There appears to be a miniature subgenre of the memoir which is the chemical memoir. I only know two of these books, Primo Levi’s Periodic Table and this one. In this book Sacks reflects on his adolescence, growing up in wartime Britain at the same time as he describes his love affair with chemistry. As Sacks was growing up, so was the discipline of chemistry and many grand chemical epiphanies of international importance occurred during the time of Sacks' boyhood.
Sacks manages to tell the tale of the discovery of the periodic table and various elemental discoveries while also telling stories about his family, his ancestors and the general atmopshere of the UK for a young neurotic introverted Jewish boy with brilliant parents and a large warm extended family.