Top 4 Biology Books for A Level Students | Summer Reading

Updated: Jun 4

Want to keep your brain sharp over summer? Here are some fantastic reads for all of you Biology students out there, the latest in our summer reading series!


1) This is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay


For many Biology students, a career in Medicine is the dream, and there is no better book to illustrate the trials and tribulations of a junior doctor than this personal account by Adam Kay.

An award-winning bestseller, Kay takes us through his day to day experiences in a diary-like fashion, introducing detailed explanations as to why certain treatments are reserved for certain patients, while simplifying important medical concepts to illustrate exactly why a patient is suffering the way they are.


Perhaps most notably, Kay portrays exactly how the life and even day of a junior doctor can go from high to low in a matter of seconds, and by including the reader so intimately with the story of every patient manages to capture exactly how he is feeling and how the patient is feeling without stating it directly.


The book is littered throughout with hilarious anecdotes about particular patients, and this complements the emotion fantastically. It makes clear to the reader how everything can change in seconds, but it is laugh out loud funny, and a must-read for anyone who is considering choosing a medicine degree, or who enjoys a good laugh and has an interest in how the life of a junior doctor is from day to day.


2) On the Origin of Species - Charles Darwin


Perhaps one of the most important works of scientific literature in history, On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is the foundation text of evolutionary biology. The theory of natural selection is such an important and significant ideology for the development of science, not to mention that this is extensively covered in most A Level exam boards.


The content is varied and discusses many important ideas, notably competition between species and variation between individuals in a species, a point he illustrates with reference to domesticated pigeon breeding.


To familiarise yourself with this text will not only develop your understanding of these fundamental concepts, it will put you in a fantastic position for when it comes to studying this for your exams, that extra understanding you pick up from the book may well help you boost your marks when it comes to next summer.


3) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot


This is really an incredible book, the story of a poor black tobacco farmer in the 1950’s who died of cervical cancer. Without her or her family’s permission, her cells were then used for research and every single research laboratory in the world uses them - known as HeLa.


This book gives a real insight into the life of Henrietta Lacks. Her cells have been used to develop countless important medical treatments such as the polio vaccine, while providing the basis for the development of gene mapping and in vitro fertilisation.


Skloot tries to capture the race struggles of the time, and the book really opens a lot of questions about rights and how the law affects how we control our own bodies. The story also delves into her family and how they still struggle with the day to day realisation of what happened all those years ago. If you are at all interested in ethics or research biology, it is an essential read.


4) The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins


A poll in 2017 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Royal Society’s best science book prize named this as the most influential science book of all time. This is really one to go for if you are at all interested in genetics and what makes us work. Dawkins discusses various themes, from ‘replicators’ and the primordial soup to the suggestion of competition between genes and the organism. It is a fantastic read and will open your eyes to a much wider view of genetics.


Blog Post Crafted by Joe


Joe is currently working towards his BSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Warwick.


When he’s not studying, Joe tutors GCSE and A Level Science subjects in his home city of Coventry.


Joe can often be found at ridiculous times in the morning, bird ringing and searching for interesting bird and butterfly species at his local nature reserve near Coventry, or venturing further afield to find rarities on the East Coast of Norfolk.

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