1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Suggestions for books every Theoretical Physicist should have

  1. Nov 10, 2014 #1
    I am just starting my studies in earnest in Physics (woo, Freshman!) and plan on eventually seeking a PhD in theoretical physics. I was wondering if there were any "cannon" works, textbooks that almost every one knows or has studied from at some point, that I should start looking at purchasing/ start watching for the price to drop on.
    I would love any suggestions.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I can tell you what not to buy (costs and availability issues), but definitely look for at your nearest campus library: the 10-volume set by Landau and Lifschitz. As a more updated alternative: the series of books by Walter Greiner.
  4. Nov 12, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Since you are a Freshman, the primary books I would recommend are the Feynman lectures on physics. You can read them online for free at:
    They provide insight that you probably didn't get from your intro physics course. The big problem with them is that they don't have any problems - and you really learn by solving problems.

  5. Nov 13, 2014 #4
    I have actually read the Feynman Lectures.
  6. Nov 13, 2014 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    An exercise book for the Feynman Lectures was recently released. The problems there are quite good.

    I'd say Feynman lectures are the must-read books for general physics. After you become more advanced, take a look at the Landau & Lifshitz volumes. Other than that, it depends on the topic you are interested in.
  7. Nov 13, 2014 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ah, excellent. I was just going to make this post.

    I am considering buying the Feynman Lectures and I do not generally buy books.
  8. Feb 2, 2015 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The multivolume courses from Sommerfeld, Landau & Lifshitz; W. Thirrring "Mathematical Physics", Three volumes of Weinberg, Quantum theory of fields, Goldstein "Classical Mechanics", von Neumann: Mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, ...
  9. Feb 3, 2015 #8


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    It's a bit off the path that others have suggested. But a book I find very useful is:
    "Mathematical Handbook for Scientists and Engineers" by Korn and Korn. When you are trying to remember some mathematical thing, this book on your desk will be helpful. It gets a lot of use when I'm working. It's something an undergrad will almost certainly get value from.

    A Chemical Rubber Co handbook of chemistry and physics may, or may not, be value. It depends on what the details of your degree are.

    If you are a real keener, find out what books are getting used by later years in your degree, and get them. Though, be aware, you might be getting the Nth edition while you may need the N+1 edition when you get there.
  10. Feb 5, 2015 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    Another great book, which is not so well known (which I don't understand) is Schwinger, Classical Electrodynamics. It's full of gems. One should be aware of that Schwinger was not only one of the founding fathers of modern QED and renormalization theory but also an expert on classical electrodynamics, particularly about waveguides. I like particularly his treatment of the cylinder (Bessel) functions in this textbook, which is very elegant and unique.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted