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Physics Books for beginners

  1. Oct 21, 2016 #1
    Hi I'm planning to return university, to study astrophysics/physics at university level. I'm taking up A levels exams in physics, maths, chemistry as a private student. I wanted to start everything from the scratch.. can someone please suggest me some basic books for these subjects?? I have heard that physics for dummies book is good for beginners. But I wanted to get a suggestion before I buy.. I'll be having some help in studying but still most of the time it would be self study. P.s I'd be a nontraditional/mature student.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2016 #2


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    There are a bunch of similar threads in the Similar Discussions section at the bottom of this page. Have you looked at those?
  4. Oct 21, 2016 #3
    Sorry I'm new to this forum.
  5. Oct 21, 2016 #4


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    No problem. A lot of topics get duplicated. Hopefully one of the threads has what you need.
  6. Oct 21, 2016 #5
    Thank you
  7. Oct 21, 2016 #6
    Conceptual Physics by Paul G. Hewitt is an excellent book.
  8. Oct 21, 2016 #7
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  9. Oct 22, 2016 #8


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    Incase your search is proving confusing:

    H&R 4th/5th edition volumes are where many students begin to learn physics, it's the best place to start assuming you have a calculus background. Anything below that, algebra based physics/conceptual books for layman are not worth your time.
  10. Oct 23, 2016 #9
    Thank you
  11. Oct 23, 2016 #10
    Can someone reply? Is physics for dummies book worth reading
  12. Oct 23, 2016 #11
    I wouldn't waste your time with the For Dummies series. There are much better beginning options out there that will teach you physics properly.
  13. Oct 23, 2016 #12
    If you are starting from scratch, "conceptual" physics isn't a bad way to start. In the physics sequence I took, it was assumed that the student had the math background to jump right in, and even though the class was rigorous mathematically, it was less about solving problems than it was about grasping the concepts. So, i wouldn't dismiss starting out with a conceptual physics book as a waste of time. Felix Bloch, Robert Hofstader, Art Schawlow, Bill Shockley and Leonard Schiff used Feynman's approach to understanding physics. So, when starting from scratch, I'd still recommend Hewitt's book.
  14. Oct 25, 2016 #13
  15. Nov 5, 2016 #14
    physics for dummies is not rigourous enough for a level, its really basic. Physics 2 for dummies has calculus based physics. in it

    Since your level is a level (i did them too) you dont have calculus based physics,
    I can recommend this book to you:
    Schaums college physics.

    Physics for engineers and scientists is a really good book too. Halliday and resnick is a classic but for physics majors, since your deadset on a physics degree anyway, you should buy H and R fundamentals of physics even though you wont learn the advanced parts of the books and some of the math would be very new to you,eg, motion is also in three dimensions where in a level physics its in 2.

    Schaums college physics:
    Its got a decent amount of condensed information and good exercises for non calculus level physics, (introductory college physics). I use it but often the definitions are straight and to the point, which may seem insulting to someone wanting more. So, there is not one single book I can recommend.

    Use the recommended a level book too (even though I thought its disgusting, but you ened to follow it to the T to get good marks).More important than a good book are the learner guides for your subjects (these are your syllabus):

    http://www.cie.org.uk/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-international-as-and-a-level-physics-9702/ [Broken]

    There is no single book, but there is a guide ^^^^^^ this is the list of topics, skills, knowledge you msut have in order to do well at physics...so follow this. There are learner guides for all subjects.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  16. Dec 2, 2016 #15
    hello, I have been searching books for a while, and found few books to start with. I had studied physics before, but I just did to pass the exams. So from the books which I have narrowed down, is it possible to grasp all the basic concepts without excellent maths knowledge ? I have average maths knowledge, I will be studying maths along with physics... please suggest
  17. Dec 2, 2016 #16


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    I'm not terribly familiar with British-flavoured systems of education. Do A levels include calculus?
  18. Dec 2, 2016 #17
    Yes of course .
  19. Dec 2, 2016 #18
    The following are excellent:

    1. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0992001005 - extended preview here
    2. https://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Physics-Mechanics-Relativity-Thermodynamics/dp/0300192207 & https://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Physics-II-Electromagnetism-Mechanics/dp/0300212364

    But my favorites are Verma 1 & Verma 2

    The 3rd edition of Haliday & Resnick is also pretty good but I find them too dry to read. Definitely stay away from those dummies books.

    By the way, What books have you narrowed down to? What is the level of your math knowledge? What physics and maths have you done so far? Answering these questions may help you get better replies here.

    Have you tried reading any of your shortlisted books? Are you getting stuck? If, so you can always ask specific questions here. But of you do not know calculus, I would start with a review of algebra and trigonometry with something like https://www.amazon.com/Precalculus-Prelude-Calculus-Sheldon-Axler/dp/047064804X or https://www.amazon.com/Precalculus-Mathematics-Nutshell-Geometry-Trigonometry/dp/1592441300 and then have a calculus refresher from https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471827223.

    It is imperative that you understand basic math to learn physics - there is absolutely no way around it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  20. Dec 2, 2016 #19

    Below are the lists I have on few days, I will still expand my search on the books on all the below topics. These are just a rough draft.


    shankar's fundamentals of physics,

    concepts of physics 1 and 2 hc verma

    University Physics with modern physics

    Fundamentals of physics by halliday and resnick.

    Newtonion Mechanics

    Understanding Physics

    Serwey Physics for Scientist and Engineers

    So You Want To Be A Physicist



    Algebra by Gelfand, shen

    Geometry by Kiselev 1 and 2

    Geometry by lang, murrow

    Basic mathematics by Lang

    Precalculus: Mathematics for calculus (Stewart)

    What is mathematics - richard courant.

    Read Simmons and Lang's basic math concurrently, also start reading Moise
    Stage 4: Read Lang's calculus and Keisler calculus concurrently

    "A Mathematician's Apology" by G.H. Hardy

    Mathematical Handbook Elementary Mathematics by M. Vygodsky

    Higher Mathematics for Beginners and its application to physics by Ya. B. Zeldovich


    Intro to chemistry. Book: Chemical Principles (Atkins) - Chemical Principles - The quest for insight

    Organic chemistry as a second language

    Chemistry the central science

    Introductory chemistry a foundation steven s zumadahl

    Introductory Chemistry Essentials - Tro

    Chemistry zumadahl susal zumadahl

    The periodic kingdom

    Matter and Interactions by Sherwood/Chabay.

    Linus Pauling: General Chemistry.

    The Joy of Chemistry

    Chemistry: A molecular approach - Nivaldo Tro



    Biology 9th Edition

    by https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byl...s&field-author=Peter+Raven&sort=relevancerank (Author), https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byl...ield-author=George+Johnson&sort=relevancerank (Author), https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byl...field-author=Kenneth+Mason&sort=relevancerank (Author), https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byl...ield-author=Jonathan+Losos&sort=relevancerank (Author), https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byl...&field-author=Susan+Singer&sort=relevancerank (Author)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  21. Dec 2, 2016 #20
    I have an average level of math knowledge, I can study and pass the exams. I studied math in my bachelor's degree, But I didnt know what they were supposed to mean and why we were doing it. I studied physics, chemistry and math at 12th grade, which I studied just to clear the exams..
    I can understand math, but still I would like to have firm grounding on the basics. This is applicable to all other subjects which I have mentioned
  22. Dec 2, 2016 #21
    Well in that case, just follow my original suggestions in this order (the links are in my OP quoted above)
    1. Axler & Simmons
    2. Kleppner
    3. Savov
    4. Shankar 1 & 2 Or Verma 1 &2
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  23. Dec 2, 2016 #22
    I think Physics for the Enquiring Mind by Eric Rogers is superb. It is from 1960 but still extremely useful. It is said to be the inspiration for Conceptual Physics. But at least by today's educational standards it is quite rigorous in my opinion. If I had to select one of those books to use in a class it would be PEM rather than CP.

    It is very long but without fluff. It is also well written and entertaining. There is an amazing amount of information about the history of physics which I have not seen in other textbooks. The illustrations including lots of diagrams are excellent. I jumped at it when I found a used copy and I'm glad I did. I don't mean to rave but this book is a true gem.

    Also I like some of the Soviet era Russian physics books. Many of these were published by Mir Press in English translation. Physics for Entertainment by Perelman is a famous one. It's not a textbook and as the title says it is entertaining. He wrote another one called Astronomy for Entertainment. These are not lightweight books. You will learn a lot. They are a good supplement to standard textbooks.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  24. Dec 2, 2016 #23
    I had to study from H&R for one of my introductory physics classes. I always loved physics but I did not like H&R. I learned the essentials by studying some textbooks from Cambridge University Press that were aimed at more or less the same level. They were better written with a higher signal to noise ratio.
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