What textbooks would you recommend in the following courses?

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kannaki72
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What textbooks would you recommend in the following courses?

Postby kannaki72 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:44 am UTC

I know I could Google this, but either my Google-fu is weak or I'm not getting any meaningful results. Also, many similar questions on these boards are for quantum physics and/or special relativity, and the books recommended look more like popular science books than actual college texts. So, the question: What texts would you recommend for a new student to the following fields.

Physics
Introductory College Physics
Classical/Newtonian Mechanics
Electrodynamics
Quantum Physics
Statistical and Thermal Dynamics
Special/General Relativity, Introductory

Chemistry
Introductory College Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry
Biochemistry
Polymeric Materials
Quantum Chemistry

I suppose, as a sort of disclaimer, I'm not actually trying to teach myself these courses, since I'm a physics major and a chemistry minor. So please don't redirect me to an online reference like Wikipedia that is meant for hobbyists and not serious students. Right now, I'm studying classical mechanics, electrodynamics, organic, and inorganic chemistry--so, yeah, I'm going through with all the standard college texts at some point.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby yurell » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:13 am UTC

kannaki72 wrote:Physics
Introductory College Physics
Classical/Newtonian Mechanics


My highschool textbooks were more than enough for me, those sections were really easy in my uni.

kannaki72 wrote:Electrodynamics
Quantum Physics


For both of these I'm fond of Griffiths -- Introduction to Electrodynamics and Introduction to Quantum Mechanics respectively.

kannaki72 wrote:Statistical and Thermal Dynamics


I found Schroeder's An Introduction to Thermal Physics quite an easy read and easy to understand for this.

kannaki72 wrote:Special/General Relativity, Introductory


Sorry, I wouldn't know a good text for this, all of our stuff was made individually by our lecturers. Turns out my GR lecturer stole all her notes / assignment questions from Wald, though, so it could be a good place to start.

kannaki72 wrote:Chemistry
Introductory College Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry


We used Chemistry3 by Burrows et al. as our textbook, and it is soooo pretty.

kannaki72 wrote:Biochemistry
Polymeric Materials
Quantum Chemistry


Can't help you there, sorry.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Charlie! » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:53 am UTC

kannaki72 wrote:Organic Chemistry

My favorite was Clayden, Greeves, Warren and Wothers. A gigantic New York phonebook of a text, but fun to read.

Special/General Relativity, Introductory

For general relativity, D'Inverno seemed like a good first book. But that's for an actual general relativity course, of course.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Dopefish » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:43 pm UTC

Electrodynamics
Quantum Physics


Griffiths for electro as mentioned, but I prefered Townsends book "A modern approach to Quantum Mechanics" for quantum, although I've read both. Griffiths might be more approachable at first as it stays away from bra ket notation for awhile, but Townsend dives right in with them and I feel like it builds a stronger foundation then griffiths does in the long run.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Scow » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:50 pm UTC

Polymeric Materials


I took a 1st year grad class on this a few years ago. The texts required for that were:
Sperling, Introduction to Physical Polymer Science
Painter and Coleman, Fundamentals of Polymer Science

Both books cover polymer materials with an emphasis on polymer analysis/characterization (and seem decent enough for a endorsement). Sperling is probably the better book but Painter and Coleman was more fun to read.

Physical Chemistry


Among my extensive library of phsical chemistry text books is:
Levine, I. N. Physical Chemistry, 5ed.

I know there are better texts out there but Levine always seems to answer my questions with the perfect amount of depth and background. This is important to me because I'm not really a physical chemist but I play one at school sometimes.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby ConMan » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:56 pm UTC

For General Relativity, the two textbooks that I worked with in Honours year were Misner, Thorne and Wheeler's "Gravitation", and Hartle's "Gravity: An introduction to Einstein's General Relativity". The first takes a more mathematical approach, whereas the second comes at it more from a physics perspective.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby yurell » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:23 am UTC

ConMan wrote:For General Relativity, the two textbooks that I worked with in Honours year were Misner, Thorne and Wheeler's "Gravitation"


I'm getting that one for Christmas ^_^ I really liked the formatting of it when I saw it, so I thought I'd give it a go.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby kannaki72 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:10 am UTC

Thanks for all the suggestions.

But, ouch, I'm not looking forward to polymeric chemistry. :? It looks rather tough, given the texts. Maybe I might skip it for another class. This is a minor, after all.

Are general/special relativity usually taught in separate classes?

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby yurell » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:24 am UTC

We learned special relativity in high school, with a little bit of revision in first year uni for people who didn't. General Relativity we did in third-year Advanced Theoretical Physics.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby big boss » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:57 am UTC

I would suggest griffiths books for E&M and for quantum mechanics if your looking for an upper level undergraduate understanding.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

Introductory College Physics
Tipler is not awful. Most everything is.

Classical/Newtonian Mechanics
Kleppner and Kolenkow -- honors freshman / intermediate level. Fantastic.
Fetter and walecka -- graduate level. Fantastic.
no real favorites at the standard intermediate level.

Electrodynamics
Purcell -- honors freshman / intermediate level. Fantastic.
Marion and Heald -- waves and radiation. Pretty quality.
Landau and Lifschitz -- graduate level. Astounding.
no real love for griffiths, though everyone else seems very pleased with him.

Quantum Physics
Davies -- slim book, introductory. Perfect for what it is.
Sakurai -- advanced. Great for the first few chapters.
Nelson and Chang -- information theoretic perspective. quite valuable, I feel.

Statistical and Thermal Dynamics
Sturge -- I used this one, intro. Not especially popular, but I found it fantastic.
Reif -- used to be the undergrad classic for a while. Still quite useful, especially for non-equilibrium at an accessible level.
Landau and Lifschitz -- the series covers many topics, but stat mech is where the master is at his most masterful.

Special/General Relativity, Introductory
Carroll -- fantastic.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Bakemaster » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:38 pm UTC

I liked the textbook used in my preparatory calculus-based physics series so much that I thanked the professor explicitly for using it. It's the only math or science textbook so far to really impress me. That being said, the most effective techniques for Students are of course not necessarily the most effective techniques for a particular student; YMMV.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Kirby » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Introductory College Physics
Tipler is not awful. Most everything is.


I second Tipler.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby big boss » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:29 pm UTC

Kirby wrote:
doogly wrote:Introductory College Physics
Tipler is not awful. Most everything is.


I second Tipler.


Really? I used Tipler my freshman year and I thought the book was terrible...
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:54 pm UTC

Oh, it is. It's just less terrible than every other physics book that has more than one edition per decade and comes in color. If you satisfy these criteria, you are terrible.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Jorpho » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:40 am UTC

I still like McQuarrie and Simon's "Physical Chemistry: A Molecular Approach", even though some people say it lacks mathematical rigor, apparently. Good for everything from quantum mechanics to thermodynamics – it's a whacking big book.

I've sampled a number of different organic chemistry texts, and I still like McMurry's Organic Chemistry. He takes a nonstandard approach, and I think it's all the better for it.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby yurell » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:44 am UTC

doogly wrote:Oh, it is. It's just less terrible than every other physics book that has more than one edition per decade and comes in color. If you satisfy these criteria, you are terrible.


We had Chabay & Sherwood to fill that niche ... they're essentially better versions of high school text books, rather than university text books.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:35 am UTC

kannaki72 wrote:Physics
Introductory College Physics
Classical/Newtonian Mechanics


I used Serway Physics for Scientists and Engineers or something. It's fine, I guess. For higher level Newtonian/Lagrange stuff, I used Analytical Mechanics by Fowles and Cassidy and was reasonably happy with it. Goldstein's Mechanics is great at the graduate level, although graduate-level mechanics courses are a little out of vogue these days.

kannaki72 wrote:Electrodynamics


Griffiths is the standard book for this. I think Purcell is a little better. At higher levels, you'll probably be using Jackson (which isn't very good, but it's a standard text), or Landau (which is okay, but is friggin' hard).

kannaki72 wrote:Quantum Physics


I like Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Shankar, but there are other good books. Griffiths quantum text, despite being the standard, is very overrated compared to a lot of the other excellent quantum books out there.

kannaki72 wrote:Statistical and Thermal Dynamics


Reif's Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics is fantastic.

I'll also throw in a recommendation for the Schaum's outline series as a great supplement for almost any topic. They're dirt cheap (maybe $20 each), and have tonnes and tonnes of problems with full or partial solutions for you to work through. They're sparse on theory, so they can't replace a real text, but for problem solving, they're first class.

You might want to consider seeing what texts are being used for the courses you're planning on taking though, since they'll better match the syllabus. In a lot of cases, you can get by without the course text, but for some profs, a required text really does mean it's required. YMMV.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:52 am UTC

How can classical mechanics go out of vogue? You gotta solve them shits. You wanna learn how to rhyme, you better know how to add.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:11 am UTC

I get that everybody uses Griffith's for E/M (largely because he uses SI units), but its NOT that good a book. It has tons of examples of brute force calculation, but no appreciation for the tricks/reasoning required to solve actually interesting problems. It also fails to derive the telegrapher's equation when dealing with transmission lines, which is a critical oversight for anyone who actually wants to work with and understand transmission lines.

And Purcell isn't a substitution for Griffith's- Purcell is a freshman level textbook! The better (and sadly neglected for its use of physically motivated units instead of SI) book is Heald and Marion.

To the original poster, avoid those "intro-level" textbooks (like Serway or Halliday, Resnick, Walker,etc). There are highschool level books! I don't know why so many colleges waste 1+ year of their physics student's time with these childish books.

The ideal freshman level mechanics/E/M sequence is Kleppner and Kolenkow for mechanics (avoid their horrifically outdated relativity section) and Purcell for E/M. You can then do an upper level sequence of Goldstein and Heald and Marion for Classical Mechanics/Electricity and Magnetism.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:39 am UTC

I'd probably fit another book in between K&K and Goldstein. We did with Marion and Thornton. I didn't especially enjoy it, so I wouldn't recommend that one relative to whatever other intermediate book you like, but something probably ought be there.

Marion and Heald was definitely quality. Much better than Griffiths.

I was fortunate to be at a place where we could do a freshman year with K&K and Purcell. It's unfortunate that there ought to be three kinds of freshman physics - physics for physicists, physics for engineers, physics for premeds. Roughly. (not to malign premeds; I've had very good ones in the -for engineers version.) And when stressed departments can only offer 2/3 versions, it's the aspiring physicists who get neglected. Or get told their AP credit is enough to skip them into the intermediate level courses... which is not really accurate. It's not an optimal state of affairs.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:07 pm UTC

And when stressed departments can only offer 2/3 versions, it's the aspiring physicists who get neglected.


I don't understand why this should be the case- the cost of a physics phd teaching a 4 credit class is roughly $2k. Even small liberal arts colleges could potentially offer as many physics classes as they wanted. I think its more a lack of vision.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Minerva » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:11 pm UTC

Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics is one of the most highly regarded CED books out there, but it might be a little too "hard" for the lower years of undergrad.

Griffiths' Intro to Electrodynamics is a bit easier.

Griffith's Introduction to Quantum Mechanics is supposed to be good. Also try Quantum Mechanics by Bransden and Joachim. If you want a QM book that is a bit more advanced, try Quantum Mechanics by Merzbacher or Modern Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai.

As always, the answer I give in these cases is to go to the library and look at all these books, and find the ones you really personally like, before you commit to spending money on them.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:17 pm UTC

SU3SU2U1 wrote:I don't understand why this should be the case- the cost of a physics phd teaching a 4 credit class is roughly $2k. Even small liberal arts colleges could potentially offer as many physics classes as they wanted. I think its more a lack of vision.

That is less than the salary I made as a TA, I'm not sure who is paying this for courses.

Jackson is not highly regarded, it is widely used. Quite the difference.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:36 pm UTC

That is less than the salary I made as a TA, I'm not sure who is paying this for courses.


At every university I've worked at, an adjunct makes between $2k and $3k for a 4 credit course. We've never had a shortage of applicants in the adjunct pool. And yes, a surprising number of phds try and cobble together a living from adjunct positions and will take a paycut from their gradschool years.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby You, sir, name? » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:46 pm UTC

For QM, I used Townsend. And I liked it. I have mixed feelings towards Griffiths, mostly because personal disagreements with his E&M.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby KyleOwens » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:14 pm UTC

Big fan of the Griffiths E&M book.There are probably better textbooks out there but Griffiths made it pretty easy to get to grips on a topic without getting too involved in the nitty gritty of it.

For Physical Chemistry I'm loving Physical Chemistry by McQuarrie. Its clear, complete, and big enough to be used to defend yourself during a zombie apocalypse.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:00 pm UTC

SU3SU2U1 wrote:
That is less than the salary I made as a TA, I'm not sure who is paying this for courses.


At every university I've worked at, an adjunct makes between $2k and $3k for a 4 credit course. We've never had a shortage of applicants in the adjunct pool. And yes, a surprising number of phds try and cobble together a living from adjunct positions and will take a paycut from their gradschool years.

Huh, weird. I'm adjuncting now and getting >4, but it's the only place I looked at, so maybe it's anomalous and I hit it lucky. Or perhaps this is a regional thing; if that 2k is somewhere with a cost of living not at all like Boston's, then maybe it's not so shitty as it sounds to me.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Jorpho » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:23 am UTC

KyleOwens wrote:For Physical Chemistry I'm loving Physical Chemistry by McQuarrie. Its clear, complete, and big enough to be used to defend yourself during a zombie apocalypse.
Yay, I am doing my validation dance.

SU3SU2U1 wrote:To the original poster, avoid those "intro-level" textbooks (like Serway or Halliday, Resnick, Walker,etc). There are highschool level books! I don't know why so many colleges waste 1+ year of their physics student's time with these childish books.
Oh, come on. Everyone's got so start somewhere, and some of those higher-level books are downright unusable. (There has got to be a better book for solid state physics than Kittel. If not, someone should make one. It's just sad.)

Wolfson and Pasachoff was my first physics textbook, and I quite liked it. Does a good bit of E&M, too.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:38 am UTC

Or perhaps this is a regional thing; if that 2k is somewhere with a cost of living not at all like Boston's, then maybe it's not so shitty as it sounds to me.


No doubt its awful pay anywhere, but it would be unbearably awful in Boston,LA, or NYC. I imagine they pay a bit better in large cities. Its probably easier to get multiple adjunct positions as well- multiple schools in close proximity and all that.

Oh, come on. Everyone's got so start somewhere, and some of those higher-level books are downright unusable. (There has got to be a better book for solid state physics than Kittel. If not, someone should make one. It's just sad.


Thats why I recommended better intro books that cover similar material- Kleppner and Kolenkow/Purcell. For stat mech, try Reif. For solid state, try Ashcroft/Mermin.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:39 am UTC

Ashcroft and Mermin I enjoyed for solid state.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Minerva » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:05 am UTC

There's a book I think is good called Modern Physics by Serway, Moses and Myer.

It covers modern physics in a more broad but more shallow way.

So you've got a bit of quantum mechanics, a bit of special and general relativity, a bit of nuclear physics, radioactivity, a bit of particle physics, atomic physics, X-rays, a bit of condensed matter physics and quite a bit of applied modern physics stuff, such as the basics of semiconductors, lasers, photonics, particle accelerators, applied nuclear physics, etc. I think that latter kind of applied physics and modern-physics-based-technology stuff is really good because it's usually largely ignored in physics teaching.

But it doesn't include classical electrodynamics, for example, because that's not modern physics.

I don't know of any one specific course that it's helpful for, but it might be a useful supplementary book for QM courses, basic nuclear/particle physics courses, or for laboratory/experimental modern physics courses.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby nehpest » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:18 pm UTC

It seemed more appropriate to put this here rather than starting a new thread.

Spoilered for tangential backstory -
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I'm an electrical engineering student planning to enroll in the MechE department's nuclear engineering course next fall. It covers "nuclear power plant design, operation, and safety, reactor vessel internal and core components, nuclear physics, neutron reactions, fission and moderation, reactor physics and reactor kinetics."

They list thermodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, and thermal physics as alternative prerequisites; as near as I can tell, they are the same courses offered under different departments. I lack the prereqs (and schedule space!) to formally enroll in any of these, so I plan to self-study thermo over winter break.


My question is, what book would ya'll recommend? I'm getting Thermodynamics for Dummies and Thermodynamics Demystified from the public library, but I'd be happiest with an actual textbook for my primary source.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Charlie! » Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:07 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics is one of the most highly regarded CED books out there, but it might be a little too "hard" for the lower years of undergrad.

It also might be a little bit too deadly boring :P
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby exporito » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:12 pm UTC

Charlie! wrote:It also might be a little bit too deadly boring :P

But almost all serious good books on something are boring =)
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby raike » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:51 am UTC

I used Griffiths for E/M; I'm not the greatest fan of it, but things were presented decently and clearly enough. I did feel like a lot of the problems merely required straightforward calculation or computation, as opposed to cleverness and intuition, but that might be a fault of my instructor choosing pathetically easy homework problems.

I learned QM out of Gasiorowicz; I didn't have problems with it - pretty decent textbook; I liked that it had shorter, self-contained chapters. I looked at Shankar for QM as well - I liked it.

For relativity, Carroll. It's a pretty awesome book in my opinion.
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Ormpskel » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:00 am UTC

For organic chemistry, as previously mentioned, you cant go wrong with Clayden, Greaves, Warren and Wothers.

I had lectures from Prof Clayden at manchester uni, and can honestly say he one of the best teachers I have known. The text is clear, concise, well structures helpfully illustrated (organic chem being all about the mechanisms.) Th index is also wonderful, a feature that you might not think of as being the priority for a textbook, but believe me, a bad index makes a textbook nigh on unusable when searching for a specific topic.

Physical Chemistry -
I would recommend Atkins and DePaula's Physical Chemistry. Quite a mathematically dense book, but it descibes the systems and features you'll be studying very well, and has enough knowledge to also be very helpful if you decide to take it further.

Inorganic Chemistry -
I would recommend Shriver's Inorganic chemsitry as the first place to go for, which will serve you well for any inorg. chem course up to a senior/ graduate level. You might also want to look at Housecroft and Sharp's Inorganic Chemistry, which I used to use, and fond quite adequate.


If you wish to specialise yourself with these very broad areas, the Oxford University Press does a very good selection of primers, on topics from aromatic chemistry to organometallics and zeolites. They are small and relatively cheap, and a good way to get into a target study area.


For the rest, you can do a quick trick I learned. Find a university course that is well reviewed, in the area that you wish to study. You can then look at the text's recommend for that course, and that should give you a good idea of where to start. You will find the text choices either in the course cattaloug, or on the university bookstore/ library webpage. Often a great help.

Best of luck with your studies!

Anaximander
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby Anaximander » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:05 pm UTC

I second Griffiths for QM and Electrodynamics with a caveat:

I think Jackson is a more comprehensive book for electrodynamics. To wit: I have returned to Jackson for reference (and seen Jackson referenced) much more often over the years than I have Griffiths. Interesting Tangent: One of the technical mentors in my field actually had Jackson as a prof at University of Illinois. Wonder if his class was as boring as his book? :lol:

Also, second Serway, Moses and Moyer.

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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby doogly » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:35 am UTC

They're totally different. Griffiths is a mediocre (if effective at communicating, as some who are not me say) undergrad book, and Jackson is a comprehensive grad level book (though written, many would say, not so well. Much less well than Griffiths!)
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soggybomb
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Re: What textbooks would you recommend in the following cour

Postby soggybomb » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:43 am UTC

Griffiths is good for an intro Quantum Mechanics class (I had the option of using whatever text I wanted, so I picked that one up), but is only OK for E&M. Purcell is probably a bit better for E&M. For an intermediate level Classical Mechanics book, I enthusiastically recommend Taylor's book. I find it to be very clear, and he really gets at the essence of the beauty of Lagrangian formalism.


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