N.B. Suggested books for Cambridge Natural Scientists are organised under Biology, Chemistry and Physics accordingly.
Frank Ryan, Virus X
Kate, Cambridge Natural Scientist"I read this book between first and second year of Natural Sciences, it is an excellent and fascinating account of virology and viral evolution from a more historical perspective - great for students intending to specialise within Pathology or other biomedical science options. The content should be accessible for anyone with A level Biology knowledge, and gives a good insight into the research behind virus discovery as well as some of the social and economic influences."
Steven Rose, Chemistry of Life
Harry, Oxford Biochemist"Very good at introducing major topics in biochemistry that you can not read about in depth in A-Level text books, e.g. immunology, cancer and etc. Although these books go quite into depth, they are very readable with just AS-A2 biology knowledge. I personally wrote in my personal statement that the topic areas of my interests are immunology and cancer and when doing so mentioned about the 'preview' into these topics through this book. Much recommended for discovering topics of interest. Immunology is particularly well covered in this book."
Nick Lane, Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
Harry, Oxford Biochemist"Very focused to evolution about the role of mitochondria in multicellularity as the name tells. Personally, I found the argument of oxidation behind senescence the most intriguing aspect about this book. Having said that level of this book can be quite challenging for A-Level students and therefore is only recommended for those wanting to explore evolution and metabolism topics and willing to take the challenge."
Clayden, Greeves, Warren and Wothers, Organic Chemistry
Kate, Cambridge Natural Scientist"This textbook covers the organic chemistry content of the first two years of Natural Sciences, with excellent explanations, examples and diagrams. The book follows a logical structure, and so pre-university students should be able to follow the first 10 chapters or so using their A level knowledge. Despite it's textbook format, it is still an interesting read and would provide excellent preparation for the Natural Sciences course since it gives more detailed explanations for chemical phenomena than students would have met at A level as well as explaining some of the anomalies often brushed over in pre-university studies."
Peter Sykes, Guidebook to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry
Matthew, Oxford Chemist"Sykes provides a solid introduction to the nature of organic chemistry. It has a consistent layout and approach that is useful for students to learn and adopt. The basic concepts are very much explored and repeated in this text."
James Keeler & Peter Wothers, Why Chemical Reactions Happen
Matthew, Oxford Chemist"Keeler and Worthers build an accurate picture of the overlap between physical and organic chemistry in explaining the key driving forces behind reactions. It is a suitable introductory text if one wishes to grasp a rough insight into the chemical world."
Peter Atkins, Short Introduction to Thermodynamics
Matthew, Oxford Chemist"Explores key themes in physical chemistry and prepares one for the mathematical prerequisites of the course."
· Primary: Homer Iliad (books 1-3 in Greek)
· Secondary: R. Buxton Imaginary Greece: the Contexts of Mythology (Cambridge, 1994)
Paul Krugman, End This Depression Now!
Edmond, Cambridge Economist"This book gives a neo-Keynesian approach to recovery after the Great Recession. In it, Krugman discusses the political obstacles that economists regularly face, such as convincing an electorate of the necessity of deficit spending. He provides a thorough analysis of the contrasting ideologies that would yield different economic results. With a clear link between economics and policy, this book gives a nuanced overview of the relationship between solid economic thinking and positive social impact."
Michael Sandel, What Money Can't Buy
Edmond, Cambridge Economist"With riveting anecdotes about the exploitative nature of capitalist markets, Sandel argues that not everything has a price and can be monetized - despite what conventional economic wisdom may propose. He poses increasingly philosophical questions about the role of markets in everyday life, giving readers more questions than answers and certainly calling into question the purpose of economics."
Partha Dasgupta, Economics: A Very Short Introduction
Edmond, Cambridge Economist"The importance of economics is taught through the stories of 2 children born in different parts of the world, whose fortunes are determined by sheer luck. It exposed me to development economics, as well as its tight link with sociological, anthropological, geographical and political issues. It gives a concise, entry-level exposition of the problems the world faces and the tools we have to aid others in need. A definite must-read."
"Reading current trends news on tech besides solidifying A-Levels Maths and Physics is important to show that you don't just study for exams."
Edward Hallett Carr, What is History?
Jian, Oxford Historian"Carr’s What is History is rumoured to be the most often cited book in History UCAS applications. It is easy to see why. The book deconstructs History to provide a top notch introduction to thesubject – laying out the conceptual challenges and subtleties expected of any future History student."
Edward Said, Orientalism
Jian, Oxford Historian"When first published, Said’s Orientalism changed the direction of historical study, starting the so called ‘literary turn’. In Orientalism Said explores imperialism as a cultural construct, noting the way the Orient is perceived in the Occident in order to facilitate empire."
Boyd, R. and Silk, J., How Humans Evolved
Diamond, J. Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Suceed
Glanville Williams: Learning the Law (Fifteenth Edition)
Leslie, Oxford Lawyer"Introduces many of the important legal skills and techniques an aspiring law student would love to know. It is also useful because it clears up common misconceptions about the law and helps one to avoid potential pitfalls in the interviews. At times, I find it insightful yet not a very heavy read. In fact it is an enjoyable and light read compared to some of the cases you'll have to deal with in a law degree. Overall a great introductory text to the aspiring law student."
Nicholas J McBride: Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University
Leslie, Oxford Lawyer"An insightful and practical guide for prospective law applicants. In fact for those of you who are not yet firmly decided on your future career path, the "Why law" section will be of benefit in helping you to make your choice. It's written in an accessible and readable way. At times the book challenges your views and perspectives, which is a good way to set you thinking. The only limitation of the book might be that it is UK focused but if you're applying to Oxford or Cambridge, this is definitely a good book to have"
A Very Short Introduction, Timothy Gowers
Maxime, Oxford Mathematician"An amalgamation of basic school mathematics that may serve as a good recap and some interesting mathematics that A level does not deal with. A good, short read. "
Carnival, Martin Gardener
Maxime, Oxford Mathematician"An interesting read with a flavour of mathematics that is not often found in schools. A perfect book to stretch your capability for thinking outside of the box."
Fundamentals of materials science and engineering, William Callister
Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers, James Shackelford
Jason, Oxford Materials Scientist"Very good books for those who are planning to study materials science for the first time. They cover almost every concept leant in the 1st year of undergraduate. Although some of the calculation bits are little bit difficult for pre-university students, it is understandable once the steps are followed carefully. Other than that, the general description of materials is very useful and easy to understand to get an insight of materials science."
· Ashcroft F., Life at the Extremes
· Neil S., Your Inner Fish
· Jones S., The Language of the Genes
Cox & Forshaw, Why does E=mc^2
Kate, Cambridge Natural Scientist"A great book which explores Einstein's theory of relativity in a much easier to understand way. Keeping equations to a minimum and using no more than GCSE level (or below) maths along with excellent diagrams and explanations... The book also describes how this famous equation relates to our everyday lives - for example how the sun releases its energy and why nuclear power is so efficient.
I included this book in my personal statement and compared it with Einstein's original text - I would highly recommend reading both books, since although 'Why does E=mc^2' is easier to read and understand, Einstein gives a more formal and in depth derivation which is definitely worth a look if you are particularly interested in the 'proof' of the equation and can cope with the slightly old-fashioned language and context."
Politics (PPE Oxford; HSPS Cambridge)
The Pig That Wants to be Eaten: And Ninety-Nine Other Thought Experiments (2010), Julian Baggini
Luke, Oxford PPE"This book has lots of thought experiments which are devices used to express a philosophical idea in a clear way to the reader. It is a perfect introduction to philosophy for those who haven’t studied it before, and contains a range of different scenarios that could be referenced in a personal statement. Furthermore, it would be excellent interview preparation to be acquainted with the use of thought experiments, as these could be used in order to express a complex philosophical idea."