I enjoyed my high school chemistry class partly because I enjoyed the subject and partly because it was taught by the best teacher in the whole school, Patsy Mueller. Despite this, I never took another chemistry class. I never tried to avoid it, it was just never in the syllabus. Consequently, I know embarrassingly little about chemistry.
Peter Atkins' book is 244 beautiful, glossy pages. It's easy to read, even for non-chemists. Each molecule is diagrammed, described, and related in structure to other molecules:
FORMALDEHYDE CH2OAnd that's just the first two sentences about formaldehyde! Each molecule gets anywhere from a paragraph to several pages of explanation, and there are many full-color photos of compounds in actions.
We can think of the formaldehyde molecule as being obtained by removing two hydrogen atoms from a methanol molecule - one from the carbon atom and one from the oxygen atom. That is, in fact, the origin of the name aldehyde (from alcohol dehydrogenated) given to compounds like formaldehyde that contain the group -CHO.
This book is educational and fun to read. It's also something that can be enjoyed a molecule at a time. As of today, I'm putting myself on the molecule-a-day plan.