• Author Tim James
  • Narrator Roger Davis
  • Publisher Little, Brown Book Group
  • Run Time 5 hours and 13 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre Popular science.

Listen to a sample

What to expect


‘A hugely entertaining tour of the periodic table and the 118 elements that are the basic building blocks of everything’ Daily Mail

In 2016, with the addition of four final elements – nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson – to make a total of 118 elements, the periodic table was finally complete, rendering any pre-existing books on the subject obsolete.

Tim James, the science YouTuber and secondary-school teacher we all wish we’d had, provides an accessible and wonderfully entertaining ‘biography of chemistry’ that uses stories to explain the positions and patterns of elements in the periodic table. Many popular science titles tend to tell the history of scientific developments, leaving the actual science largely unexplained; James, however, makes use of stories to explain the principles of chemistry within the table, showing its relevance to everyday life.

Quirkily illustrated and filled with humour, this is the perfect book for students wanting to learn chemistry or for parents wanting to help, but it is also for anyone who wants to understand how our world works at a fundamental level. The periodic table, that abstract and seemingly jumbled graphic, holds (nearly) all the answers.

As James puts it, elements are ‘the building blocks nature uses for cosmic cookery: the purest substances making up everything from beetroot to bicycles.’

Whether you’re studying the periodic table for the first time or are simply interested in the fundamental building blocks of the universe – from the core of the sun to the networks in our brains – Elemental is the perfect guide.

Website: timjamesscience.com YouTube: timjamesScience Twitter: @tjamesScience

Critics Review

  • A hugely entertaining tour of the periodic table and the 118 elements that are the basic building blocks of everything

    Daily Mail
  • Perfect for students and newcomers to science writing. . . . From the composition of the stars to the elements most useful to humans, James offers a cheerful selection of short, fascinating chapters suitable for reading in any order. A wide audience can enjoy this accessible peak into the history of chemistry and the periodic table.

    Publishers Weekly

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