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Please Recommend Physics Textbooks

  1. Dec 7, 2011 #1
    Hi, I'm self-teaching myself/relearning physics, and I would like to ask the collective wisdom on this board for physics textbook recommendations.

    I realize that there's already a plethora of physics textbook recommendations on this forum, and I've already gone through many of those posts. However, my situation is somewhat different, which is why I'm asking again, for recommendations that are tailored to my situation/background.

    I took AP Physics C in high school and 1 year of physics in college, so I have had some background in physics, but that was all years ago, and I haven't touched physics since. Additionally, since I'm self-teaching myself, I don't have access to a professor or someone else who can explain things to me if/when I get stuck on a difficult topic.

    Thus, the ideal physics textbook would be comprehensive and exceedingly thorough, basically taking you by the hand and walking you through each concept step by step, i.e., A to B to C. Some physics textbooks jump from A to C and seem to expect that a professor will fill in the gaps or that you have some prior knowledge that will enable you to make the leap on your own.

    Good visuals are fantastic, since I'm a very visual learner. Also, I learn best by doing problems (lots and lots of them), so a textbook that has an accompanying solutions manual would be best. At the very least, it must include an answer key to at least some of the questions in the book (e.g., the odd problems), otherwise I could be doing hundreds and hundreds of problems yet be doing them all incorrectly just because I can't check my work.

    Calculus-based physics textbooks are preferable, since I want to (re-)learn physics as rigorously as possible (for a beginner, that is). Of course, I've also forgotten a lot of calculus as well, so again, step-by-step explanations are critical.

    I anticipate that I will be able to re-pick up Mechanics relatively easily. However, I remain thoroughly uncomfortable with Electricity & Magnetism, so I really, really, really need a physics textbook that is especially good at elucidating the mysteries of E&M. Same goes for all of the physics topics that fall outside of Mechanics and E&M, since I either never even learned those topics, or covered them only briefly in my physics courses.

    Looking forward to your recommendations! Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2011 #2
    I recommend Physics by Halliday, Resnick, and Krane. There are three books in the set: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 2 Extended. The extended version of Volume 2 contains all of the material in the standard version plus chapters on modern physics. They are calculus-based and include answers to all of the odd problems. You can find used copies of the fourth edition online for around $1.
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