The 10 Best Organic Chemistry Textbooks 2020

nowledge of organic chemistry is critical to myriad industries, and anyone considering a career in a related field will need a solid grounding in the subject. Penned by various experts, these textbooks are designed to give you that and more by distilling complex topics into navigable formats supplemented with useful pedagogy, online materials, and plenty of opportunities to practice

1. Organic Chemistry I For Dummies

Organic Chemistry I For Dummies (appx. $5) is sympathetic to the fact that the discipline is notoriously formidable, and explains the finer points in terms that are intelligible to a layperson. Its low price makes it all the more attractive to cash-strapped students.

  • A good primer for high schoolers
  • Ancillary workbook also available
  • Takes some proficiency for granted

2. Advanced Organic Chemistry: Part B

It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up to it, Advanced Organic Chemistry: Part B (about $57) is an established classic that will furnish the proficient chemist with plenty of information. Despite being a component in a series, it’s perfectly capable of standing on its own.

  • Substantially revised and updated
  • Brimming with references
  • Doesn’t have an answer key

3. Arrow-Pushing in Organic Chemistry

Arrow-Pushing in Organic Chemistry (about $50) deals extensively with the essentials and works hard to lay them out in a way that doesn’t require joyless memorization. Instead, it uses the electron-pushing technique to reduce challenging ideas to simpler studies of interactions.

  • Useful for visual learners
  • Teaches predictive strategies
  • Unusual approach isn’t for everyone

4. General, Organic, & Biological Chemistry

In General, Organic, & Biological Chemistry (around $119), professor Jan Smith conveys a broad understanding of these interrelated disciplines, as well as how they apply to consumer and environmental issues. To do this, she uses succinct bullet points and step-by-step problem-solving.

  • Minimizes the use of text paragraphs
  • Highly-detailed illustrations
  • Far from comprehensive

5. Oxford Organic Chemistry

Once you get through the whopping 1,264 pages of information provided by Oxford Organic Chemistry (appx. $57), you’ll be armed with the power to understand compounds that are entirely new to you, as well as the knowledge of how and why certain reactions happen as they do.

  • Convenient abbreviations guide
  • Color-coded chemical structures
  • Not very hands-on

6. Introduction to Strategies for Organic Synthesis

Introduction to Strategies for Organic Synthesis (around $56) was created to help you make the transition from your intermediate courses to the graduate level. You’ll gain a deep understanding of functional group behavior and reactivity, as well as a familiarity with common reagents.

  • Reviews fundamental concepts
  • Over 450 problems and solutions
  • Too in-depth for beginners

7. Organic Chemistry, 2nd Edition

Organic Chemistry, 2nd Edition (around $135) is a standalone text penned to give a firm foundation to those who may be intimidated by the subject. Author David Klein uses relatable language to describe everything from aldehydes and ketones to carboxylic acids and their derivatives.

  • Rife with skill-building activities
  • Abundance of pharmaceutical examples
  • Packed with colorful visuals

8. Modern Physical Organic Chemistry

Geared toward advanced undergraduates, Modern Physical Organic Chemistry (appx. $113) is one of the few tomes available that goes beyond simply covering classically-taught topics, and instead weaves them with critical fields that every contemporary practitioner should be familiar with.

  • Sufficient for a year-long course
  • Covers computational methods as well
  • Important terms in bold

9. Organic Chemistry As a Second Language

Organic Chemistry As a Second Language (around $51) takes a no-fuss approach to the basics. It connects fundamental ideas and explains why they’re relevant without getting mired in dizzying details, making it an ideal primer to dive into before you begin your introductory classes.

  • Clear and accessible writing style
  • Plenty of practice exercises
  • Helps you study more efficiently

10. Organic Chemistry, 9th Edition

Designed to be both student and instructor-friendly, Organic Chemistry, 9th Edition (around $247) not only works to impart the major concepts of the discipline without overwhelming, but also strives to teach readers how to be flexible when applying those same principles to real life.

  • Copious partially-solved problems
  • Handy visual reaction guides
  • Extensive auxiliary digital content