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Well Rounded Book List - Multiple Disciplines

  1. Nov 23, 2009 #1
    I need some decent texts on general physics, chemistry, calculus, biology, and anthropology/sociology.

    I'm a sophomore in high school at the moment, but I'm tired of the lack of rigor in the high school curriculum, so I transferred into a homeschool program to give me more time for the remainder of this year (I'm graduating at the end of this year, and am planning on going to JC for a while, starting the fall '10 semester.) for self study.

    I'm working through Kline's book on Calculus at the moment, with Allendoerfer's Principles of Mathematics for reference, as there are some principle's I'm a little hazy on. What should I use next? Spivak maybe?

    I've got copies of Voet & Voet's Biochemistry (3rd edition), and Organic Chemistry by Clayden. Anything else I should be using as well? Maybe something leaning more towards pharmacokinetics/neuropharmacology?

    As far as physics goes, I just want a decent general overview. Not too mathematically rigorous, considering my current knowledge of calculus is embarrassingly light.

    Then there's biology. I've been subjected to Holt's.. Um.. Attempt? At a biology book, read through Campbell's Essential Biology and Biology, which weren't too bad, but still felt a little elementary, Essential Biology more so than the latter. Anything a bit more in-dept out there, focusing more on cellular biology?

    Social science has also fascinated me as well.. I'm sad to say my experience there is fairly limited, however. My knowledge pretty much consists of reading and studying the more "classic" works of Marx, Engels, Sch├╝tz, Weber, etc. I'm hammering my way through The Capital at the moment, but I want something more up-to-date economically because Marx didn't, or rather, couldn't, account for the state of world economy presently.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2009 #2
    You could try doing analysis from a text slightly more advanced than Spivak if you are comfortable enough with calculus. I would recommend Apostol's Mathematical Analysis or Introduction to Topology and Modern Analysis by George Simmons for this.

    Giancoli's physics text is pretty good. I used it for my AP Physics B course in high school and it prepared me fairly well for the physics C exams (ok so the AP exams are a joke, but the point remains that you can learn a lot of basic physics without necessarily working through a calculus based text).

    Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that you read through the entire 1000+ pages of Campbell's and found it somewhat elementary. If you've truly understood and retained everything in that text, then you should probably be on the biology olympiad team or something. Actually, I'm fairly sure that is the training text for the USA biology olympiad.

    Blah, social science. Well if you're interested in economics, by all means pick up an economics text (Mankiw is decent). Social science is really a vast subject, split into various disciplines and methodologies. I tend to stay away from certain parts, such as ethnography, for reasons I won't go into a rant about. I found articles by Tversky, who is a behavior economist, pretty interesting (studies of subtle logical fallacies). Searching wikipedia for this stuff is likely to be better than what I can recommend.
  4. Nov 24, 2009 #3
    I've heard about Apostol's book, I haven't had the chance to look through it, but it does seem like something I'd be able to do after finishing Kline. Anything kinda between the level of Kline and Spivak?

    Are you referring to Giancoli's Physics: Principles With Applications?

    haha, the 8th edition is the text my old high school uses for AP bio. It's not a bad book by any means, it's just after multiple years of biology, it didn't really contain anything revolutionary, just broadened the scope of what I already knew. It definitely was better than Campbell's other bio book, which was what my "elementary" comment was mostly directed at. I suppose I'm looking for something more specialized, in the realm of cellular or molecular bio, maybe with a preference towards botany (As Ethnobotany/pharmacology is really what I enjoy.).

    haha, yeah, social science is pretty broad term, and very dry in some places. Tversky's work seems pretty interesting, thanks for the suggestions.
  5. Nov 29, 2009 #4


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    If you don't have experience proving theorems, I would recommend the book Analysis with an introduction to proof, by Lay. The first couple of chapters are a crash course on the basics of logic, qunatifiers, methods of proof, basic set theory, etc. The rest of the book covers standard topics of elementary analysis. I worked through almost all of the 2nd edition of this book on my own and found it reasonable.

    I am sure there are other books out there that are good at teaching you how to construct and write proofs, but this is just the one that I am most familiar with. Once you are comfortable with proofs, I am sure many analysis books would be fine. Spivak is always highly recommended by folks more qualified than me, so it is likely a good bet.

    Of course, regardless of what book you use you must do a large number of the problems in the book. Working through the proofs of the theorems in the main text of the book is also important, as it 1) provides "examples" that you can attempt, with a full solution available! and 2) teaches you methods of proof and gives you insight as to why things work the way they do.

    For physics, I recommend Halliday and Resnick.

    Good luck.

  6. Nov 29, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Proofs are definitely my weakest point. I'll pick up the Lay book next time I make an order on Amazon or Alibris.

    Any opinion on the "3000 Solved Problems" series of books as far as exercises go? I've paged through the one on organic chemistry before, and it seems pretty decent, but I've got no idea as to the quality of the calculus and physics versions.

    Halliday and Resnick seems to be the gold standard for introductory physics from what I've seen suggested, I'll definitely check that out.
  7. Dec 10, 2009 #6
    The 3000 Solved problems in Physics book is extremely handy, It asks every type of question, and then some, that a first/second year physics student will encounter. I study a physics chapter, do a bit of research to be sure I've learned properly via the internet, then go through all the questons in each chapter.

    As for Halliday and Resnick, I sympathize with you for believeing that it is the gold standard. I searched around looking at forums and reviews to see how good it was and boy am I sorry, 50 euro later that is...

    The book is better than a high school text yes, but the amount of assumptions it makes leave too much to the imagination. I got so frustrated because the material wasn't covered in depth enough, not enough good illustrative sample problems and the end of chapter questions assume too much.

    I had to go and buy University Physics (with Modern Physics) by Young and Freedman after more book research. I went off articles that said it was the most rigorous intro out there with the best examples and I truly am happy now. I only appreciated some of the finer aspects of Newtons laws because of this book and the previously scary things such as the inclined plane are childsplay.

    The two books look similar but I sincerely recommend Universtiy Physics.

    Hammering your way through Das Kapital eh? Fair props, It's on my to do list, I'm trying to finish off my study of Engels "The Origin of the Family, Private Property & the State" first.

    As far as calculus goes, trial and error has convinced me on how easy calculus is, the only problem is having a shoddy understanding of all the other math, I recommend a first year college engineering book to make sure you have the essentials down. I've read that 90% of calculus is algebra, well trigonometry should be included there too. Everything is intuitive it's just being sure you know what is secretly being asked of you.

    I also recommend you take up linear algebra, it is nothing but a lifesaver, start without the rigorous version, it is extremely useful.

    (: Have Fun :)
  8. Dec 11, 2009 #7
    Sweet, the 3000 Solved Problems book seems perfect for what I need it for.

    University Physics? Alright, I'll check it out. It's also quite a bit cheaper than Resnick and Halliday, which'll definitely be nice on the wallet.

    Yeah, The Capital is beefy, that's for sure. A friend of mine's native language is German, and he says the the modern English translation is easier to read than the original German. He likened it to an English speaker reading Shakespeare. I'm working on the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, something a bit more lightweight and easier to digest.

    I've noticed more or less the same thing about calc. My problem is the fact I'm taking like four different math classes at school to grab as many credits as possible. All the math for school is pretty much review, but one's mindset gets kinda out of whack when it's changing between trig, geometry, and algebra II, inorganic chemistry, physics, Earth science, etc., then having to switch to all the self-study of organic and biochem, calc, and sociology. I found myself writing an email using mathematical operators and thinking about what to make for breakfast based on the ingredient's role in cellular respiration and the socioeconomic repercussions of not buying fair trade veggies, further propagating the Proletariat's oppression, while supporting the bourgeoisie.

    Any recommendation's for linear algebra material? I've watched a few of MIT's OCW lectures on it, but that just sorta gave me an idea of what it's about.
  9. Dec 11, 2009 #8
    The 3000 solved problems book wont really work off of high school physics knowledge, or at least it wouldn't off of an irish high school level knowledge lol.

    As for Linear Algebra, I wont say anything bad about the mit course. I started watching it but quit as it involves at least 30 hours of video that will explain something you can learn yourself by just reading the book "and working problems". Schaum's Linear Algebra 4th Edition is good but I found it a bit too rigourous at times. Some would say it's not rigourous enough but for a beginner I had to take a step back. I've got a great link for you, this is a free course which is plenty rigourous yet easy enough to learn the essentials.


    The methods in this are pretty much standard in intro quantum mechanics, it's well worth it, though maybe now you're too busy. I've checked in expensive books and the exact same material is covered, but it's free :). The college algebra link should surely help you also.


    Good luck with the manuscripts, I doubt it's for school lol, I'd recommend finding out about a book called "Spectre's of Marx" by Derrida, the actual book is a mouthful to read, but there's a sparknotes (or some equivalent, an intro book thingy) version in which it lays out how Marx's idea's were supposedly dead due to the "triumphs", it's a good idea to see where the idea's you're studying stand in contemporary "elite" culture lol.
  10. Dec 11, 2009 #9
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Those links seem pretty good, maybe I can finally retrain (or warp) my brain into enjoying matrices. =)

    haha, the Manuscripts are more for fun, but it's also my excuse for being able to turn a book report into a massive analysis of social and communist theory. It's just so much easier to write about something one enjoys, ya know?
  11. Dec 11, 2009 #10
    Haha, you could work that kind of thing into an essay on the wind lol

    It's funny because only today a religious paper came through my door blaming marxist ideas (and Gramsci in particular) for the decline in morals, gay rights and the shattering of the nuclear family. In Sociology 101 you'll read how the nuclear family is 100% attributed to the growth of capitalism, inadvertently shattering the extended family in it's wake (apart from small clusters). The article also blaims Gramsci for the rebellion of the 60's.

    My favourite part is the advertisement underneath;

    We need your support, we now accept credit card etc...

    Er :blushing:, good luck with the physics... :tongue2:
  12. Dec 11, 2009 #11
    haha, so we've got the Venetian's/Italian's originating the vendetta, capitalism destroying the extended family, an Italian Marxist destroying the nuclear family, and then Marxism creating what could be considered by some the most important change in American culture in the past two hundred years. Nice.

    Well, credit cards are kinda socialist.. It's just the debt that kinda screws everyone over.

  13. Dec 12, 2009 #12
    Haha, is there anything they can't do? :rolleyes:

    This is my favourite video ever on the subject, I think it really says a lot.


    Just a side note on calculus; You say you're knowledge of it is hazy, well I have the schaums calculus 4th edition and it really covers a lot, it's got around 53 chapters addressing quite a lot of material, It covers way more than the books I got out of the library like Thompson's calculus made easy and similar stuff did.

    If anyone has something to say against it please do! But if not I generally see it as a really useful source along with your other books, it's very practical asking questions but useful in that it shows solutions.

    As far as rigour in calculus goes, I believe that is the point of real analysis.
  14. Dec 12, 2009 #13
    haha, that video is amazing sir!
  15. Dec 13, 2009 #14
    Im particularly partial to "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Serway and Jewett, but I like "Uni Physics" too. I do think Halliday and Resnicks "Fundamentals of..." is good, but "Physics" is definitely the worst one to "self-study" from.

    For linear algebra, I like Anton's books for starters, and Axler's "Linear Algebra Done Right" for further self study. For a good, concise, quick and dirty and to the point math text that's directly applicable to physics, Boas' "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences." It is what it says it is. It teaches how to actually "do" the math required in your upper div physics classes without bogging you down too much with the theory or development of the actual math. This may not seem satisfying to some, but if you just want to or need to know how to do the math of a subject, this is a great reference. Plus, no one says you cant learn the theory behind the math separately. I do think it helps to "worry" about the physics and not need to "worry" about the math when you are learning physics. So this book does a thorough job of teaching you how to do the math, so you can then devote more of your time understanding the physics.
  16. Dec 13, 2009 #15
    Ok as far as social sciences go, how subjects like sociology and psychology are taught is quite different than the way physics or math would be taught. In my school, when I was a soc/psych major we had a great deal of freedom as to what classes we could take to fulfill our degree requirements. Outside of a two quarter sequence in general sociology theory and a quarter of sociological research methods, we pretty much had our choice of courses to take from the offerings. So I will list the classes that I took for my majors and the books I used for those courses.

    1. Intro Sociology - "Essentials of Sociology" - Henslin
    2. Development of Social Theory - "Civilization and its Discontents" - Freud, "Division of Labor" - Durkheim, "Marx-Engels Reader" - Tucker, "Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" - Weber
    3. Contemporary Social Theory - "Modern Sociological Theory" - Ritzer
    4. Sociology of Emotions - "The Emotions: Theories and a New Model" - Plutchik, "Research Agendas in the Sociology of Emotions" - Kemper
    5. Sociology Research Methods - "Investigating the Social World" - Schutt
    6. Simulating Society: Exploring Artificial Communities - "The Evolution of Cooperation" - Axelrod, ""Micromotives and Macrobehaivior" - Schelling
    7. Social Psychology: Sociological Approaches - "The Production of Reality" -O'Brian
    8. Sociology of Time - "Timescapes of Modernity" - Adam, "Time: An Essay" - Elias
    9. A Study of Norms - This class had a reader, but alot of the papers were by Garfinkle, Harold
    10. Social Change - "Exploring Social Change" - Harper, "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" - Friedman, "Globalization/Anti-Globalization" - Held
    11. Occupations and Professions - "Working" - Terkel
  17. Dec 13, 2009 #16
    My Psych Classes and Texts:

    1. Introduction to Health Psychology - "Health Psychology" - Taylor
    2. Human Sexuality - "Sarah: A sexual Biography", "With Pleasure", "A House Divided" all by Abramson
    3. Sex and the Law - "Sexual Rights in America" - Abramson
    4. Abnormal Psychology - "Abnormal Psychology" - Nolen-Hoeksema, "Handbook of Psychotherapy Supervision" - Lopez
    5. Human Motivation - "Human Motivation", "Judgments of Responsibilities" both by Weiner
    6. Psychobiology of Stress and Bodily Disease - "Why Zebras dont get Ulcers" - Sapolsky
    7. Thinking - "The Minding Organization" - Rubinstein
    8. Behavioral Pharmacology - "Molecular Basis of Neuropharmacology" - Nestler
    9. Sensation and Perception - "Sensation and Perception" - Goldstein
  18. Dec 13, 2009 #17
    Some other books I used:

    1. Philosophy - Principles of Critical Thinking - "Critical Thinking" - Wright
    2. Philosophy - Philosophy of Religion - "The Reason for God" - Keller
    3. Philosophy - Philosophy of the Mind - "Philosophy of the Mind" - Kim
  19. Dec 13, 2009 #18
    Thanks for the lists hitmeoff!

    What would you say the most critical, or at least most interesting/most important, aspects of the classes (and texts) were? I've plans to take some philosophy and psych. classes next semester, along with the prerequisite sociology classes, assuming I can fit them into my schedule.
  20. Dec 14, 2009 #19
    My best advice is to get a nice general "intro to" book on the social science that interests you. When it comes to subjects like Sociology and Psychology, you are gonna find that certain perspectives don't jive with your intuition as well as others do. For example in Psychology, some people like Freud, others like Jung. Not that there cant be some convergence on these subjects, but I think that you have to find your own path, you have to develop your own idea on things like psychology and sociology.

    For example, in terms of economics, I tend to agree more with Smith and Freidman and less with Marx and Keynes. In sociology, as far as classical theory goes, Weber and Durkheim to me nail it pretty well and Freud makes alot of sense as well. Marx, in my opinion has more interesting things to say as how society is organized than he does on how to actually run a society.

    Also, the topics can vary widely and at some point if you want to be functional or at least very literate, you kinda gotta pick a topic and go with it. You see my list of classes for socio, they were very haphazrd, but my choices of psych classes seem to tend more towards those classes that would have some strong relations to biology, why? because I personally err more on the side of nature and less on nurture (though the sociologist in me will always say that nurture does play SOME role, only saying that I think nature plays a larger role).

    Its kinda like a math major. Suppose you gotta take 9 course. Are you gonna take 1 algebra, 1 diff eq, 1 analysis, 1 geometry, 1 numerical methods, 1 stats...I guess you could (like I did with socio) or do you wanna try to narrow it down to a few topics that you can really digg yourself into?

    Like I said I would pick up a general survey type book to get a little taste of this and that and see what really grabs your attention.
  21. Dec 14, 2009 #20
    For what its worth though here are my general interests in the social sciences:

    1. Sociology - How society shapes the individual
    2. Psychology - Motivation, thought and perception (basically why we strive to do what we do and how we go about reasoning.)
    3. Philosophy - Metaphysics
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