The Best College Biology Textbooks of 2021

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Are you looking for the best books on biology but have no clue where to start? Are you struggling in your biology class and need the best biology book for college students? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, then you have landed at the right place.

Biology can be a hard subject to grasp. The material, though fascinating, if not presented correctly, can be tedious and hard to understand. We want to help you find a book that not only allows you to learn but can aid you in getting the most out of your biology class.

This list will help you do that and more. We will provide you with good biology books to read as well as the best biology books for self-study. These texts can be used as a companion to your course load or as a reference text for situations you may be struggling in. No matter the scenario, we are here to help you.

If you’re tired of failing your biology tests and are finally ready to find an alternative text, we got you! Keep reading for not just the top biology books but for tips for choosing the right biology text for you. All you must do is keep reading for more information.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top pick for college biology textbooks here.

Our Top Favorite
CAMPBELL BIOLOGY&STU WB PRACT&MSTGBIO VP AC
Our Top Runner Up
Biology
Our Top Value Pick
Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life
Book Title
Campbell Biology
Biology
Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life
Prime Eligible?
-
-
Our Top Favorite
CAMPBELL BIOLOGY&STU WB PRACT&MSTGBIO VP AC
Book Title
Campbell Biology
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
Biology
Book Title
Biology
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life
Book Title
Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-04-12

Our Favorites for Best College Biology Textbooks

Campbell Biology by Lisa A. Urry, Michael L. Cain, Steven A. Wasserman, Peter V. Minorsky & Jane B. Reece

Campbell Biology is a text that is recommended repeatedly if you are looking for a biology textbook. Many students and professionals regard it as one of the best biology textbooks. Many professionals recommend starting with this book before diving into several others. This text is also one that is frequently used in college classrooms. It can be purchased alone or with the MyLab companion to allow for the completion of homework, tutorials, or other material assigned by your instructor.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Campbell Biology is a text that is highly sought after and recommended for good reason. It provides not only clear and engaging text but a variety of hands-on activities that allow you to see the science at work.
  • The book is set up in a way that allows students to build upon what they learn, chapter by chapter. This is an excellent text for beginners or students looking to pique their interest in science. The book opens with how science relates to life and continuously builds from the explanation of what cells are.
  • Each chapter is centered around 3-5 key concepts. These concepts are big-picture ideas that are further explained throughout the chapter.
  • Newer versions of the text also come equipped with QR codes and URLs. These codes allow students to scan them for access to resources that will further enforce the content. These resources include vocabulary quizzes, practice tests, and more.
  • Campbell Biology even aids in getting students to understand the figures which they encounter in the text. The “Visualizing Figures” area of the book teaches students how to use models and diagrams. Questions even help to ensure that students are grasping concepts.

Why Choose This College Biology Book:

  • Many students have agreed that this is one of the best science books they have ever read. It is beautifully well written and offers a student in-depth explanations and quizzes for reinforcement.
  • The book can seem slightly intimidating due to its size, but the book contains an abundance of information which can lead users into a variety of directions. It includes clear and helpful illustrations.
  • This is an excellent text to utilize if you are taking multiple Biology courses. Though it can be slightly pricey, the book is well worth the money you will spend on it.
  • This text is heavily recommended by not just students and biologists but schools and universities as well.

CAMPBELL BIOLOGY&STU WB PRACT&MSTGBIO VP AC
CAMPBELL BIOLOGY&STU WB PRACT&MSTGBIO VP AC
  • Neil A. Campbell, Lisa A. Urry, Michael L. Cain, Steven A. Wasserman, Peter V. Minorsky, Jane B. Reece (Author)
  • 01/30/2017 (Publication Date) - Pearson (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-04-12


Biology by Peter Raven, George Johnson, Kenneth Mason, Jonathan Losos & Tod Duncan

Biology is a text which aims to keep the student’s learning a priority. They are also looking for ways to improve upon previous versions to include better content and resources. This textbook is one of the industry leaders for students majoring in biology.

What Makes It Unique:

  • This text is divided into eight different units. Each unit covers a different topic with topics ranging from genetic and molecular biology to Animal form and function.
  • At the beginning of the text, the authors detail all of the changes from the previous edition to information. Biology includes specific chapter information and a summary of what changed within the text.
  • Scientific figures are placed throughout the chapter for students to develop their critical thinking skills. These figures often help students learn to formulate a hypothesis and formulate open-ended questions. These questions can drive further scientific discovery.

Why Choose This College Biology Book:

  • Many users have deemed this text a book for scientists and students alike. It is an excellent reference text for individuals working in the industry or if you have an interest in learning more about biology.
  • Many students do not find the text too dense or jargon-heavy. It is enjoyable and easy to follow for all types of students.

Biology
Biology
  • Biology 12th Edition by Peter H Raven
  • Raven, Peter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-12


Runner Ups for Best College Biology Textbooks

Biology by Sylvia S. Mader & Michael Windelspecht

Biology is another option if you are looking for a quality biology textbook. There are several themes included in the text, including evolution and natural sciences. Sylvia Mader is a nationally recognized author for several of her biology textbooks.

She boasts an entertaining writing style that many students continuously enjoy. Michael Windelspecht is no beginner either; he has taught courses ranging from biology to human genetics. With this text, you are in good hands.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Several themes ground the content within the text. These themes include biological systems, evolution, and the nature of sciences. They are present throughout the text and highlighted at the beginning of each chapter. Two areas that specifically do this within the text are “Following the Themes,” “Unit Learning Outcomes,” and “Connecting the Concepts with the Themes.” These areas provide information which allows students to dig deeper. It reminds them to keep the themes in mind while learning.
  • The authors also strive to use real-world examples to ensure that the material students are learning is relevant and relatable. This means including information from relevant news stories from sites like BioNow and RicochetScience.
  • Check your progress sections are littered throughout the text to ensure that students are retaining the information they read. These sections include questions about the material in the chapter and attempt to have students recall key concepts and definitions.
  • Elaborate diagrams and examples can be found throughout the text to aid learners who may be more visual.

Why Choose This College Biology Book:

  • This is a simple text which is excellent for beginning science students in introductory courses or simply people interested in learning science. However, Biology can also be an excellent text for seasoned professionals to use for brushing up on general biology. It is a well-written text for all levels.
  • Biology is often required for many freshman-level biology courses. However, even if it is not necessary for your class, it would serve as a great supplement.

On Sale
Biology
Biology
  • Hardcover Book
  • Mader, Sylvia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-12


Concepts of Biology by Samantha Fowler, Rebecca Roush, James Wise

Concepts of Biology is an introductory textbook for non-biology majors. It is used to teach introductory biology classes and two and four-year universities. The book aims to explain the significant themes of biology without overwhelming its audience. It provides an abundance of information and resources for students.

What Makes It Unique:

  • The text offers several vibrant color imageries and a host of practice and open-ended questions to help students learn to think critically.
  • Concepts of Biology provides students with several resources for learning more. This is done using QR codes. Scanning these codes with your phone will take you to the referenced article or video.
  • Each unit openly highlights the items that students should be able to define or identify when the unit is over. This includes things like providing examples of sub-disciplines in biology or describing the properties of life.

Why Choose This College Biology Book:

  • Many students rave that this text is an excellent introductory text. This is one of the best biology books for beginners and would even be suitable for self-study or homeschooling curriculum.
  • Concepts of Biology is well written and aims to make learning easier for you. Chapter summaries even include definitions so that students do not need to flip through the chapter continuously.
  • There are several links if using an e-book, or references to outside material to ensure that information is available at your fingertips.

Concepts of Biology by OpenStax (hardcover version, full color)
Concepts of Biology by OpenStax (hardcover version, full color)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Samantha Fowler (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-12


Value Picks for Best College Biology Textbooks

Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life by Cecie Starr, Ralph Taggart & Christine Evers

Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life is a text which is known for its creativity and writing style. This text is often used for college-level introduction classes. The book aims to teach students how to think critically while making science engaging and colorful.

What Makes It Unique:

  • The latest edition replaces the learning roadmap with Core Concepts. These core concepts aid students in tying the information from the chapter into real-world examples and practices. It also helps the student focus on the central theme of each chapter.
  • The text is most known for its artistic imagery. The book has no shortage of engaging imagery and figures to keep your eyes on every page.
  • The book’s pages are highly visual and perfect for someone who needs color and movement to take in concepts. For example, key terms are color-coded, objectives are highlighted at the beginning of each chapter, and figures are referred through within the text.

Why Choose This College Biology Book:

  • This book can be used with little to no prior biology knowledge. “Take Home Messages” allow students to be reminded of key concepts that they should remember at the end of each section.
  • Biology: The Unity and Diversity ofLife is often used as a college-level biology textbook and can be purchased in conjunction with Cengage. If you are unfamiliar, Cengage is a platform that allows students to access books online, receive flashcards, study guides, tutorials, and more.
  • Some students who were skeptical of the book at first soon realized it was one of the best college biology textbooks they had seen. Some students even planned on passing the text along to family members who have an interest in science.

On Sale
Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life
Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life
  • Hardcover Book
  • Starr, Cecie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-12


Biology for Dummies by Donna Rae Seigfried & Rene Fester Kratz

The For Dummies brand has made a name for creating books that allow beginners and even “dummies” to grasp even the hardest concepts. These things range from programming to languages. They also have a few books centered around helping individuals understand biology. This is not a classroom text and should be used as more of a refresher or reference text.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Biology for Dummies is written for the average person with a little background in the biological sciences. Like all For Dummies books, it is written in plain English and includes an excess of resources and references for readers to use.
  • Biology for Dummies aims to stay relevant by covering the most recent stories concerning evolutionary, reproductive, and ecological biology.
  • The text is divided into six different parts, each covering a separate area. The book begins like most biology textbooks with the basics of biology. These basics include life, living organisms, and the cell.
  • If you are taking a more relaxed approach to learning biology, this is the text for you. However, Biology for Dummies doesn’t leave the other knowledge levels hanging. With the use of the “Technical Stuff” portions in the text, readers can get more in-depth information and explanations about a specific topic.

Why Choose This College Biology Book:

  • Some college students called this textbook an absolute must for college students who need to take biology. The book is also the perfect companion for non-traditional students who may be significantly removed from a traditional classroom. Though this is not a replacement for a conventional textbook, it makes complex information easy to understand.
  • The text is exceptionally well written, entertaining, and has helped several students make sense of the content within their textbooks. Many students follow along with the For Dummies text as they progress through their coursework.
  • Biology for Dummies is the perfect textbook for someone new to biology.

On Sale
Biology For Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyle))
Biology For Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyle))
  • FOR DUMMIES
  • Fester Kratz, Rene (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-12


How to Choose the Best College Biology Textbook for You

Choosing a biology book can be difficult, depending on your reason for searching for one. If you are pressed for time and are looking for a shortcut on how to know that you are choosing the right biology book, use the questions below for help. As you begin to answer these questions, the books available to you will narrow out until you find the one. Though we can not read your mind, the texts on this list are a great starting point for vetting these questions.

  • Why am I looking for a biology book?
  • What format do I need this textbook to come in, print or ebook?
  • Will this text be used as a supplemental or reference book?
  • Does my professor require this text?
  • Will I need this book for an extended period?
  • How much am I looking to spend? Can I use an older edition?

These questions can be used to narrow down the best option for you. For example, if you are looking for a thin book that is informative yet reasonably priced for a casual learner, you would not pick Campbell Biology. Instead, an option like Biology for Dummies may work for you because you are not able to use a textbook that does not make it “bad,” which means that it is not for you.

Wrapping Up the Best College Biology Textbooks

There are several books to choose from when you are looking for the best college biology textbook. These items come in an array of sizes, levels, mediums, and expertise. However, you can determine the best option for you. Books like Biology by Campbell and Reece as well as Biology by Peter Raven are two options which students often mention.

These are great texts to supplement your biology course or may even be a requirement for your class. However, because they are highly popular does not make them the best option for you. Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life is a text which many creatives are drawn to for the illustrations and imagery. This is a great text for students with little to no biology background.

If you are an older student looking for a reference book or someone who has been out of a classroom for an extended period of time, Biology for Dummies may be a perfect option. It allows students to bridge their gaps in knowledge and gain several resources. Many of the textbooks on this list even come with QR codes to make finding outside information easy and accessible.

With this list, our goal is for you to find a text which allows you to excel in your biology courses regardless of if you are a science wiz or a newbie. Who knows, you may even develop a love for biology so strong that one day your name is on this list as an author.

If you found this post helpful, check out our other comprehensive textbook reviews.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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