified and overly wordy text.

Motivation for learning

We live in times where there are so many things fighting for the student’s attention. Biology, for most students, is not at the top of that list. A really good textbook is designed to prepare students to be practitioners in a field, not just to try to keep bored students awake and hold their hands through a class they really wish they didn’t have to take. In order for the textbook to motivate students to learn and solve the problems, it must be relatable and valuable to them. A great textbook provides instruction and offers problem-solving strategies with an incentive to solve.

User Reviews

We live in an age where we have information literally at our fingertips and everyone has an opinion. We would be remiss if we did not include user ratings from Amazon, Google, and Goodreads into our criteria for the top 5 best Biology textbooks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the hardest part of learning biology?

Biology requires the application of acquired knowledge, which can be difficult in itself. While earning a degree in Biology, the most difficult aspect can be the memorization. No matter what field of Biology you pursue, there will most likely be an overwhelming amount of scientific terms, phrases, and acronyms that will need to be memorized in order to properly communicate with other scientists. For many, the rote memorization of terminology determines how successful they will be in earning their biology degree.

What career paths can I take with a degree in Biology?

Unlike many fields, there aren’t years of prerequisites needed to start the study of cutting-edge Biology. A Biology degree can earn a career working for the local, state, or federal government or in the private sector, performing research, providing diagnostic services, testing, counseling services, and health education.

Biology degrees can also be a starting point for a more advanced education or career. Biology is an excellent background for pursuing a career in medicine, pharmacology, healthcare, or forensics.

What are some specialized branches of biology?

The major fields of Biology include Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, Genetics, Biochemistry, and Ecology.

  • Zoology is a study of animals and includes specialties such as ethology (animal behavior), herpetology (reptiles), ichthyology (fish), mammalogy (mammals), ornithology (birds), And entomology (insects).
  • Botany is the study of plants.
  • Microbiology is the study of microbes (microorganisms, especially bacterium causing disease or fermentation).
  • Genetics is the field of study of genetic material such as DNA.
  • Biochemistry is the study of chemical reactions and its relation to life.
  • Ecology is the study of the environment and the organisms that live in it and can also include chemistry, physics, and geology.

How much money can I earn with a degree in Biology?

The range of pay for someone with a Bachelor’s degree in biology varies greatly. Earning potential depends heavily on place of employment and degree of education. Many doors of opportunity in Biology open when a higher degree, like a Master’s or Doctoral, is achieved.

Highest Paying Jobs With a B.S. in Biology

  1. Registered Nurse (RN): $70,000/year
  2. Microbiologist: $69,960/year
  3. Environmental Scientist: $69,400/year
  4. Agricultural & Food Scientist: $62,910/year
  5. Wildlife Biologist: $62,290/year
  6. Biological Writer: $61,820/year
  7. Conservation Scientist: $60,970/year

Not looking for a biology textbook? Read Reviews of Other Textbooks

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