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Are these textbooks okay for self-study?

  1. Feb 9, 2013 #1
    I am a junior in high school and I plan on being a physicist. I have begun self-studying physics because my classes bore me and physics interests me so much.

    I am curious about what books I should read. I am too poor, being only a high school student with no job, to afford the regular textbooks, so I have resorted to buying Dover books. These are the specific titles.

    Classical Mechanics by Corben
    Principles of Electrodynamics by Schwartz
    Theoretical Physics by Joos

    Ordinary Differential Equations by Tenenbaum

    This is what I have for now. I understand that I will need to do lots of exercises, and I think that I will use Schaum's Outlines for that, and as many other exercises as I can find. Please tell me if there is anything of great importance that is left out of these books. Again, this is just for now. I plan on getting the regular textbooks in the future when I actually have the classes associated with them. I also plan on buying the Feynman Lectures on Physics in the near future to enhance my understanding of the concepts. Thanks in advance for any information.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2013 #2


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    How much physics exposure have you already had? I am not familiar with the physics books you listed, but they appear to be aimed for a more advanced audience than high school juniors.
  4. Feb 9, 2013 #3
    I have already taught myself single and multivariable calculus and have read through the first volume of the Feynman Lectures on a torrent.
  5. Feb 9, 2013 #4
    There are better books than those for self study, just because you can't buy a text book doesn't mean you can't get ahold of it. Are there any universities local to you?
  6. Feb 9, 2013 #5


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    Given your math background I would suggest picking up used copies of Kleppner and Kolenkow's An Introduction to Mechanics and Purcell's Electricity and Magnetism. If you look around on the used book markets you can usually find these books for around the same price as the dover books.

    Note: If you read through volume 1 of the Feynman Lectures, then you should already know the material in Kleppner and Kolenkow. I recommend getting the book and working through it anyway because reviewing the basic mechanics material can only help and because the book has some really kick-*** problems.
  7. Feb 9, 2013 #6
    I used Tenenbaum as a reference when I was taking an introductory DE's course and I really liked it. I think it would be great for self-study. It can delve into a ton of details at times so try not to get too sidetracked by that. Schaum's DE's is great so definitely try to get a hold of it if you're interested.

    Personally, I found that practice was the best way to learn ODE's so if I were to do it again I might just rely on Schaum's to speed things up unless you're interested in the theory. I didn't care much for it but I found Boyce to be good for that but the book is not worth buying.

    Jorriss also makes a good point; check out your public library or university library. Not every book is for everyone so it may be worth your while to flip through some of the books there and you might find one you really like. I really do like Dover books, especially their great value, but I don't think I could ever learn a subject from them. They make really good references once you know the subject though.
  8. Feb 9, 2013 #7
    The closest college to me is a 30-45 minute drive and is a community college if that matters. I might try to see if I can find any good books there. I also might look into getting a used edition of one of the standard textbooks to supplement what I already have.
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