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Books I have and Books I need

  1. Apr 18, 2010 #1
    Books I have presently, good and not so good:
    Tipler and Mosca; Physics for Engineers
    Edwards and Penney; Calculus with Analytic Geometry
    Halliday and Resnick; Fundamentals of Physics Extended
    Irodov; Problem's in Physics (I don't know the exact title, but I'm sure you all know it)
    Stewart; Calculus
    Campbell and Reece; Biology (not 100% relevant but eh)
    Zumdahl; Physical Chemistry (I don't know exact the title)
    Pauling; General Chemistry
    Art of Problem solving vol I&II
    Couple of DeMystifieds (since I used to be even worse than presently......)
    Rowgaski; Calculus (AP + Multi)
    Schredier?; Linear Algebra
    Young and Freedman; University Physics Extended
    Feynman; Lectures on Physics & Q.E.D
    Benjamin Crowell; Complete series
    Motion Mountain series (Multiple Authors)
    Firk; Essential Physics (wasting space I suppose...)
    Kimball; College Physics (have yet to open)
    Goldstein; Classical Mechanics (I don't know if this is a *good* book, but I like it!)
    Brizard; Intro to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics (haven't opened yet)
    Maxwell; treatise on electricity and magnetism (i've covered maxwell's laws in a course...but I have a feeling this will blow me away)
    Griffiths; Introduction to Electrodynamics (I've hear this is fantastic, plan on reading...would you recommend a print copy?)
    Keisler; Infinitesimal approach to Calculus (it seems alright...)
    + Lots of random crap

    What is worth keeping and what is garbage?
    What is digital that is worth a print copy?

    I plan on majoring in Physics and possibly second major in Applied Maths (presently a Junior in high school). What books would best get me through this (I understand it is HEAVILY lacking in maths)? I plan on learning the majority of the material for my freshman and sophomore years over this year and the next. I've taken AP Physics C and AP Calc. Not planning on attending any good schools (MIT/Caltech or the like since I'm no where near good enough), more than likely GT.

    I'd say for a my position is okay off for now. I have a firm grasp of Introductory Calculus Based Physics and basics of Multi and Linear Algebra. How can I make myself considerably better? I have goals to make the upper levels of Physics Olympiad next year....this year I hardly got 15 (answered 20, missed 4) on the first round....I have improved significantly since then and am hoping I can have some small consolation in my Physics Bowl scores....

    For anything I should buy, where from? I've heard Alibris and Amazon are okay for online book purchasing...should I try the GT bookstore (it's close by)?

    Also...what should be my progression of study? I have worked through (recently, after my disappointment with Physics Olympiad failure) most of Tipler and Mosca and am starting on University Physics next. I'm watching MIT OCW lectures when I have enough spare time for Calc III material and for Physics III (I don't know my wave material all that well).


    I'm hoping to get lots....so if you read this, please comment!!!!! Any and all help will be greatly appreciated~

    (Edit: I'm looking for Classics in each subject area, like Atkin's for Chem is what I heard I need for that; Griffiths for Electrodynamics etc...)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2010 #2


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    I know nothing about physics olympiad, or what GT means. However, in my experience, seriously working through a couple of good books on a subject is more than adequate. I usually just pick one as primary text and use one or two others (at most) for extra insight. And by working through I mean doing a bunch of pencil and paper work while reading the text as well as spending serious time with a significant number of problems in the book. This should take a lot of hours (months?) for even a single book. Simply reading a book gives you a vague idea at best. It is like watching a show about woodworking without actually getting out some wood and tools and building something.

    If you are interested in calculus based physics, then pick a calculus based physics book you like and work through it systematically.

    I love nerd books as much as anyone and have way too many, but getting more books doesn't make me any smarter!

    By the way, have you really worked through Goldstein? It is usually used for graduate level courses, and I think it is a mistake to jump into such a high level book while in high-school, unless you are genious-class. It would be so easy to get caught up in the math you don't know yet that you miss out on all the physics!

    Also, you are only in high-school once. If you are spending a lot more time reading physics than having fun, then you might be missing out!

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2010
  4. Apr 20, 2010 #3
    Sorry about that, GT being short for Georgia Tech... it's an okay school for engineering mostly.

    That's my problem....finding good texts. I'm saying I have all that junk...what's worth keeping and what is not, basically. I'm looking for the "classic" books in each of the major topics I'd cover in a Physics or Applied Math major, Physics being more important.

    I have plenty of calculus based physics books: Tipler and Mosca, Halliday and Resnick & Freedman and Young being the best of them. I have worked the majority of the problem's in each for Mechanics and Electricity/Magnetism...I plan on working the modern stuff this summer.

    I understand that...I just happen to have a lot.... I understand that I don't need them and don't want to waste time on a "bad" book so to speak...

    No, I have not seriously worked through it yet. I have read the first chapter and as you said it's relatively math intensive for highschool mathematics but I liked the manner in which it was written. It took me a little while to decipher the simple things he discussed about basic Lagrangian Mechanics so I figured I'd shelve it until I can do math more efficiently.

    Pshhhhhh fun? I'm not going to comment on that, let's just say that my personal life is non-existent at the moment and that learning is possibly the most enjoyable aspect of life right now.

    Thanks for your reply
  5. Apr 21, 2010 #4
    Feynman's Six Easy Pieces is a good book to read leisurely and provides a nice sample to his series of lectures. Lots of the books you mentioned are good, Stewart's Calculus is a standard text, the Art of Problem Solving is a fun, 'math competition' oriented book. Which books you read depends most of what your immediate goal is. Is it to learn a particular subject right away, or to enhance your education? Some of the books you mentioned are very technical, while some are leisurely, and others not really necessary (for example, I have not read the book on Infinitesimal approach to Calculus, but non-standard analysis is not that common and while cool to learn, I don't know how useful it is compared to other subjects).
  6. Apr 21, 2010 #5
    Right now my goal is to enhance my education. I was going to joint enroll at a nearby college next year but for various reasons am now unable to. Though I plan on being thoroughly educated in each of the things I learn once I hit the subject in college, I just want to expand what I know and maybe walk in more prepared than otherwise. I know life is going to get hard once I get into really difficult classes etc.

    Feynman's Six Easy Pieces? I'll look into it. I have all three volumes of his lectures and Q.E.D. but haven't delved into them properly yet.

    Also thank you very much! So Stewart's should be alright to keep as reference for most Calc I/II stuff then? Also, I very much love my AOPS books. I wish that the college math competitions were more like AIME/AMC questions haha I can't yet handle all the formal proof stuff required for USAMO styled questions and college competitions. I'm assuming Putnam is proof based?

    Also, I'm *slowly....very slowly* reading The Road to Reality. It's a very long term goal....I'm guessing it will take me years to understand most of it but I really like the first 5-6 chapters that I've read.

    Thank you very much!
  7. Apr 21, 2010 #6
    Six Easy Pieces is just a few of his lectures pulled out of the famous volumes. If you already have the series you don't need this small book.

    Stewart's is a standard reference for first year calculus. By the end of this course, you should be able to do all problems in the book.

    If you are interested in having learned some material before class even starts, then it is a matter of getting a book in that subject and going through all the problems.

    For more fun books, here are some that I think are interesting for math and physics: The Code Book and Fermat's Enigma by Simon Singh, The Drunkwards Walk by Leonard Mlodinow, The Quark & the Jaguar by Murrary Gellman, Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman, etc. All these books are fun to read and are not necessarily life changing nor do they even teach you anything on the actual material, but they can give you good insight on history, different things not covered in class, and give you an understanding of the big picture while you work out the details in a textbook throughout your education.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2010
  8. Apr 21, 2010 #7
    off of the top of my head

    really basic math:

    apostol calculus
    hoffman kunze linear algebra
    boyce deprima odes

    basic physics:

    (these should be read in order)

    kleppner kolonkow mechanics
    symon mechanics
    purcell electricity and magnetism
    shankar quantum mechanics
    griffiths elementary particles

    (these can be read whenever)

    schroeder thermal physics
    hecht optics
    taylor and wheeler spacetime physics
    inverno general relativity

    basic math:

    strichartz the way of analysis
    artin algebra
    munkres topology
    needham visual complex analysis
    strauss pdes

    when you're done with all the problems in each of those books you can start working in grad books
  9. Apr 21, 2010 #8
    Thanks, I haven't used the Stewart's yet. I'm working mostly from my Edwards and Penney which does go through Calc II material since that's what I'm doing now for class. But I'll probably keep the Stewart's then for review etc since it's good.

    I'll look into some of those books and hopefully this summer I'll have time to read some!

    Thanks again
  10. Apr 21, 2010 #9
    Thank you!!!!! haha this should keep me busy for a very long time.

    Hopefully I'll be able to work through these over a few years and be able to ask people about graduate level books afterwards....thankfully that will be quite a while from now.
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