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Must read books

  1. Jan 8, 2008 #1
    Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone could recommend some must read books that any well-educated person should read. I like to read(a lot) but sometimes I do not always read the right books. I prefer books on math/science in general considering that I am a physics major. But any books that you have found to boost your knowledge and make you an all around more educated person would also be helpful. Feel free to list and discuss some of the top books that you have read!!I am looking forward to reading you posts!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2008 #2
    i haven't read these but Godel escher bach looks good and road to reality by penrose looks good.
  4. Jan 8, 2008 #3
    I just finished reading "Poincare Conjecture" by Donal O'Shea so I can recommend it. I picked it up to learn more about Poincare Conjecture in detail, but it turned out this book is more of a historical exposition of events leading to its discovery. Surprisingly, that was incredibly fascinating read.
  5. Jan 8, 2008 #4
    I've listed some over in the science review section, so not gonna list those books again, but an one really interesting book I read lately was "The Hole in the Universe" by K.C. Cole. Its essentially a book about nothing... & how this nothing effects the universe.

    The book "The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy" by Fulvio Melia was also a pretty interesting read. After reading so many books about string theory & parallel worlds, it was good to come back to "reality" & read about theories pertaining to actual observed phenomena.
  6. Jan 8, 2008 #5


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    The ten volumes of Landau and Lif****z "Course of Theoretical Physics". Then you will be an honorary Soviet physicist.
  7. Jan 8, 2008 #6
    You will also be a damn good physicist.
  8. Jan 14, 2008 #7
    Unknown Quantity by Derbyshire is a pretty good book about the historical development of algebra.
  9. Jan 14, 2008 #8
    a must-read and must-concern SUBJECT is "" self-development "" .
    One i am reading now is " Power up your mind : learn faster, work smarter " by Bill Lucas .

    a quotation from the book :

    " Most of us don’t understand the central role our minds have
    in helping us to perform more effectively: we are simply not taught
    how to learn or how to apply our learning. While we have discovered
    more about the brain and how it works in the last decade than
    we have ever known before, we apply very little of this in our daily
    working or personal lives.

    It is possible for everyone to learn faster, work smarter, and
    be more fulfilled.

    Power Up Your Mind translates what we know about how the
    brain works into useful insights for the workplace. It has been written
    from the conviction that intelligence is multifaceted and not
    fixed at birth. It draws ideas from the broadest possible range of
    subject areas, from neuroscience to psychology, motivation theory
    to accelerated learning, memory to diet. "
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008
  10. Jan 14, 2008 #9


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    Fabric of the cosmos and elegant universe by Brian Greene
    Anything by Carl Sagan
    Anything by Richard Dawkins
  11. Jan 14, 2008 #10


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    It is a difference reading physics books and study them.
  12. Jan 14, 2008 #11
    Theory of Complex Functions by Reinhold Remmert is a beauty to read as it mix theory, problem solving, and historical development in one book.
  13. Jan 30, 2008 #12
    What exactly do you mean? Do you suggest studying physics books that are not textbooks?
  14. Jan 31, 2008 #13

    Andy Resnick

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    I second "Goedel, Esher, Bach" and "Cosmos". Also, at a more elementary level, "One, Two, Three, Infinity" By Gamow.

    Another favorite of mine is "An Idiot's Fugitive Essays on Science" by Clifford Truesdell.

    Edit: sorry, I forgot "Flying Circus of Physics", by Jearl Walker.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
  15. Jan 31, 2008 #14


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    No i mean going through the exersices, proove formulas, etc.

    It is difference reading a QM book for example Sarkurai, only using your eyes. And trying to solve the exersices with a paper and pencil.
  16. Jan 31, 2008 #15
    Very true! Unfortunately, lots of books don't have exersices at all :( Prooving the formulas in the theory is also great, but the real digging into the subject comes along with the unsolved problems!
  17. Jan 31, 2008 #16


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    if they dont contain exercises, then yes you can follow the forumulas and trying to get all the steps etc. Or find another textbook or excerixes somewhere else.

    Physics is not a science that you gain knowledge by reading, nor math either. One has to practice and encounter difficulties and try to overcome them :)
  18. Mar 10, 2008 #17
    'Warped Passages' by Lisa Randall

    I found this book quite easy to read, especially for not having too much of a particle physics background.

    I like how she tries to explain the non-intuitive concepts in QM processes such as the
    Higgs Mechanism and supersymmetry breaking. She ties it well with the whole description
    behind brane theory and the search for hidden dimensions.

    For anyone interested in this kind of stuff, this is a great read.
  19. Apr 13, 2008 #18
    hopefully not - just as reading Arnold Sommerfelds "Lectures on Theoretical Physics" would not turn him into a Nazi :eek:

    back to topic, I second the proposal of ice109, "Road to Reality" by Roger Penrose
  20. Apr 13, 2008 #19
    A few that you might consider are:
    The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill
    Street Without Joy, Bernard Fall
    Design of Welded Structures, Omer Blodgett
    Development of Concepts of Physics, Arnold Arons
    The Lady in the Lake, Walter Scott
    Matter and Motion, James Clerk Maxwell
    Henry V, William Shakespeare
    Sonnets from the Portugese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  21. Apr 13, 2008 #20
    A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
    it sold me on physics as a sophomore in high school
  22. Apr 14, 2008 #21
    Brian Greene; the Elegant Universe.
  23. Apr 14, 2008 #22


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    Misner, Thorne, Wheeler.
  24. Apr 14, 2008 #23
    Actually another one of the best books that I have read is Crime and Punishment. The story is more or less conveyed in dialogue. Which makes it hard to follow at times. However the book is a great examination of a criminals justifications and the emotional impact ensued from existential beliefs. Which would make it a great philosophy/literiture book. Anyways more reviews are at amazon.com
  25. Apr 14, 2008 #24
    "Flatland" by Edwin A. Abbot. Good for both the mathematician and the liberal arts major :).
  26. Apr 15, 2008 #25
    Some more random thoughts, tending towards authors:
    Euclid's Elements
    John Locke
    Thomas Aquinas
    James Baldwin
    Roger Penrose
    Henry Petroski
    Sun Tzu
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