1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Any good all-around physics books?

  1. Feb 5, 2016 #1
    When searching for a nice introductory physics textbook for self-study, I have found a few books that others have claimed to cover the majority of physics - from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics - albeit in a manner only intended to base a more intensive study of the individual topics. Of course, I am quite skeptical of any such book, but I have seen so many positive reviews for several of them. What do you think about books like these, and do you have any particular recommendations? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2016 #2
    I now realize that there is a portion of the site for textbook discussion, but I'm not sure if a moderator has to move it or what. So, while I'd appreciate help here, I'll probably reword my post and put it in the correct section. Sorry for the mistake.
  4. Feb 5, 2016 #3
    I do not understand the skepticism. I would think it would be natural that an introductory textbook would have as a goal, to base (prepare) individual subjects that would include greater detail and depth. I think most introductory books are quite good at providing this preparation, for example Young, Resnick and Halliday, Knight (most common) or Alonso and Finn, Ivey and Hume, Beiser.
  5. Feb 5, 2016 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Can you give us some specific examples of the books that you're referring to, so we can all be sure we're talking about the same thing?
    I'll move this thread for you. If you need to make a request to the moderators (mentors) like this in the future, feel free to use the "Report" link at the bottom of an appropriate post and explain your situation/request.
  6. Feb 5, 2016 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  7. Feb 5, 2016 #6
    I just think it's odd to discuss a topic knowing your readers most likely have no firm understanding of its prerequisites, but thanks for the suggestions, and I may try out those books.
    Sorry, I was just looking in the "edit" page.
    Though others may frown upon a post simply made of two links, I find the second to be quite helpful, so thank you.
  8. Feb 6, 2016 #7
    For a physics introduction, assuming you are at the level of starting calculus or completed calculus (first semester), I would recommend old editions of Serway, Giancoli, Halliday/Resnick. If you have completed calculus 2 and are comfortable with the ideas of it (including vectors), then you have two paths you can take. You can continue to use one of the books mentioned above and continue onto the electricity and magnetism part of the book (typically volume 2). Or you can learn mechanics the right way by using Kleppner and Kolenkow/ Taylor Mechanics. Make sure your calculus 2 skills are good before going through these last 2 books. NO SOLUTIONS MANUALS!!!!

    oops, after reading my post it seems I applied to skip the above intro physics book if you have completed Calculus 2. What I meant to say was to complete the mechanics portion and choose your next step after that.
  9. Feb 16, 2016 #8
    Any textbook by Resnick &Halliday will cause all but the most determined to flee from physics forever. The only textbooks that I have found that are absolutely clear and simple in their explanations are those by Richard Feynman. They are slightly out of date at the modern edge, but accurate and innovative in every respect. They are difficult to obtain since they are out of print and highly valued by those who own them. You can find his lectures online at the following address:

  10. Feb 16, 2016 #9
    Thanks for the suggestion. I actually already decided to start with his books, and they're currently in the mail. Your comment backs up my trust in their quality.
  11. Feb 16, 2016 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I find this, quite a bit exaggerated. I began learning through Halliday - Resnick books when I was in high school back in 83, and they really helped me a lot. It is true that do it the hard way, but without much thought and enough difficult problems to solve, there is no real learning in Physics. Of course, it's a matter of personal preference to use them or not, and there are many other great books as well. I would also recommend Schaum's outline series for good theory reviews and lots of good problems, in order to be prepared for more complete / difficult subjects. Feynman's books / lectures are unparalleled and I highly recommend them too.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  12. Feb 16, 2016 #11
  13. Feb 17, 2016 #12


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Feynman lectures aren't going to help you learn how to do physics. You can read them, and then still not know how to solve a single, solitary, physics problem. They're also not hard to obtain nor out of print, they are reprinted in several iterations available on amazon for 20 dollars and free online, which nixes the "hard to obtain."

    Pure hyperbole. Physics, 4th and 5th edition, volume 1/2 are two of the best introductory texts available, and a great preparation before you dive into K&K and Purcell for the uninitiated.

    The original OP makes little sense, and he never clarified the post when asked. Could you answer jtbell?
  14. Feb 18, 2016 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2016 Award

    The Feynman Lectures are among the best (theoretical) physics books ever written. If you don't learn how to do physics from them, I don't know from which books you should learn it.

    Concerning classical physics the best theory books are those by Sommerfeld (6 volumes called Lectures on Theoretical Physics). Then there is the 10-volume series by Landau and Lifshitz et al. Then all books by Weinberg are great, but they are more for specialized and written for the advanced graduate level.

    Books like Haliday&Resnick are more colorful... ;-)).
  15. Feb 18, 2016 #14


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    The older ones aren't that colorful. ;-)

    I understand what you're saying - L&L is excellent, the Feynman lectures are excellent reads, etc. I just don't think they're an appropriate introduction to physics (assuming many students in the US don't take a real physics class in high school), much the same way we wouldn't start undergraduates out with Goldstein for mechanics.

    My personal opinion is that they're best read after you've got some physics under your belt already (you've maybe gone through H&R volume 1/2, solving many of the problem sets). The lack of problems (although there is that extra problem manual you can buy, not sure of the quality) is a sore point for actually doing physics.
  16. Feb 19, 2016 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2016 Award

    Sure, these books are for introductory (and also advanced) theory lectures. In Germany we usually start with theory in the 2nd or 3rd semester. My university in Frankfurt is an exception. There one starts right away in the 1st semester with "naive" Newtonian mechanics and an introduction to the most important mathematical methods (vector algebra and calculus; ordinary differential equations etc.).

    Haliday and Resnick is for sure a good book for the experimental physics course.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Similar Discussions: Any good all-around physics books?