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Recommended popular textbooks for physics and math?

  1. Apr 6, 2013 #1
    Can anyone give a list of the best/most comprehensive physics textbooks for each area of physics for someone just learning it? Would it be more useful/straightforward to just use the landau series?
    And is there a list of classic/popular math textbooks as well? For topics like analysis, differential geometry, topology, etc. Like the way there are more widely used textbooks in physics like griffiths, jackson, etc.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2013 #2


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    ​The following are on my reading list:

    •Mechanics (Marion & Thornton, Landau, Goldstein)
    •Dynamics (Kane)
    •Electricity and Magnetism (Griffiths, Landau, Jackson)
    •Optics (Hecht)
    •Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths, Landau, Shankar)
    •Quantum Electrodynamics (Griffiths, Landau, Weinberg)
    •Statistical Physics Part I (Landau)
    •Fluid Mechanics (Landau)
    •Theory of Elasticity (Landau)
    •Relativity (McMahon & Alsing, Wald, Misner & Thorne & Wheeler)
    •Electrodynamics of Continuous Media (Landau)
    •Statistical Physics, Part II (Landau)
    •Physical Kinetics (Landau)
    •Quantum Chromodynamics (Greiner, et. al.)
    •Nuclear Physics (Krane)
    •Electroweak Theory (Paschos)

    As you can see, I'm planning to supplement Landau. I think Landau might be a bit challenging for an intro, for some of the topics.
  4. Apr 6, 2013 #3
    thanks a lot. are there any recommendations for math books.
  5. Apr 6, 2013 #4


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    I agree with some of those. For someone just learning topics the standard undergrad books are reasonable: Griffiths for EM, Marion and Thornton or Taylor for mechanics, Schroeder for thermal physics. I'm not a quantum guy so I will refrain.

    I would say Landau is definitely too challenging for most folks who are "just learning" like the OP. I used to have a copy of statistical physics I from Landau (got it for $1 at a sale!) and I gave it away because it was way to hard for me to learn the material from the first time. It seems best for folks who have already learned grad stat mech at the level of Pathria (like the fellow I gave the book to). I ended up learning from Reif since that was the book the undergrad physics class that I sat in on was based upon - I did a bunch of the problems and it was reasonable. Today I would recommend Schroeder for someone learning thermal physics for the first time.

    Likewise for fluids, I find Landau to be a little on the hard side for most of us would learn easily for the first time - not nearly as bad as the statistical physics book, though! Tritton's "physical fluid dynamics" comes to mind for an undergrad book - but Landau is a reasonable supplement along side it. Both books were required for the continuum course I took; I primarily looked at Tritton, to be honest.

    As always, used copies (of old editions if possible) are what I would look for to save bundles of money. Most new books (Schroeder is one exception) are outrageously priced. The landau books are reasonably priced, so they have that going for them!


  6. Apr 6, 2013 #5


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    Sure. Here's my math reading list:

    •Ordinary Differential Equations (Zill, supp. with Tenenbaum & Pollard)
    •Geometry (Euclid (The Bones), Smart)
    •Mathematical Statistics (Wackerly & Mendenhall & Schaeffer)
    •Set Theory (Suppes)
    •Mathematical Logic (Enderton)
    •Introductory Real Analysis (Kirkwood, Rudin)
    •Differential Geometry (Kreyzsig)
    •Complex Analysis (Gamelin)
    •Partial Differential Equations (Farlow)
    •Ordinary Differential Equations (Coddington & Levinson)
    •Topology (Crossley)
    •Linear Algebra (Nicholson)
    •Abstract Algebra (Herstein)
    •Algebraic Topology (Hatcher)
    •Complex Analysis (Berenstein & Gay)
    •Real Analysis (Royden, Rudin)
    •Functional Analysis (Kreyzsig, Rudin, Lax)
    •Semigroup Theory (Engel & Nagel)
    •Partial Differential Equations (Renardy & Rogers, Debnath)
    •Group Theory and its Applications to Physical Problems (Hamermesh)
    •Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control (Troutman)
    •Tensor Calculus (Kay, Synge and Schild, Munkres)
    •Integral Equations (Porter & Stirling)
    •Abstract Algebra (Dummit & Foote)
    •Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (Mackay, Weyl, Cornwell)
    •Mathematical Physics (Newton, Reed & Simon)
    •Number Theory (Burton)
    •Cryptography (Stinson)
  7. Apr 6, 2013 #6
    are those mostly the "gold standard" textbooks used?
    And also, is there any particular order I should study physics and math textbooks so I have the necessary prerequisites for the next book I read?

    thanks a lot!
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
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