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Best book to start with?

  1. Jan 31, 2013 #1
    Hi. I am currently working through some math textbooks (calculus, linear algebra, differential equations) over the course of the next 2 years. I work at a hedge fund now trading derivatives, and although the type of trading I do does not use mathematical modeling, I want to be able to enhance my production by trading options using these maths. However, I also want to learn physics when I am done with this because it is interesting to me and I know several traders who use principles of physics in their trading.

    Anyway I need a suggestion for best textbook to start with. I have constantly heard three recommendations:

    1) Conceptual Physics by Hewitt. From what I hear it is good for concepts but severly lacking in math, which is pointless. So, is it worth reading this book just because it helps conceptually? Or would an intro book with more math also help with the fundamentals conceptually? Like, should I read this book plus a beginner book with math? I don't want to have to read two 700 page books that both say the same thing.

    2) Physics by Halliday and Resnik. Does it do a good job explaining the concepts, on top of the math? Or should I also read the hewitt book?

    3) 3 volume Feynman lectures. I heard these are like the best books ever for physics. However, some say they are not for physics beginners. Should I read the Halliday book first, plus some other basic physics books, before reading Feynman lecture?

    I have no problem spending a few years teaching myself various branches of physics for fun and to add to my trading. But I do not like to waste time, and don't want to read the same concepts in 10 different books if I dont have to.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2013 #2


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    Not pointless. Great book.

    No, it doesn't do a good job on either math or concepts.

    They're hard. I would not read them as your first book.

    You've got it backwards. Reading more books takes less time than reading one book. When you read more books, you can start with an easy one and work up. Also, if you don't understand something in book A, you can look at book B.

    Read Hewitt. You'll have questions as you read it, so post them on PF. Once we get to the end of that process you can worry about what book to read next.
  4. Jan 31, 2013 #3
    Great, thanks for the suggestions.

    I did not mean to say that I don't like to read different books in the sense that I want to jump ahead before I know what I am doing. I just didn't know if some of the books were the same things as one another, and reading them both would not be any different than just reading one.

    So, I should not get the halliday book then? What would come after Hewitt? I had the following 3 books on my list for after that. I know I am jumping way, way ahead, and I will take my time with each book even if it takes me forever, but I wanted to plan it out, so I looked at a college curriculum and googled the best textbook on each subject, and came up with the following list of how to teach myself (after I teach myself all the maths, of course)

    Conceptual physics by Hewitt

    Electricity and Magentism by Purcell

    Introduction to mathematical physics by Vaughn

    Introduction to modern physics by walecka

    Classical electromagnetism by franklin

    Introduction to Thermodynamics and Kinetic Theory of Matter by burshtein

    Introduction to modern optics by fowles

    Elementary Solid State Physics by omar

    Feynman lectures, vol 1-3

    The physical universe by shu

    A textbook of fluid mechanics by bansal

    Principles of quantum mechanics by Shankar

    Introduction to Elementary Particles by Griffiths

    Quarks and leptons, an introductory course in modern particle physics by halzen

    Spin in Particle Physics by Elliot leader

    Physics of sound by berg

    A first course in general relativity by schutz

    String theory volume one by pochinski

    String theory volume two by pochinski

    An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics

    All of that, with some chemistry mixed in, but my girlfriend is a chemist and she can help me along the way.

    Not sure if I have the order right at all. I know I am crazy for planning that far ahead
  5. Jan 31, 2013 #4


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    The level of difficulty for the next books depends on how you do with the first ones. I suggest that you work through the math and physics texts that you have now and worry about next steps later.
  6. Jan 31, 2013 #5
    So just read Hewitt and see where I'm at? Sounds reasonable.
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