Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Best Classical Mechanics Textbook

  1. Mar 17, 2010 #1
    Dear forum,

    I recently took an analytic mechanics course at UCLA in which the average grade on the first midterm was something like a 27 out of 80. The teacher was a brilliant man but unfortunately could not convey the material to the students. I don't think anyone felt as though they had gained a better understanding of classical mechanics after taking the course. So I have taken it upon myself to buy a textbook on the subject and learn the material on my own over the summer. What are your recommendations and or bad experiences? The book we used in our course was "Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems" by Thornton and Marion 5th ed. which seemed like a good read based on the short amount of exposure I had to it. But I would like to know your opinions before I get too involved in a bad book.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2010 #2
    I see Goldstein's classical mechanics listed as a top book anytime this question gets asked: https://www.amazon.com/Classical-Mechanics-3rd-Herbert-Goldstein/dp/0201657023

    I self taught classical mechanics using a book by Finn mostly:https://www.amazon.com/Classical-Me...=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268843737&sr=1-8

    I also have Lev Landau's book, but I don't think I could have used that as a first introduction. I didn't get it until I was already comfortable with Lagrangian and some Hamiltonian formalism.

    I can never stick to one book though, so I would frequently check out Taylor's book, Morin's book, and Gregory's book (with the moon on the cover).

    I found that each one treated a topic or two better than the other ones, so I had Finn's book permanently checked out of the library and would periodically use it with one of the other ones if it seemed to explain a topic particularly well.

    *I never got to use Goldstein's....it was 'stolen' from the library. I have seen people list his book as their favorite time and time again though, so I wanted to check it out. I asked the library to replace the stolen copy many times....but we're still Goldstein-less. lol
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Mar 17, 2010 #3
    Goldstein is at a much higher level than Marion/Thornton. How rigorous are you willing to go? The Marion book is fine if you only need a very basic knowledge, however I would much rather
    suggest Classical Mechanics by Gregory for self study which is *about* at Marion's level.

    Also, here are some links:
    https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=1819 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Mar 19, 2010 #4
    Hmm, well actually I really only need enough to be prepared for the physics GRE. So I'm not sure how in depth Goldstein's book is compared to the material covered on the GRE. I will take a peak at the text by Gregory. Thanks much.
  6. Mar 19, 2010 #5
    I'm in a classical mechanics course right now. Thornton and Marion is required, but I went ahead and bought Taylor's Classical Mechanics as well. I like Taylor's book much better.
  7. Mar 20, 2010 #6
    I used Taylor for my class, but I also supplemented with Marion/Thornton and Gregory. I would probably rank my preference as Taylor > Marion and Thornton > Gregory mostly because M+T has more examples than Gregory, though they're all pretty good books.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook