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Science Textbook Review: Instant Notes In Biochemistry by David Hames & Nigel Hooper

Updated on October 4, 2014

Are you a current, prospective or potential biochemistry student? If so then you may know a little of just what a deep, wide, and sometimes quite intimidating subject it is. Suffice it to say, there’s a whole lot of this subject to go around: no danger of running out of material if you were sharing it out!

With that in mind, it’s important to take some care when you are choosing the appropriate textbooks in order to get your biochemistry studies off to the best possible start. You may well need more than one when choosing biochemistry books, bearing in mind your tutors’ recommendations. But when it comes to a handy, easily transportable guide to the absolute basics of biochemistry – without being too dumbed down – what book should you choose? Based on my biochemistry studies (successful, thank-you – or rewarded with a BSc, at any rate), I would personally go with Instant Notes in Biochemistry by Hames and Hooper, published by Taylor & Francis Group.

Buy Instant Notes Science Textbooks On Amazon

As a relatively small book, if not quite pocket-size – it weighs in at four hundred and thirty-eight pages making up thirteen chapters – it packs in a phenomenal – and definitely in no way dumbed down – amount of information. (If only it were possible to simply upload its contents to the brain a la ‘The Matrix’ – you’d be all set for your final degree year instantly!)

Learn The Essentials of Biochemistry for the Newbie Student

Instant Notes in Biochemistry has segments subdivided into chapters that cover all the essential areas for a first year biochemistry student: cell parts, amino acids and proteins, cell signalling, transcription and translation, macromolecular anabolism and catabolism, energy production etc. (Frankly I was still finding it useful – nay, well-nigh essential – well into my final year.)


Public domain.
Public domain. | Source

I think one of the best things about Instant Notes In Biochemistry in particular, and the Instant Notes series in general, is the Key Notes section at the beginning of every chapter. Heading up a chapter that might already be regarded as a highly condensed account of a complex area of a still more complex subject, the Key Notes section boils that area down still further. Is that even possible? Well, (shrugs), search me, they seem to be able to do it somehow! And what a boon it is, when you’re thirty-six hours away from a major exam and then you suddenly realise that you’ve left out a hugely important part of your revision schedule… Commit those Key Notes to memory and at least you’re in with a fighting chance.

I found it especially good on the TCA, or tricarboxylic acid cycle: the means by which the cell produces energy for its metabolic functions. This is possibly the most crucial element of knowledge in the biochemistry student’s weaponry, and a real, solidly based comprehension of the subject can’t possibly be over-valued. If anything over and above any other factor helped to achieve this for me, then it was my copy of Instant Notes. Without unnecessary frills or undue simplification, it sets out the essentials of the cycle and how they fit together – and in such a way that any motivated, sufficiently bright student can ‘get it’

The illustrations in Instant Notes are a big part of its helpfulness for me. They are all black and white and often relatively simple, but so much the better. Any clearly set out aid to comprehension is a boon in this subject!

So, have I converted you to this excellent little example of condensed bio chemistry books? Are you going to go out and get yourself a copy of Instant Notes In Biochemistry? Because, for sure, as your essential primer to the subject, I really don’t think you could do better.


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