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Recommended General Chemistry Textbooks

The following is a list of textbooks that I recommend as textbooks for use in general chemistry. It is not possible to recommend a single textbook, since there are a large number of general chemistry textbooks that with different strengths and weaknesses. There are a number of poorly written and/or illustrated textbooks that will not be on this list. To use this recommended textbook list, choose a good textbook here are a few this to first consider.

  • Is this a one semester or two semester chemistry sequence?
  • Who is this course designed for? Science majors or non-science majors?
  • Are you lecturing to 20 students, 50 students, or 350 students?
  • How do your fellow students interact with on another, small discussion groups led by a TA, small study groups on their own, on-line with chat and discussion boards, or never.
  • What is most important to you?
    • The content of the text?
    • The textbook illustrations?
    • The end-of-chapter problems?
    • Worked examples within the text?
    • Small groups discussion questions?
    • Relating chemistry topics with the everyday world?
    • Web-Based chemistry content?
    • CD/DVD content?

Chemistry in Context; 5th edition; American Chemical Society

Recommended Textbook - Chemistry in Context; 5th edition; American Chemical Society Recommendation: This book is designed to teach chemistry in the context of environmental issues such as water quality, global warming, and protecting the ozone layer. The book does a great job of making a textbook fun to read. The book clearly shows how chemistry has changed human history. It presents the best description I've seen for the important of data collection and using the scientific method. The only complaint with the book is that it tosses in timelines for natural history without any qualifying statements. This is especially troubling then we are cautioned not to jump to conclusions about the hole in the ozone layer, but the time periods for prehistoric development are presented in an unguarded fashion.

World of Chemistry - Essentials; 3rd Edition; Melvin D. Joesten, James L. Wood, Mary E. Castellion

Recommended Textbook - World of Chemistry - Essentials; 3rd Edition; Melvin D. Joesten, James L. Wood, Mary E. Castellion Recommendation: Review to be added latter. Good alternative to Chemistry in Context.

Chemistry: The Central Science; 10th edition; Theodore L. Brown, H. Eugene LeMay, Jr., Bruce E. Bursten, and Catherine J. Murphy

Recommended Textbook - Chemistry: The Central Science; 10th edition; Theodore L. Brown, H. Eugene LeMay, Jr., Bruce E. Bursten, and Catherine J. Murphy Recommendation: The book is design for a two semester general chemistry sequence and is appropiate for science majors. It's strengthes are: illustrations and photos, strong worked examples within the text, simple to advanced end-of-chapter problems including e-media problems utilizing the CD-ROM content and virtual lab exercises, solid content within the textbook.

General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts; 4th Edition; Raymond Chang

Recommended Textbook - General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts; 4th Edition; Raymond Chang Recommendation: This textbook presents chemical concepts clearly. End-of-chapter problems are abundant and well written. Illustrations are clear and useful to the reader as well. It is an overall solid textbook.

General Chemistry; 7th Edition; Kenneth W. Whitten, Raymond E. Davis, Larry M. Peck, George G. Stanley

Recommended Textbook - General Chemistry; 7th Edition; Kenneth W. Whitten, Raymond E. Davis, Larry M. Peck, George G. StanleyTextbook - Recommendation: The book is design for a two semester general chemistry sequence and is appropiate for science majors. The text is well-written and contains insightful visualization (especially the multi-focus illustration and photos). The "Problem-Solving Tips" are especially useful for students as they read through the chapter.

General Chemistry; 4th edition; John W. Hill, Ralph H. Petrucci, Terry W. McCreary, Scott S. Perry

Recommended Textbook - General Chemistry; 4th edition; John W. Hill, Ralph H. Petrucci, Terry W. McCreary, Scott S. Perry Recommendation: The book is design for a two semester general chemistry sequence and is appropiate for science majors. It's strengthes are: illustrations and photos. The examples within the chapter are followed by one or more exercises to reinforce the concept explained in the worked example.

Chemistry; 6th edition; Steven Zumdahl and Susan Zumdahl

Recommended Textbook - Chemistry; 6th edition; Steven Zumdahl and Susan Zumdahl Recommendation: The book is design for a two semester general chemistry sequence and is appropiate for science majors. It's strengthes are: well-written content, in-class discussion question to facilitate active learning of chemistry, simple to advanced end-of-chapter problems including e-media problems utilizing the CD-ROM content, large variety "Chemical Impacts" to highlight the conection between chemistry and everyday life.

Disclaimer: My goal with these recommendations is to present an unbaised opinion. I do however, know several of these authors on a personal and professor level.

  • Roxy Wilson writes the solution's manual for Brown-LeMay-Bursten-Murphy textbook. I worked with Roxy Wilson during my five years at the University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign. Roxy has been a wonderful mentor over the years, helping me to understand the practical side teaching chemistry, as well as, project management and digital video production. Roxy and her husband Scott Wilson (a stellar crystallographer) are personal friends and helped me gain a bit of wisdom in my youth about how the chemistry world works.
  • Catherine Murphy is the contributing author on the Brown-LeMay-Bursten-Murphy textbook. During the summer I spent teaching physical chemistry at the University of South Carolina, I had the opportunity of sit down with Dr. Murphy a few times. She is a materials chemist as I am and was thrilled to learn she was rewriting the materials chemistry chapter beginning in edition 10 in addition to her other contributions.
  • I worked for Steve Zumdahl for five years before his retirement from classroom teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I developed much of my philosophy of teaching through discussions with both Steve and Susan Zumdahl. Not only were they wonderful mentors and colleagues, but I count them as personal friends.
  • Tom Hummel contributes to the solution guides for Zumdahl's textbook. I also worked with him during my time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I learned from Tom that the simple questions are sometimes the most important. His calm and professional demeanor.made him a joy to work with.
  • Don DeCoste comtributes to the instructor's resource guide and test bank for Zumdahl's textbook. I worked with Don during my time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and even co-taught a course with him. His active learning approach to teaching is one of the best around. His students love his learning style and I learn a great deal from teaching along side him.
  • During graduate school, the University of Texas at Austin used Dr. Ray Davis' textbook. Although I never taught for Dr. Davis, he was one of the few research professors who took a personal interest in how general chemistry was taught. I peeked in on many of his lectures to observe his teaching style. He was also the person many of us TA's turned to for basic questions of how things worked in these large general chemistry courses. As I was completing my Ph.D. and applying for teaching positions, Dr. Davis wrote letters of recommendations for me. We occasionally bump into one another at ACS conferences and I am happy to say he still remembers me.
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Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM