I'm taking a course on biochemistry at edx. Since I'm a computer science student, I'm having some trouble in understanding many biochemical concepts. While the first module was just fine, I found the second module really hard to understand. I have problems to learn and understand about amino acids and proteins, so I would like to study apart from some good resources.

Which is a good resource to learn about amino acids and macromolecules? Also, please let me know if this book is up to date?

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    $\begingroup$ Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry is a good text book. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jul 4, 2015 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ Hello George. It would be much easier for others to answer your doubts if you ask about a specific doubt. There are a lot of things to know about proteins and we cannot know what the second module has that you do not understand. See the tag-wiki on book recommendation. You should address all those points otherwise we cannot suggest a good book as per your requirement. Alternatively, you can ask clarification for your doubts here but make sure that you do not ask too many questions in a single post. $\endgroup$
    Jul 4, 2015 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ If amino acids and macro molecules are what is troubling you, then just read any biochemistry textbook printed within the last few years. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jul 4, 2015 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ I personally prefer Berg Stryer Biochemistry alot compared to Voet Voet Prat. There's also the lectures from Kevin Ahern. and there's a book by Ahern as well. As you see these preferences depends on each individual even though a particular text book can be recommended by a course. Another reference is "The Cell" since biochemistry is a study at molecular level and provides indepth explanations on DNA and Protein synthesis. $\endgroup$
    – bonCodigo
    Jul 4, 2015 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramachandran_plot $\endgroup$
    – inf3rno
    Jul 4, 2015 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


Given your background (not a biologist or chemist) you would probably find the introductory material in a biochemistry "lite" textbook more accessible/useful than a hardcore text for specialists. As a co-author of a biochemistry textbook, I can tell you that there are essentially three different classes, or types of texts.

  1. Comprehensive textbooks, of which I think Voet & Voet is an outstanding example, are designed for biochemistry majors who will be taking a full year, in-depth course, typically in the 3rd year of their undergraduate studies.
  2. The general introductory texts are usually thinner, and are designed to whip through the same material in half a year--aimed at life-science students in other majors. Some of these books that I described as "lite" are further targeted to, for example, nursing, medical, or dental school students.
  3. The third category of text tries to be multi-purpose, and appeal to both markets. The current versions of Stryer and Lehninger fall into this class (they are both excellent in my opinion); the instructors can cherrypick the readings if they want to use the book for a half-year course.

Voet, Voet, and Pratt (mentioned in the comments above) is a very good diluted version of Voet & Voet. As you can also tell from the comments, different texts have different flavors, and so which one is best depends on the reader.

It sounds like a more general "concept" based book might be useful for you (to provide background and context). The very thick "Molecular Biology of the Cell" by Alberts et al., has a lighter cousin named Essential Cell Biology which would be well worth looking into.

Keep in mind that when tackling a university-level biochemistry course the instructor has to assume that you have passed university level introductory courses in general chemistry and in organic chemistry. Biochemistry majors typically complete full year courses in both these subjects, as well as a watered-down version of physical chemistry.


I want to add a book to the list that may be easier for you since it takes it from the perspective of Physics:

Finkelstein & Ptitsyn, Protein Physics, Academic Press (2002). ISBN 0-12-256781-1.

It covers structure, thermodynamical processes in proteins, mechanism of folding, function, a bit of bioinformatics. It is designed as a master level course in Biophysics, but it takes most things from the beginning: it even explains what the partition function is (but it helps if you know it already). No prior knowledge in biochemistry is required.


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