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Intro Physics AP Physics 1&2 Textbooks

  1. Aug 2, 2015 #1
    I will be a sophomore this year, and I intend to self-study AP Physics 1&2. I took a non-math based semester intro course last year, so I'm basically going in blind. I've done my research and I'm intending to use Physics: Principles with Applications (7th Edition) (Douglas C. Giancoli) and College Physics (9th Edition) (Raymond A. Serway/Chris Vuille). My questions are: are those two books good, well written, books and will they be more than sufficient for AP Physics? If anyone has any other recommendations I would like to hear them, but note that I will be in a two semester college pre-calc course for my math credit this year, so anything calc-based I can't make use of, and I want books/resources that are heavy in mathematics.
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  3. Aug 2, 2015 #2
    I used Serway's "Physics for Scientists and Engineers", which was quite good in my opinion. However, this was calculus based, so I reckon that his College Physics books are algebra-based and also very good.

    Those two things are pretty much exclusive. Algebra only goes so far...
  4. Aug 2, 2015 #3
    I should say I can't make much use of anything calc-based as I have taught myself the basics, but nothing near the level that a physics book would use.
  5. Aug 2, 2015 #4
    Don't put calculus based physics books on a pedestal for their use of calculus. If you can take derivatives and integrals of functions they're just as easy as an algebra based textbook. Trust me, I've used both.
  6. Aug 2, 2015 #5
    I'm not that confident working with those operators yet, so it just seems like added stress right now. Besides my Junior I'll be self-studying both AP Physics C courses while in AP Calc AB, so I can wait till then to really get of know calc-based physics.
  7. Aug 2, 2015 #6
    I have both the algebra based giancoli and the calculus based 1. The algebra based one is extremely unclear. The calculus one is clear and is a decent introduction to physics. There is not that much calculus in mechanics. There may be a few problems you cannot do, because of lack of knowledge of derivates and integrals. I would get old editions of both. Read the calculus based one as the main text and try problems in both. If you see a derivative or integral sign skipped that problem.

    The laws are explained in good and concise manner. I do advice to watch a video or find course notes regarding the sketch of problems. Force diagrams in particular.

    I would advise to self study calculus once you have gone through pre-calculus. Learning the basics of calculus gives you an intuitive understanding of rates of change work and how different aspects of a physical phenomena are related, and how calculus can show it's beauty.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
  8. Aug 2, 2015 #7
    The 6th edition of Giancoli is only $40 on amazon, but it's more than 10 years old, does that age matter much? (The same with Giancoli calc-based, the third edition was printed in 2000 but I cant really afford the 4th edition. Will the age of the book affect the material that much?) With Serway the 9th edition is only three years older than the 10th so it really isn't that big of a deal.
  9. Aug 2, 2015 #8


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  10. Aug 2, 2015 #9
    Mechanics has not changed in many many years. Find whats cheaper. I bought a copy of giancoli both books, the calculus and algebra one, for no more than 20 dollars combined. New editions, sometimes correct errors, however, most of the time as in the case of these two books, the publisher and author are greedy.

    I used Serway as a supplement to Giancoli calculus based. Serway was a great book for its purpose, however, some explanations can be wordy and the language a bit harder to understand. I bought an old edition of Serway for 4.25 shipped.

    I stand by, buying both editions of Giancoli. Purchase the cheaper editions of both.
  11. Aug 2, 2015 #10
  12. Aug 2, 2015 #11


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    It's certainly better than most.
  13. Aug 2, 2015 #12
    Most introductory Calculus and Algebra based physics are the same. Some are easier to read then others, mostly on the layout of the actual pages.
  14. Aug 2, 2015 #13


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    Algebra based: Many throw equations at you with no justification or reasoning. Touger does better than most in this regard.

    Calculus based texts have wide ranges of quality.
  15. Aug 2, 2015 #14
    For AP calculus, since you are studying them I believe. I would get an old edition of Stewart, the cheapest and a copy of Simmons Calculus First edition.
    Simmons can be had for under 10 dollars.

    Thomas Calculus with Analytical Geometry 3rd ed, is a better book. However, it may not fit your use of passing the AP examinations. I would suggest buying this book after your examinations. Work from it, and then tackle Spivak or Apostol.
  16. Aug 2, 2015 #15
    I'll look into some older editions, I have no problem with paying $100 total for all these books at 1 off the current edition, but if you think it's not that big of a deal I'll go back another edition.
  17. Aug 2, 2015 #16
    Ofcourse, but if we compare the most popular : Giancoli, Serway, Tipler, Freedman and Young, then there really is not a difference.

    The opposite would be Alonso and Finn three volume physics undergrad books. These are more difficult.
  18. Aug 2, 2015 #17
    Most books are not worth 100 dollars. I would pay 300 for a book such as, Friedberg Linear Algebra, even though it can be had for under 20. The cost of a book usually has no relationship to its value or knowledge within.
  19. Aug 2, 2015 #18
    When it comes to math it doesn't have to be geared towards the exams, math is really my favorite subject, and I enjoy learning different parts that aren't really taught in school.
  20. Aug 2, 2015 #19
    The ones I've found are $30-40 each
  21. Aug 2, 2015 #20
    you aren't looking hard enough. Have you tried abebooks?
  22. Aug 2, 2015 #21
    I've heard of abebooks, but so far I've been more concerned with finding good books than getting them for cheep. What are some other good websites to find them for cheep?
  23. Aug 2, 2015 #22
  24. Aug 2, 2015 #23
  25. Aug 3, 2015 #24
    I would recommend Serge Lang's First Course in Calculus for the single-variable calculus and Hubbard's Vector Calculus (latest edition) for the multivariable calculus.
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