I want to study biology. I have zero previous knowledge of biology but I know Physics, Chemistry and Maths. From which book should I start? I have heard about Campbell Biology, but it is very costly in India(more than my 1 month's earning). So please suggest books that:

  • Are cheap OR could be found on internet
  • Require no previous knowledge of biology
  • Contain no technical mistakes
  • Adequately explain the topics which they deal with
  • and also mention some history of the topics


I am not looking for online videos. I want books; my internet is slow and there are some other problems. You can also tell costly books--Perhaps I could find them in the library or could print it somehow. If Campbell Biology book is available online then please give me the download link.

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    $\begingroup$ Many previous editions of textbooks are available for free online. I don't have any recommendations though. Is there a specific area of biology you want to focus on? $\endgroup$ – canadianer Sep 19 '14 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer Once I read a school book, it says everything is made up of cells and various cells combine to form an organ or something like that. So in particular I want to know everything about cell, how they were made, how they combine etc etc. I want to study historically, i.e. how scientist discovered this and that etc etc. $\endgroup$ – user31782 Sep 20 '14 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer Once I was reading Nervous system, the book said that there is some kind of sodium impluse which sends the electrical signal to our brain. But I could not understand the sodium impulse. So I want to learn about that. But at first I want to make a solid background in biology so I will first read some introductory book. $\endgroup$ – user31782 Sep 20 '14 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ I had the same problem a month ago. I tried biology demystified and schaum's outline of biology but they cover topics so fast and using technical words, I couldn't follow. Then I found the great book Campbell biology online and here I am discovering biology. $\endgroup$ – user5402 Sep 21 '14 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @metacompactness thankyou very much for the link. $\endgroup$ – user31782 Sep 21 '14 at 18:29

As @metacompactness said in the comments, the campbell (9th edition) is available and free in pdf online (here). This book is a classic that most undergraduate students know quite well.

Online resources

There are some very good online resources to get an introduction to biology. I think that online resources might have the drawback that they may miss the big picture that a whole book can give you and it may be complicated to really understand in what order you should look at the videos particularly if you jump from one website to another. Otherwise, it is often quicker to learn from someone speaking in a video than from reading a book. I learned lots in various field thanks to free online courses. I appreciate a lot reading books but I think that free online resource is the best option for you.

As I did my undergrad in biology, I never really needed this kind of resource but generally speaking I find Khan Academy to be very good for introducing students to new fields of knowledge. And there is a whole biology section on Khan Academy. The MIT courseware is also a very good free resource. Education portail might be a good starting point as well.

If you google "free introductory course biology" you will find many other resources.

Here is a ted talk by Salman Khan (from Khan Academy) for the fun.

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    $\begingroup$ Khan academy is amazing! That would be a wonderful place to start! $\endgroup$ – L.B. Sep 20 '14 at 0:42

Biological sciences

This is a low price edition available in India on flipkart.com, it covers all topics extensively. It costs around ₹ 570.

Biological Science (English) 3rd Edition by Taylor

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    $\begingroup$ Is this book for absolute beginners or for BS as many people wrote in reviews? $\endgroup$ – user5402 Sep 19 '14 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ This book is equivalent book to Campbell Biology.Taking into account the prize of Campbell biology,this book is relatively cheap. $\endgroup$ – Raghavakrishna Sep 21 '14 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't read this book, I can't judge but Campbell biology is available online for free and I am currently enjoying it :) $\endgroup$ – user5402 Sep 21 '14 at 15:32

A great place to start is Khan academy. It is free and very easy to understand.

Also, another thing you could try would be Bob Jones Biology (books A&B). I don't know how much those cost in India. But, they explain things in great detail starting at the bottom and working upward. I will let you know that they have a strong Christian influence which some people would disagree with. However, if you can look past that, they are excellent, well-written books!


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