Recommended Science Educational Resources for the General Reader
A reader of ENV wrote to us to inquire about resources for the layman in biology. As a general reader, he reported finding some of the more technical posts here at ENV difficult to follow. He wanted to know what books and other resources could be recommended to allow him to acquire a better understanding of the relevant biology. It occurred to me that others may be wondering the same thing, and so I decided to reproduce my response here:
I have always found molecular animations to be very helpful in visualizing what is going on. If, in your reading, you come across something that you don't quite understand, the chances are that someone has made an animation of it -- and these help immensely in grasping difficult biological concepts. For this reason, I try to include animations in many of my own articles at ENV to make it easier for a general audience to follow. Many such animations have been uploaded to YouTube, and you only have to search to find them.I hope some readers of ENV will find these resources helpful.
If you are looking for book resources, I can recommend many. But it depends somewhat on the kind of topics you're most interested in. There are many good textbooks on the subject of evolution specifically, e.g. Nicholas Barton's textbook Evolution is relatively easy to read.
If you would like a very general, non-technical overview of biology, I recommend Campbell's Biology. If you want even more introductory books, I recommend Schaum's outlines (e.g. Schaum's Outline of Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, or Organic Chemistry). The "For Dummies" series is even more introductory (e.g. Molecular and Cell Biology for Dummies). David Goodsell's book The Machinery of Life is also a good introduction.