Top textbook sticky thread?

  1. I had an idea that maybe a thread should be made in the "Science Book Reviews" subforum talking about the most popular textbooks for given subjects. I realize that no single textbook is standard but it could give a few of the most popular books and maybe a description of the merits of each?

    I thought this might be a good idea because I've seen a ton of threads along the lines of "Is this book any good?" or "Is book X better than book Y?". Also, a lot of people seem to have problems with textbook that there class is using and are looking for another, this could be a good reference. I realize this is probably pretty time consuming and would volunteer myself but I have yet to actually take any undergrad courses (starting college this fall!) so am not familiar with the many textbooks.

    Sorry if this is the wrong section, it seemed the most appropriate.
  2. jcsd
  3. Kurdt

    Kurdt 4,941
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    The following thread is along similar lines to yours.

    I don't know how this could be implemented properly because to me a choice of textbook is very personal, so I'd hate to think that one was mislead into getting a textbook over another just because it was on a list. On the other hand, a list of text books might serve as a resource to those who receive only one recommendation on a university reading list.

    I suppose we'll see what others more wise than me recommend.
  4. Defennder

    Defennder 2,616
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    I second the idea. More often than not, I find that textbook recommendations are buried in the middle of say a 5-page thread, which effectively means unless you've been following the thread, you're likely to miss it.

    It's true that a different people may have or use different texts because of personal preference/college requirements, but no doubt out of the few hundred covering a particular, there are always around 5 or so that stand out from the rest.
  5. That's funny Kurdt, I hadn't seen that thread, you're right it is a pretty similiar idea. Also I don't think that anyone would choose the textbook just because it was on the list, however I think at the very least this serves as a starting point for some of the best (or at least most widely used) textbooks out there - this is also the reason why I thought there should be a discussion of the merits of each book.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2008
  6. Gokul43201

    Gokul43201 11,141
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  7. Gokul43201, thanks for the links however, I feel they are lacking. These don't have any sort of discussion of why each book is good and they are highly disorganized, what I'm proposing is something along these lines:

    Introductory Physics:
    X: X is good because ...
    Y: Y is good because ...

    Quantum Mechanics:
    X: X is good because ...
    Y: Y is good because ...

    I'd like to see a comprehensive list all in one post. I don't think most people want to search through pages and pages like that. Also if nobody does want to make a thread such as I'm suggesting then I would at least suggest stickying those threads that are already made even though they are lacking as this would at least cut down on some of the "what is the best book for ?" threads.
  8. Gokul43201

    Gokul43201 11,141
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    I agree. This is something that could be done with a little bit of co-ordination and effort.
  9. Just a suggestion:
    This may be a little extreme, but maybe the folks in charge at PF could break down the book review section into sections and sub-sections.
    For example:
    Maths => Algebra => Linear Algebra
    This would simplify things greatly, but it is a lot of work, and might be over-kill.
  10. Kurdt

    Kurdt 4,941
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    I suppose if enough people chip in it could become a good resource to aid people in their choice. I'd be willing to write about the books I have although I love them all so it'll be a bit biased. I'm fairly busy lately so it might not be any time soon. Perhaps we could solicit contributions from other HH's and SA's.
  11. So is there any particular reason why this hasn't happened? I know I posted this thread a while ago but I still would like to see this, there are threads (which have been linked to here) but they are lacking in that they are unorganized and lack descriptions of textbooks.

    I'm assuming the reason that this hasn't happened is simply that nobody has taken the initiative. I have begun to look through these lists and am making a more consolidated post. But I cannot do descriptions as I have not even started my undergraduate schooling yet so have no experience with any of these books.

    I don't really want to do this though unless it's going to get stickied in the Science Book Review section. Because people consistently forget about the search function and there are numerous re-posts of the same questions. I also think everything posted should have a description.

    If anyone would like to make a contribution to the list and add descriptions I would be grateful. I'm not sure where to post the list so far, I don't want to put it in the Science Book Review section because then I won't be able to edit the first post, which I would want all the information in so it is readily available. Maybe I can be given authority to edit the first post of one thread (not sure how feasible that is) or a moderator can just update the post (sounds like a pain)?
    Last edited: May 13, 2008
  12. Gokul43201

    Gokul43201 11,141
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    Post your list here. I think this is an idea worth implementing.

    The staff can start with your list and add descriptions/expand the list...if enough collective motivation exists. I'd be happy to lobby this idea.
  13. Hootenanny

    Hootenanny 9,681
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    I'd also be more than happy to chip in. It's a nice idea Helical, I agree that the Book Reviews forum has not been given much attention recently. Hopefully with a bit of effort it can become a decent resource.
  14. Here is my list so far, there are a few that I'm not sure if they are actually undergrad text's. Shankar and Sakurai in particular seem to be used as graduate textbooks but they also seem to be undergraduate? I'm not sure.

    I'm sure this list isn't as good or complete as it could be, I tried to stick with the more commonly recommended books. Although I think I may have gotten a few obscure titles for "Classical Mechanics."

    For relativity it was hard for me to determine what "level" the books are at. I wasn't sure if, for instance, MTW (or similiar books) is a graduate school text or undergrad. Anyways, this should be a decent starting point for undergraduate textbooks.


    Introductory [Freshman] Physics:
    Halliday, Resnick, Walker
    Halliday, Resnick, Krane
    Feynman Lectures on Physics - Feynman, Leighton, Sands

    Modern Physics:

    Mathematical Methods:
    Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences - Boas
    Mathematical Methods for Physicists - Arfken/Weber

    Thermo/Statistical Mechanics:
    Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics - Reif
    Thermal Physics - Kittel
    An Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics - Hill

    Classical Mechanics:
    An Introduction to Mechanics - Kleppner/Kolenkow
    Classical Dynamics of Paricles and Systems - Marion/Thornton
    Mechanics - Symon
    Analytical Mechanics - Cassiday & Fowles
    Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics - Calkin

    Introduction to Electrodynamics - Griffiths
    Electricity and Magnetism - Purcell

    Quantum Mechanics:
    Principles of Quantum Mechanics - Shankar
    Modern Quantum Mechanics - Sakurai
    Introduction to Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths


  15. robphy

    robphy 4,343
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    You might find some suggestions from

    What would be nice to see (but I doubt it can be done effectively here)
    is to see how many folks actually use these various books. For example,
    of the three QM books listed thus far, in what proportion are these books used
    as the official textbook for the course?

    In addition, there are some nice new texts out there that aren't well known... compared to the old so-called "classics".

    Some commentary on strengths and weaknesses would be useful as well.
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