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Which textbook not to read?

  1. Aug 1, 2014 #1

    micromass

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    Every day on PF, I see people asking for recommendations for textbook on various things. They often get very good recommendations from what I've seen.

    But I want to turn the question around. Which book do you consider so horrible and so ill-written that you think nobody should read the book?
     
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  3. Aug 1, 2014 #2

    adjacent

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    Teach Yourself-Understand Calculus By P.Abbott & Hugh Neill

    The book is very small:
    -Length:19cm; width:13cm:Depth:2.5cm;

    In my opinion, teach yourself books should be large.Only then can I comfortable read it.
    The book gives quite less information about the theory part too. It mostly contains exercises.

    I think it's good for people who already know about the subject, but then why is it named "Teach Yourself"?

    It did not teach me anything useful. My 11 euros was nothing but a waste.
     
  4. Aug 1, 2014 #3

    WannabeNewton

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Aug 1, 2014 #4

    jbunniii

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    Interesting question. There are plenty of bad books out there, but I hope I am unaware of most of them. Here are a few controversial choices among math books: many people like these, but I consider them horrible and ill-written:

    * Folland's Real Analysis - many people complain that Rudin's analysis books are slick, dense, and unmotivated. Folland's is non-slick, dense, unmotivated, and full of typos.

    * Hatcher's Algebraic Topology - one of a small handful of books I have ever put in a fireplace

    * Dummit and Foote's Abstract Algebra - this book is competent and has a wonderfully broad coverage of material, but it is by far the most boring algebra book I've ever read, and it somehow sucks all the joy out of what is in fact a beautiful subject. If this were my only exposure to modern algebra, I would hate the subject.

    * Euclid's Elements - of course this is a monumentally important book, and an amazing achievement of human thought. But it is full of maddening "definitions" such as "a point is that which has no part", and many of its proofs depend on unstated assumptions and/or inferences from diagrams which do not fully capture the general case of the theorem statement. With a companion book such as Hartshorne's "Geometry: Euclid and Beyond", it might be worthwhile reading, but worthwhile does not necessarily mean that it won't be a miserable experience.

    I also found Halliday and Resnick's "Physics" (an early '80s edition) to be awful. Apparently newer editions are even worse.

    One could probably list almost any textbook aimed at college freshmen or lower.

    But undoubtedly many people find something of value in all of these books, so I would not go so far as to recommend that no one should read them.
     
  6. Aug 1, 2014 #5

    micromass

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    Agreed with all of those except Dummit & Foote. The book is incredibly boring, but it has incredibly good exercises and it sometimes contains information you won't find easily in other books.
     
  7. Aug 1, 2014 #6
    What's wrong with Hatcher? I'm about to finish the first section of Munkres Topology in order to move on to alg. topology (and was planning on using Hatcher), so which book would you recommend?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  8. Aug 1, 2014 #7

    jbunniii

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    Yes, I'll always keep it around for that reason. I've never looked much at the exercises, will have to give them a closer look one of these days.
     
  9. Aug 1, 2014 #8

    atyy

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    MTW obiously :) Not to read, but savoured.
     
  10. Aug 1, 2014 #9

    disregardthat

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    I agree with the book of hatcher. It is truly a miserable way to learn algebraic topology.
     
  11. Aug 1, 2014 #10

    WannabeNewton

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    And to be held on the mightiest of pedestals, which evidently really must be mighty in order to support the weight of the book.

    I just thought of another book which I personally consider to be terribly written: https://www.amazon.com/Physical-Foundations-Cosmology-Viatcheslav-Mukhanov/dp/0521563984

    I have never read a more confusing, poorly worded, impossible to understand book in my entire life. Apparently I seem to have bad luck with textbooks written by physicists who were pioneers in various fields of physics, especially Mukhanov.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  12. Aug 1, 2014 #11

    jbunniii

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    I somehow forgot to mention Munkres' "Analysis on Manifolds". I think my brain was trying to do me a favor by suppressing the memory.
     
  13. Aug 1, 2014 #12

    micromass

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    I stopped with Hatcher after it tried to give an intuitive definition of a CW-complex without a formal version in site.
     
  14. Aug 1, 2014 #13

    disregardthat

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    What do you think of Körners A companion to analysis? I thought it was pretty amazing, but many think it was pretty bad, even the professor who held the course at the time didn't like it.
     
  15. Aug 1, 2014 #14

    atyy

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    At least we live in the age of Srednicki. Actually I love Weinberg's books, but as you probably know, I'm a biologist, so I just mainly need the hand-wavy ideas. I think his QFT book is really clear. The QM book is definitely not introductory, and more of a Weinberg meditation. Anyway, I can't imagine how anyone could have learnt QFT from Bjorken and Drell ...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Aug 1, 2014 #15

    WannabeNewton

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    Haha yes, Srednicki is definitely one of the better QFT books if at least just for the end of chapter problems. If you haven't already you should really check out Matthew Schwartz's new QFT book. It's so good I can't even begin to describe it.

    Oh don't get me wrong. His QM book is actually excellent and I haven't yet learned enough QFT to use his QFT volumes but needless to say it has near universal acclaim from researchers so I can't expect any less. It's just his GR book that I find to be absolutely terrible in every possibly way imaginable. GR is not only a geometric theory of physics it is also probably the most beautiful theory of physics and Weinberg goes out of his way to make sure you never see this.
     
  17. Aug 1, 2014 #16

    micromass

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    Why did they think it was bad? I think it's a decent book. Don't tell me that they liked Rudin instead? Rudin probably also belongs on this list, it's horrible to learn analysis from. It gives no motivation or background information at all.
     
  18. Aug 1, 2014 #17

    micromass

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    Anyway, other books that deserve to be here:

    Spivak's mechanics book.
    Ballentine's QM book
    The way of analysis by Strichartz
    Anything by Stewart
    All the Mathematics You Missed: But Need to Know for Graduate School by Garrity and Pedersen (mainly because the title is misleading)
    Wald's GR
    Lang's differential geometry book (not sure what the hell he was thinking when he wrote this)
     
  19. Aug 1, 2014 #18

    WannabeNewton

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    You wanna fite bro? Fite me.
     
  20. Aug 1, 2014 #19

    micromass

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    I only listed the book because you love it more than you love me.
     
  21. Aug 1, 2014 #20

    Doc Al

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    I think this might have been the first calculus book I ever read! A much earlier edition, of course: a small yellow hardcover titled simply "Teach Yourself Calculus" by P. Abbott. I loved that book! Short, sweet, and clear. Read it cover to cover and solved every problem.
     
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