New Release: Unit 14 Nomenclature Part B & Unit 15 Conjugation and Aromaticity are now available for purchase through the site. You can purchase the Semester 1 book for $40 at the Organic Chemistry Stores (W1-22) of the University of Alberta.

About Dr. Christine Brzezowski

Founder of Chemistry Confidential

My Students Call Me Dr. B.

I was born and raised in Edmonton, Canada and graduated from the University of Alberta with an Honors degree in Chemistry. I went on to study organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where I met my husband and earned my PhD. Next, I was a lecturer of organic chemistry at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City for 13 years. After moving back to Edmonton with my family in 2001, I taught at the University of Alberta for another 15 years. I estimate I was the teacher of close to 15,000 students. I quit in December 2016 to experiment with other ways to help students learn. This book is one of the results.

Dr. Christine Brzezowski Founder of Chemistry Confidential
Dr. Christine Brzezowski Teaching Organic Chemistry

Why I Wrote This Book (and Plan to Write More)

In the early 2000’s, as textbook prices were hovering around $150, I decided to go “textbook-free”. I slowly developed my own set of crystal-clear notes, relevant problems and detailed solutions. Eventually I sold these through the stockroom as a booklet for a fair price. This booklet was popular with my students and other people’s students. In class my notes, problems, lectures and exams were clear, well-organized and totally integrated. It was a stress-free way to learn organic chemistry. My classes were always full and students patiently waited a year (or more) or totally reorganized their schedules so they could get in.


When I quit my lecturer position, I wrote this book to bring you and as many other people as I could that same stress-free experience. I worked hard on every sentence so you could get the most concise and clear explanations of the essential topics of introductory organic chemistry. I made sure that every single problem was both relevant and useful. Unlike standard textbooks, I included all the answers. I did not pad my book with tangential “fun” or unnecessary advanced topics because I believe these distract you from learning the core of organic chemistry. They also cause the book to be both less efficient and longer (i.e. more expensive). I organized the book so you can easily find and learn a single topic. Or you can also start from the very beginning (i.e. carbon atoms bonding to hydrogen atoms) and proceed in a logical and step-wise progression until you understand the most difficult reactions and mechanisms. I believe it is possible for you to learn and understand introductory organic chemistry just by using this and the 2nd semester book.

I expect to publish the 2nd semester organic chemistry book in September 2023. Next, I plan to write books for both high school and general (college) chemistry. I have been approached by many parents to tutor their high school students. There is a huge (even desperate) need for effective resources at the high school level.

I love to teach and I love to write. I also love organic chemistry; it is a beautiful science. I hope you will come to love it (or at least appreciate it) too.

Organic Chemistry Confidential Semester 1 Book Cover

Thank You to the Many People Who Helped Me

First, I would like to thank my husband, Fred West, for his continual encouragement and patience while I wrote this book and during the long time it has taken for it to find an audience. He didn’t give up even when I did.

I would like to thank my family. Fred and my boys never questioned my quixotic idea to quit my day job and write a new kind of help book. I am grateful to Julian for offering his impeccable stylistic advice. Peter and Christopher were always available to give me advice and support. I particularly value the discussions I had with all of them about how students learn these days.

Thanks to my friends who showed their interest even when the going was slow. Shasta Desbarates was always there to give me advice and support and to go for long walks in the river valley. I thank Andrew Yeung and Amanda Yee for believing in this book so much it catalysed a rebirth 3 years after it was first published.

I would also like to thank Tina Grant and Fred West for their expert scientific editing and proofreading. Cathy McPhalen graciously gave me early and very valuable advice on formatting. Cam McDonnell kindly offered me early advice on design.

This book was originally published under the title Rescue Education’s Organic Chemistry 1st Semester Topics since I envisioned it mainly as a help book. It experienced some modest success. This new version, Organic Chemistry Confidential: How it Really Works, has exactly identical content. The change in title and concept reflects the fact that people use it in more ways than simply as a help book.