10 Best Biology Textbooks | March 2017

Studying the sciences can be challenging, but rewarding, too, if you enhance your studies with the right materials, such as these informative biology textbooks. We've included editions specifically written to enhance the education of high school students, undergraduates and graduates pursuing a professional career in the field. Skip to the best biology textbook on Amazon.
10 Best Biology Textbooks | March 2017


Overall Rank: 8
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 5
Best High-End
★★★
Overall Rank: 2
Best Inexpensive
★★★★★
10
Biology: The Essentials 2nd Edition was designed by an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma who takes a cross-disciplinary approach to help students relate to the subject. It has pedagogical tools designed to demonstrate to readers that biology is everywhere.
9
Brooks Cole's Biology outlines key concepts at the beginning of each chapter and learning objectives at the start of each section to prepare you for the chapter's content. There is also a specially focused summary at the end of each chapter for reinforcement.
8
The 12th edition of Sylvia S. Mader's Biology focuses on major themes, like the nature of science and biological systems, and encourages students to take learning into their own hands. It's a good choice for non biology majors to study before starting class.
7
Biology: The Core 2nd Edition uses concise modules that focus on the most important concepts in the field without unnecessary information, making it easier for beginner students to understand. The text has a modular organization that makes it a great teaching tool.
  • contains detailed and effective visuals
  • has helpful charts and graphs
  • not suitable for advanced students
Brand Biology: The Core 2nd E
Model pending
Weight 12.6 ounces
6
Prentice Hall: Biology uses analogies, familiar examples, and clear, instructional graphics to create a student-centered approach to enhance the subject matter that is thorough and challenging. All of the content is also up-to-date with current biology concepts.
  • easy to understand writing style
  • online success tracker is included
  • uses new terms that may be confusing
Brand PRENTICE HALL
Model pending
Weight 5.8 pounds
5
Biological Science 6th Edition is an introductory text that aims to equip students with a strategy to assess their own level of understanding and then learn how to improve. This new edition has streamlined the content with an emphasis on core concepts of biology.
  • details lots of experimental evidence
  • promotes active engagement with the text
  • has new content on global climate change
Brand Biological Science 6th
Model pending
Weight 6.9 pounds
4
Biology: Life on Earth takes a real-world approach by incorporating true stories relevant to biology in every chapter in the form of case studies. It is written in a conversational, question-and-answer presentation style to make it more engaging than other textbooks.
  • meant for non-biology majors
  • learning goals outlined in each chapter
  • significant focus on health science
Brand Brand: Benjamin Cumming
Model pending
Weight 1.6 pounds
3
Life: The Science of Biology sets the standard for experiment-based introductory biology texts. It is a technologically advanced option, featuring QR codes in the text linking to media clips, interactive chapter summaries, and a flashcard app.
  • includes art with balloon captions
  • narratives begin each chapter
  • teaches fundamental concepts of biology
Brand Sadava, David/ Hillis,
Model pending
Weight 7.2 pounds
2
Exploring Creation with Biology is designed for a high school student's first biology course, and the authors recommend that the course be taken in tandem with Algebra I. It provides a detailed introduction to the methods and concepts of general biology.
  • emphasizes the vocabulary of biology
  • access to additional online resources
  • detailed appendix of review questions
Brand Brand: Apologia Educati
Model pending
Weight 4.8 pounds
1
McGraw Hill's Biology 4th Edition is meant to prepare students for future course work, lab experiences, and careers in the sciences. It inspires students to want to learn more about biology and is designed to encourage and strengthen critical thinking skills.
  • provides a learner-centered approach
  • includes multiple assessments
  • written for undergraduate students
Brand Brand: McGraw-Hill Scie
Model pending
Weight 6.5 pounds

Brief History Of Biology

Biology can trace its beginnings all the way back to the 5th century BC when Alcmaeon of Croton made the first significant contribution. He is the first known scientist to practice dissection in his studies. He didn't actually have an anatomical goal, but is credited with making first scientific discoveries in the field.

Biological sciences today has drawn from numerous traditions and practices dating back to antiquity, such as the practice of medicine, which started with ancient Greeks like Hippocrates, and the tradition of natural history, which dates back to Aristotle. In 300 BC, Theophrastus can be said to have started Botany when he attempted to classify plants and describe their structures, habits, and uses.

Botany is one of the earlier biological studies to experience popular interest and research as it was closely linked with medical practices. Along with medicine, botany was vital in the study of natural history and is considered one of the earliest points of common focus between the two areas. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance era, it was often commonplace to see gardens maintained at centers of medical instruction with the professors not only caring for the gardens, but being experts of botany as well.

In 1543, Andreas Vesalius researched anatomy by performing detailed dissections on human cadavers, which was unusual at the time as most anatomists were only dissecting animals. He published a seven-volume atlas of human anatomy called the De Humani Corporis Fabrica that covered both muscular and skeletal anatomy and the body's major organ systems. In the 16th century, physiology began to flourish as well, but knowledge in this area didn't start accumulating rapidly until the 19th century with the appearance of cell theory.

By the 1900s many of these different areas of study were overlapping and the concept of biology as a single coherent field of study began to emerge.

Etymology Of The Word Biology

The word biology comes from combining two Greek words, βίος, translated as bios, which means life, and the suffix λέγειν, which can be roughly translated as -logy and means the study of, or science of. Thus, when combined it can mean the study of life or the science of life.

There is some debate as to the first use of the word biology. It is often cited as being coined either by Thomas Beddoes in 1799 or Karl Burdach in 1800, but there is also documented use of it in Volume 3 of Michael Christoph Hanow's Philosophiae naturalis sive physicae dogmaticae: Geologia, biologia, phytologia generalis et dendrologia, which was published in 1766 and in its Latin form, bilogi, in Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus' Bibliotheca botanica, published in 1736.

Tips For Reading A Textbook

Textbooks aren't like regular books that tell a story, rather they are designed to teach and inform. As such, a textbook shouldn't be read from front to back like a regular book. Instead the best strategy is to follow a preview, read, review format for each chapter. Don't worry about spoiling the ending, textbooks don't lead up to some climatic surprise as mystery thrillers do.

The preview step is designed to give you a broad overview of what you will be reading about, and the major topics or concepts you will be learning. To preview a textbook effectively, you will want to start at the very end of the chapter with the quiz questions. Try and answer them as best you can before you start reading the chapter. This will give you a breakdown of exactly what you should hope to learn in your readings and also make those key points stand out in your mind later when you are going through the chapter. Next, read the chapter's final summary, which will give you a background of the main ideas that will be covered. Finally go back and browse all of the headings and subdivisions of the chapter.

Now you can move on to reading the chapter. This should be active reading, unlike reading a story book, which is passive reading. In active reading you will take notes, ask questions, and highlight key points. The trick to doing this is not to stop and take notes or highlight as you read, but rather to do it at the end of each page or after a couple of paragraphs. Stopping to do it as you read will breakup your flow. You may also highlight the wrong key point as you highlight something that seems important and then a few sentences later you read something that is even more vital. If you highlight everything that seems important as you go, you will probably wind up with to much highlighted material making browsing your notes harder.

Writing questions about key concepts along the margins or on post-its after you read each page is a great way to set yourself up for later testing. Once you finish the chapter or a large section of it, you can go back and take a look at the questions. If you can answer them without having to reference the text, then you know you have comprehended your readings.

The final review step is just to ensure you have understood everything. Start by writing your own summary of the information in the chapter. This ensures you can expound on what you have learned and recall it for later use. Then move onto the chapter's review questions you started with and see how many you can answer correctly. If there are questions you can't answer, go back and study up on those areas.



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Last updated: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information

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