5 Best Chemistry Books Coming Out This Season

If you’re a chemistry fan, you’re probably familiar with Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements” song, but what about the elements that have been officially recognized since the song came out in 1959? Physicist Helen Arney has it covered with additional elements included.


If you enjoyed that song, here’s your reading list for the spring/summer season.

*Please note that it is extremely important that you support your local independent bookstore right now. Many of them are suffering from being closed during the pandemic. You can check if your local bookstore is shipping by visiting their website or finding them on IndieBound.org. In each post during the pandemic, I’ll be linking to some stores that are still shipping, last I heard.


Elementary: The Periodic Table Explained by James Russell


51tzKr4M-xL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_James Russell uses his lively, accessible, and engaging narrative to tell the story behind all the elements we now know about. From learning about the creation of the first three elements, hydrogen, lithium, and helium, in the big bang, through to oxygen and carbon, which sustain life on earth—along with the many weird and wonderful uses of elements as varied as fluorine, arsenic, krypton, and einsteinium—even the most unscientifically minded will be enthralled by this fascinating subject.

On sale July 1. Shop: BookPeople | Anderson’s | Book Culture


The Elements We Live By: How Iron Helps Us Breathe, Potassium Lets Us See, and Other Surprising Superpowers of the Periodic Table by Anja Royne


81N5+U70OdLPhysicist and award-winning author Anja Røyne takes readerson an astonishing journey through chemistry and physics, introducing the building blocks from which humans—and the world—are made. Not only does Røyne explain why our bodies need iron, phosphorus, silicon, potassium, and many more elements in just the right amounts in order to function, she also leads readers around the world to where these precious elements are found (some of them in ever-shrinking quantities).

On sale June 9. Shop: BookPeople | Anderson’s | Book Culture


Periodic Table of Poems by Peter Davern 


51zGb50D2EL._SX376_BO1,204,203,200_The Periodic Table of Poems is a unique collection of 93 short poems that explores the properties and nuances of each element in the periodic table. Professor of chemical sciences at the University of Limerick, Peter Davern discusses the science, history, and quirks of each element: things like why potassium reacts explosively with water, what about arsenic makes it both a deadly poison and a cure for syphilis, and how mercury inspired the term “mad as a hatter”.

On sale April 28. Shop: BookPeople | Anderson’s | Book Culture


Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything by Tim James


61Pbzz2kXtLNew in paperback! Chemist and science educator Tim James’s 2019 release Elemental has just arrived in paperback. Here readers are treated to the story of the periodic table from its ancient Greek roots, when you could count the number of elements humans were aware of on one hand, to the modern alchemists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who have used nuclear chemistry and physics to generate new elements and complete the periodic table. The Wall Street Journal says, “With hand-drawn diagrams, wacky humor and assorted facts, Elemental is great fun, taking us to realms beyond anything Mendeleyev ever dreamed of.”

Shop: BookPeopleAnderson’s | Book Culture


Alchemy of Disease: How Chemicals and Toxins Cause Cancer and Other Illnesses by John Whysner


41gbXXid-2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Toxicologist John Whysner offers an accessible and compelling history of toxicology and its key findings. The Alchemy of Disease features discussions of toxicological problems past and present, including DDT, cigarettes and other carcinogens, lead poisoning, fossil fuels, chemical warfare, pharmaceuticals―including opioids―and the efficacy of animal testing.

On sale May 1. Shop: BookPeople 


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