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145 of the Best Biology Books and Resources

145 of the Best Biology Books and Resources
The word biology is derived from the greek words (bios meaning life) and (logos meaning study) and is defined as the science of life and living organisms. An organism is a living entity consisting of one cell e.g. bacteria, or several cells e.g. animals, plants and fungi. There are three major branches of biology – botany, zoology and microbiology. Botany is the branch of biology which deals with the study of different aspects of plants.

Biologists help us to understand environmental issues, genetics and the biology of animals and plants by studying all manner of living things and the world around them. Biologists work across a wide variety of sectors, including: agriculture, where they might try to improve productivity in livestock or crops.

The resources you’ll find below are not entirely a database of free materials, but more of a list of reference or “what to read” within the biology world. This list will cover various aspects of biological science from the study of molecular mechanisms in cells, to the classification and behaviour of organisms, how species evolve and interaction between ecosystems.

General Reading

  1. The Epic History of Biology by Serafini
  2. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  3. What is Life by Erwin Schrodinger
  4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  5. The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley
  6. The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould
  7. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
  8. The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski
  9. Power, Sex and Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane
  10. Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  11. The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  12. The Eighth Day of Creation by H. F. Judson
  13. The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris
  14. The Equation That Couldn’t be Solved by Mario Livio
  15. The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio
  16. The Complexity Paradox by Kenneth Mossman
  17. The Vital Question by Nick Lane
  18. On Growth and Form by D’Arcy Wentworth Thomsom
  19. The Big Questions: Evolution by Francisco Ayala
  20. The Making of a Fly by Peter Lawrence
  21. Molecular Machines in Biology by Joachim Frank
  22. Cell Motility from Molecules to Organisms by Ridley and Peckham
  23. Random Walks in Biology by Howard Berg
  24. Elephants on Acids and Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese
  25. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  26. Evolving Ourselves: Redesigning the Future of Humanity–One Gene at a Time
  27. The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
  28. Silent Spring by Rachel Carlson
  29. Soft Matter: the stuff that dreams are made of by Roberto Piazza


  1. Life on Earth and The Living Planet by David Attenborough

General Biology

  1. Ancestors in Our Genome by Eugene E. Harris
  2. A Cartoon Guide to Genetics by Gonick and Wheelis
  3. Campbell Biology
  4. Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple
  5. The Developing Genome: An Introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics by Davis S. Moore
  6. The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision
  7. The Many Phases of the Matter by Ganeshan Venkataraman
  8. The Shaping of Life by Lionel G. Harrison
  9. The Machinery of Life by David Goodsell


  1. Biochemistry by Berg


  1. Feynman Lectures On Computation by Richard Feynman
  2. Physics in Molecular Biology by Kim Sneppen
  3. Physics of Living Systems by Fabrizio Cleri

Bioprocess Engineering

  1. Bioprocess Engineering Principles by Pauline M. Doran


  1. Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution’s Greatest Puzzle by Andreas Wagner
  2. Computational Molecular Evolution by Ziheng Yang
  3. Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution by Dan Graur
  4. Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane
  5. Robustness and Evolvability in Living Systems by Andreas Wagner
  6. Mathematical Ecology of Populations and Ecosystems by John Pastor
  7. Man and His Future, A Ciba Foundation Volume by Wolstenholme, G. E. W.
  8. The Origins of Evolutionary Innovations by Andreas Wagner
  9. The Growth of Biological Thought

Molecular Biology

  1. What are the best papers in Molecular Biology?
  2. Molecular Biology of Gene by Watson et al
  3. Molecular Cell Biology by Lodish
  4. Gene Cloning and DNA Analysis: An Introduction by T. A. Brown
  5. Lewin’s GENES XII by Krebs et al


  1. Theoretical Neuroscience by Dayan and Abbott

Physical Biology

  1. Cell Biology by The Numbers


  1. How the Immune System Works?


  1. Genes and Genomes: A Changing Perspective by Maxine Singer and Paul Berg
  2. Concepts of Genetics by Klug
  3. Principles of Population Genetics by Hartl and Clark


  1. On the sequencing of the human genome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(6), 3712–3716 by Waterston, R. H. (2002)
  2. On the sequencing and assembly of the human genome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(7), 4145–4146 by Myers, E. W. (2002)
  3. Mutational Processes Molding the Genomes of 21 Breast Cancers. Cell, 149(5), 979–993 by Nik-Zainal, S., Alexandrov, L. B., Wedge, D. C., Van Loo, P., Greenman, C. D., Raine, K., Jones, D., et al. (2012)
  4. The accessible chromatin landscape of the human genome. Nature, 489(7414), 75–82 by Thurman, R. E., Rynes, E., Humbert, R., Vierstra, J., Maurano, M. T., Haugen, E., Sheffield, N. C., et al. (2012)
  5. RNA-Seq: a revolutionary tool for transcriptomics. Nat. Rev. Genet. 10, 57–63 (2009) by Wang, Z., Gerstein, M. & Snyder, M.

Systems Biology and Genetic Networks

  1. An Introduction to Systems Biology by Uri Alon
  2. A Genetic Switch by Mark Ptashne
  3. Lectures from Systems Biology Course by Uri Alon
  4. Life: An Introduction to Complex Systems Biology by Kunihiko Kaneko
  5. Mathematical Modeling in Systems Biology by Brian Ingalls


  1. Practical Computing for Biologists by Steven Haddock and Casey Dunn
  2. An Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms by Pavel Pevzner
  3. Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics by Jonathan Pevsner
  4. Biological Sequence Analysis: Probabilistic Models of Proteins and Nucleic Acids
  5. Bioinformatics: The Machine Learning Approach by Pierre Baldi
  6. Current topics in Genome Analysis 2016 by NIH-NHGRI
  7. Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics: An Introduction by Ewens
  8. Introduction to Protein-DNA Interactions by Gary Stormo
  9. Theory of Basic Alignment Search Tool (BLAST)


  1. Introduction to Statistical Learning (with applications in R) by Gareth James, Daniela Witten, Trevor Hastie and Rob Tibshirani
  2. Nature’s Statistics for Biologists Collection
  3. Statistical Done Wrong by Alex Reinhart

Structural Biology / Proteins

  1. Algorithms in Structural Molecular Biology by Bruce R. Donald
  2. Introduction to Protein Structure by Branden and Tooze
  3. Proteins: Structures and Molecular Properties by Creighton

Data Analysis / Programming

  1. The Cartoon Guide to Statistics by Gonick
  2. The Analysis of Biological Data by Whitlock and Schluter
  3. Practical Computing for Biologists by Haddock and Dunn
  4. Advanced Python for Biologists by Dr Martin O Jones

Laboratory Protocol Manuals

  1. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual by Sambrook
  2. Prescott’s Microbiology
  3. Nature Protocols

Blogs / Links

  1. What are some essential websites for biologists?
  2. Talks at ICTS – an interesting collection of talks on statistical physics, systems biology, and much more.
  3. Protein Love
  4. Bioscience club – discusses great biology related answers on Quora.
  5. It is NOT junk – A blog about genomes, DNA, evolution, open science by Michael Eisen
  6. Virology, immunology, biology by Ian York
  7. Quorky Biology
  8. reddit/biology
  9. reddit/bioinformatics
  10. reddit/learnbioinformatics
  11. Biostars Tutorials
  12. Rosalind


  1. This Week in Microbiology by Vincent Racaniello
  2. The Naked Scientists’ Podcasts – with four biology related podcasts, The Naked Scientists, eLife, Naked Genetics, and Naked Neuroscience.


  1. ResearchKit – Framework to create apps for medical research.
  2. bioconda-recipes – Conda recipes to install bioinformatics software.
  3. PDBREMIX – Library to analyze protein structures and protein simulations.
  4. scikit-bio – In development Python library for bioinformatics.
  5. BioPython – Python libraries that implement a rich set of modules to handle wide class of biological computations.


  1. Top Publications (Life Sciences) – Google Scholar
  2. Cell Press
  3. Current Opinion
  4. Nature
  5. Oxford Journals
  6. PNAS
  7. Science

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

  1. Bioinformatics: Journey to the Frontier of Computational Biology Specialization
  2. Complexity Explorer
  3. Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression
  4. Experimental Genome Science
  5. EMBL-EBI Online Training Courses
  6. Fundamentals of Biology – OCW.MIT
  7. HarvardX’s PH525-x Data Analysis Series
  8. Introduction to Systems Biology
  9. Introduction to Biomedical Imaging
  10. Introduction to Human Evolution
  11. Network Analysis in Systems Biology
  12. Neuronal Dynamics: Computational Neuroscience of Single Neurons
  13. Principles of Synthetic Biology
  14. Principles of Biochemistry
  15. Proteins: Biology’s Workforce
  16. – Biology


  1. International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM)
  2. DREAM Challenges
  3. ISCB Wikipedia Competition


  1. Biology of Genomes
  2. Gordon Research Conferences
  3. Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB)