Book: Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts’)

Molecular Biology of the Cell
Each edition changes colour. Fifth edition is red. Fourth edition is grey.

The KitchenAid of biology. All other biology textbooks are just accessories.
1392 pages, ★★★★★

Molecular Biology of the Cell, or “Alberts'”, as it’s known colloquially, is the cornerstone of a university education in biology. All biology undergraduates will have seen it, most of them will buy it, yet none of them will actually read it. They should.

Alberts’ details every aspect of cell biology, and delves deeply into physiology, neurology and pharmacology as well—rendering some undergraduate textbooks in those fields redundant.

Illustrations are crisp, clear and never excessive. Colour is used for clarity but not for aesthetics. The text is prose-heavy and reads like a story so it can be read cover-to-cover quite comfortably (albeit slowly). And that’s exactly what students should do.

Many students will use Alberts when they need to learn about something quickly, such as, “what shape is a mitochondria?”, “what does kinesin do?”, or “in what order does the electron transfer chain take place?” If you haven’t read this book from cover-to-cover already, then finding those answers is going to take much longer than you think. Alberts is not a reference book—it’s a comprehensive background story. Quick answers can be found on Google, but genuine understanding comes from a cover-to-cover reading of Alberts. ★★★★★

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