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What is a good (academic) physics starter book?

  1. Feb 26, 2013 #1
    I will be taking Physics this coming fall and am looking for a good book to accompany it as a study/reference guide. From what I have heard, the pdf textbook that the teacher offers is not very good, as it lacks a variety of practice problems and thorough explanations. Since I am majoring in physics, I want to learn as much as possible, so I am hoping to find a textbook that is more thorough that someone with experience could suggest. I have seen a few options in bookstores, but I am not sure which ones are preferable or will better prepare me for what I need to learn at this point. If I could find one that will carry on to Physics II topics as well, that would be great.
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  3. Feb 27, 2013 #2
    I like Halliday, Resnick & Walker. Get an extended edition if you can. I also have Serway lying around somewhere. Don't worry too much about intro textbooks though. They're all pretty much the same.

    If you want to understand concepts quickly and effectively I recommend checking out Feynman's Lectures on Physics. It's not a proper textbook, but it is very easy to learn from without being too basic.
  4. Feb 27, 2013 #3
    Thank you. I have heard of both of these already and was planning on getting the Feynman's Lectures on Physics. I was also considering the Halliday book as well, so I will have to take another look at it.
  5. Feb 27, 2013 #4


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    "An Introduction to Mechanics" - Kleppner and Kolenkow, "Introduction to Classical Mechanics" - Morin - if you want texts with challenging practice problems then these two will not disappoint. The problems in Halliday and Resnick will bore you to death, wait till you find that little bit of life left in you, then bore you right back to death again.
  6. Feb 27, 2013 #5
    Lol, thanks for the forewarning. I will take a look at those books you mentioned. I've heard of the Kleppner one already, but not the Morin one.
  7. Feb 27, 2013 #6
    HR&W has more examples and practice problem than you'd want to do IMO (hundreds). The extended version has extra chapters on stuff I like to refer to as "Physics III." I don't know about that 9th edition, but from what I've seen in the old editions it's stuff you need to know before taking Quantum Mechanics.

    As for the ratings you see, the sample size isn't that big. Check the reviews on Amazon. It's the same book with extra stuff.

    IMO use the HR&W to get the practice... and use Feynman if you don't want to be bored.
  8. Feb 27, 2013 #7


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    The Morin one has some really tough problems but it also has very detailed solutions for all of the problems and then gives you a score of equally challenging exercises to work through that do not have solutions. You will learn a lot from the Morin text as well as Kleppner; they both have an abundance of examples. IMO, the 3 star problems in Halliday are pretty much like 1 star or 2 star problems in Morin, and Morin goes up to 4 star problems :wink:
  9. Feb 27, 2013 #8
    I would go to your local university look in the shelves for halliday and resnick, kleppner and kolenkow and all the other intro to physics and classical mechanics and look through them read a few pages and determine which one you think is best for your style of learning.
  10. Feb 27, 2013 #9
    I would if there were a decent sized university near me. The college I am at right now is small, so they don't carry much more than the books required for the curriculum offered at the college. I do appreciate the suggestion though. I am probably going to end up getting both Halliday and Morin, just to have more of a variety to toy with. If I really like one over the other, I figure I can just re-sell the other one on ebay.
  11. Feb 27, 2013 #10
    Halliday is great and can be had for very little money. As an intro to most subjects I think it's pretty decent. There's also Alonso/Finn, but I've never used it.

    Morin is a good book for all of dynamics, rigid body motion, and special relativity if you cover it. The chapter on Lagrangian mechanics is a pretty decent intro too, but you most likely won't see that in a first physics course.
  12. Feb 27, 2013 #11
    I just ordered Morin, but I am still on the fence as to whether or not I want to get either Halliday or Kleppner as well. Though Morin seems to have the more advanced content of the 3, I have seen a lot of feedback that indicates the other two might be better as starters. Then again, that feedback might just be from the slower learners, and I like a challenge. I just hope that Morin won't go over my head considering I haven't even finished Calc I yet.
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