Seeking a good Undergraduate physics textbook

In summary, the discussion is about textbook recommendations for undergraduate physics courses. The suggested books include Physics Parts I and II by Halliday and Resnick (3rd edition), An Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolencow, and University Physics by Younge and Freedman. It is mentioned that Halliday and Resnick is considered to be the best, but some find it dry and convoluted. Another suggestion is Alonso and Finn: Fundamental Physics, which lacks problems but can be supplemented with Halliday. There is also mention of students taking advanced placement courses in high school, but it is noted that having a strong foundation in algebra is important before jumping into advanced physics with calculus.
  • #1
Touran Khan
16
2
First off, sorry for posting yet another one of these threads. I've scavenged through this forum for undergrad textbook recommendations and have been somewhat overwhelmed. I'm beginning first year soon and would like a textbook that I can rely on as either my main textbook, or at least a reliable supplementary one to the book my university will provide.

Based off of some of the suggestions here, currently I've been leaning towards Physics Parts I and II by Halliday and Resnick (3rd edition):
https://www.amazon.com/dp/047134530X/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Secondly, I've heard of 'An Introduction to Mechanics' by Kleppner and Kolencow:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0521198119/?tag=pfamazon01-20

and lastly: University Physics by Younge and Freedman.

From what I've read the consensus more or less seems to be geared towards Halliday and Resnick but have also heard the books are very dry, convoluted and not too clear. If you guys can comment on this criticism and further on the textbooks listed, or recommend other books then that would be great!

Thanks, and apologies yet again for posting another one of these threads.
 
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  • #2
Halliday and Resnick has been around for about 50 years, it is the best text out there for freshman physics, dry or not, it does the job.
 
  • #3
I prefer Alonso and Finn: Fundamental Physics. It is a very great book that covers topics usually taught in upper division courses. Make sure you know your calculus, almost every idea is derived and it's historical importance is listed. Gave me a an admiration for physics. It lacks problems, so supplementing it with Halliday is a great choice.
 
  • #4
MidgetDwarf said:
I prefer Alonso and Finn: Fundamental Physics. It is a very great book that covers topics usually taught in upper division courses. Make sure you know your calculus, almost every idea is derived and it's historical importance is listed. Gave me a an admiration for physics. It lacks problems, so supplementing it with Halliday is a great choice.
Great book but not readily available.

Dr Transport said:
Halliday and Resnick has been around for about 50 years, it is the best text out there for freshman physics, dry or not, it does the job.

This is a good suggestion. At the same level, I also (really) like VERMA - concepts of Physics volume 1 and volume 2 .

I am confused about one thing though, we always read these books above in high school. For undergraduate, we had specific books on specific subjects - e.g. a mechanics book, an electricity and magnetism book, a quantum mechanics book etc. - we never read an all inclusive physics book for undergraduate studies.
 
  • #5
In the US, the standard order is a 2-3 semester course out of something like Halliday & Resnik, then a semester as an intro to modern physics the you get into the single subjects, usually around second half of second year or third year.
 
  • #6
Dr Transport said:
In the US, the standard order is a 2-3 semester course out of something like Halliday & Resnik, then a semester as an intro to modern physics the you get into the single subjects, usually around second half of second year or third year.

Thanks. Got it. So, what do they teach in high school (11th and 12th grades) then?

p.s. I apologize to OP. I didn't mean to hijack the thread; I am just curious.
 
  • #7
depends, some kids take advanced placement and get credit so they can skip one or maybe two of the semesters, others take a general physics course. way back when, when i was in high school, the advanced placement course wasn't offered, kids today are forced into all these college courses before they even have a high school education, you need the basics before going into the advanced stuff. if you can't do physics with algebra, you are going to have a very hard time learning it with calculus. (I know people are going to yell, but, it is the truth, jumping straight into advanced isn't a good thing.)
 
  • #8
I strongly disagree with the last two sentences. Physics without calculus is impossible and thus ununderstandable, at least, I couldn't understand it, when I had to give one or two lectures for a colleague once. At the end they use calculus all over the place, but it's forbidden to call it calculus. E.g., they took differences ##\Delta x/\Delta t## (making ##\Delta t## very small) to get the velocity, but it was not allowed to call it a derivative, nor was it allowed to teach the students the basic laws how derivatives are taken. That simply doesn't make sense. Physics gets harder to study without calculus. A purely algebra based approach is fake. All the fundamental laws are differential equations, and that is for a physical reason named locality!
 

Related to Seeking a good Undergraduate physics textbook

1. What are the key features to look for in a good undergraduate physics textbook?

A good undergraduate physics textbook should have clear explanations of concepts, plenty of examples and practice problems, and illustrations or diagrams to aid understanding. It should also cover a wide range of topics and include real-world applications of physics.

2. Is it important for the textbook to have online resources or supplemental materials?

Having online resources or supplemental materials can be helpful, but it is not essential for a good undergraduate physics textbook. It ultimately depends on the individual student's learning style and preferences.

3. Should I choose a textbook based on the author or publisher?

While it may be tempting to choose a textbook based on the reputation of the author or publisher, it is more important to focus on the content and organization of the book. Make sure the textbook aligns with the curriculum and covers the necessary topics in a way that is understandable for you.

4. How do I determine the level of difficulty of a textbook?

The level of difficulty of a textbook can be determined by looking at the prerequisites, the topics covered, and the complexity of the problems and examples. You can also read reviews from other students or ask for recommendations from professors or peers.

5. Are there any specific textbooks that are highly recommended for undergraduate physics?

There are many highly recommended textbooks for undergraduate physics, such as "University Physics" by Young and Freedman, "Fundamentals of Physics" by Halliday and Resnick, and "Introduction to Electrodynamics" by Griffiths. However, it is important to choose a textbook that suits your learning style and is compatible with your course curriculum.

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