7 Best Physics Textbooks | March 2017

We spent 30 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. With the cost of college tuition and board reaching astronomical levels, any science student would be grateful to receive one of these physics textbooks. But for those who are not fortunate enough to get such a gift, we've included a few that are well within the reach of even the most cash-strapped students, yet still provide a through coverage of their subject matter. Skip to the best physics textbook on Amazon.
7 Best Physics Textbooks | March 2017

Overall Rank: 2
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 4
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 1
Best Inexpensive
The e-book Work, Energy, and Power: An Introduction to Basic Energy Physics by Sarah Allen is available as a free download to your Kindle and makes a great introduction to the world of physics. It also serves as simply an enjoyable, edifying read.
As the playful name would have you guess, the No Bull---t Guide To Math and Physics takes a lighthearted approach to serious subject matter: the very manner in which matter and energy relate and function. It makes for great summer reading before the semester begins.
The book College Physics: A Strategic Approach sets a high new standard for algebra-based physics. The book and its related supplemental materials work together to help students achieve the foundation they need for more advanced, specialized studies.
Professor, PhD, and author Douglas C. Giancoli's textbook Physics: Principles with Applications is now in its 7th edition and is praised by students and peers alike as being both elegant and engaging. The book uses both conceptual and real-world examples.
  • contains a plethora of practice problems
  • impressive 1,088 pages long
  • not suitable for beginning studies
Brand Brand: Addison-Wesley
Model pending
Weight 5 pounds
The textbook Fundamentals of Physics: "Mechanics, Relativity, and Thermodynamics" is part of the Open Yale Courses Series, so you can count on two things: a great resource filled with vital information and a great low price that puts this book in the reach for all.
  • by "contagiously enthusiastic educator"
  • covers fundamental concepts of physics
  • well received by professional educators
Brand Shankar, R.
Model pending
Weight 1.8 pounds
The textbook University Physics with Modern Physics by Young, Freedman, and Ford is currently enjoying its 13th edition, so clearly there is much merit to this volume. It's an expensive book, but one intended only for the student pursuing advanced studies in the field.
  • covers mechanics and electromagnetism
  • authors hold multiple degrees
  • great reviews from readers
Brand Brand: Addison-Wesley
Model pending
Weight 7.2 pounds
The most striking thing about Basic Physics: Self-Teaching Guide by Karl F. Kuhn has nothing to do with force or gravity, but rather with the fact that it costs less than fifteen dollars. This easy-to-read book is a great primer for anyone interested in advanced physics.
  • requires minimal math prowess to enjoy
  • lists objectives for each chapter
  • end-of-chapter self-tests
Brand Wiley
Model pending
Weight 1.3 pounds

Are Physics Textbooks Only For Students?

Physics is a the study of forces that govern much of the known universe. Concepts of physics directly influence every aspect of life, so it is no wonder the number of people choosing to study the topic is on the rise. Physics textbooks provide an easy way for students of all ages to learn about these concepts.

Contrary to popular belief, physics textbooks are not simply for academies and students. While many are written to cater to these institutions, a self-learner stands to benefit from this as well. Physics textbooks tend to be broken down into succinct and easy to follow chapters. The study of physics textbooks also tends to take place in order; meaning that they will not delve into the mind-boggling realm of spinning tops before they explain Newton's Laws.

Any prerequisites for understanding concepts are generally covered in the first few chapters of a textbook, and can help bring any learner up to speed with some of the most basic concepts of physics. It is also important for the reader to have a strong grasp over basic algebra and trigonometry, as well as concepts like the Pythagorean theorem.

Textbooks are also made to be read. While it can seem like an obvious notion, literature put out by the physics community is difficult to follow by most standards. Textbook manufacturers take it upon themselves to digest this information and rewrite it in ways that make the concepts accessible to all who read them.

What Types Of Topics Do Physics Textbooks Cover?

The ultimate goal of physics is to better understand physical reality. To do this, physicists have built a series of fundamental laws and theories used to describe how forces in reality function. From the first time a physics textbook is opened, some basic principles will need to be covered and understood.

While physics is evolving every day, the understanding we have of the basic theories of physics came from one man in the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton. Newton's first law of motion states that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an outside force. Likewise an object in motion remains in motion unless acted on by an outside force. His second law of motion states that acceleration occurs when a force acts upon a mass. The greater the mass of the object, the more force it will require to move. Newton's third law famously states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton also developed a law of gravity, which explained the attractive force between a pair of masses. This was an incomplete law, however. A more comprehensive understanding of gravitational forces came with Einstein's most notable equation, E=mc². This theory of relativity shows that the increased mass of a body comes from the kinetic energy of that body, divided by the speed of light squared. This raised the idea that mass and energy are the same physical entity, and changed the field of physics forever. These make up some of the most basic concepts that every physics textbook will touch on.

Noteworthy Fields Of Physics

The public interest about the topic of physics has piqued in the modern era. While physics as a whole is the study of the nature and properties of matter and energy, there are a a vast number of different fields covering various aspects of physics.

Particle physics is one such field which has gained popularity recently. This is largely due to a number of new discoveries being made, such as the Higgs-boson particle. In short, the Higgs-boson particle is responsible for giving the universe its mass. The Higgs field was the last missing piece in the Standard Model of particle physics. The discovery of the Higgs-boson particle marked a huge milestone in the human understanding of nature, and allows physics to move towards new discoveries with ease.

Quantum physics is another interesting area which deals with the fundamental theory of nature on the smallest scale. Fro example, one principle of quantum physics is that everything in the universe is made up of particles, while simultaneously being made up of waves. For instance, a photon is considered to be a particle of light. In reality, it is not a particle alone, but an excitement occurring in a quantum field of energy. It is easy to isolate small particles like photons or electrons in conversation, but in their natural state, they exist in the inseparable particle-wave state.

Another fascinating idea stemming from quantum physics is the idea of quantum entanglement. In quantum physics, any particles which are entangled remain connected even after they separate. Actions performed on one of these particles will affect the other entangled particle. Two entangled particles may have miles put between them, but if one begins an action, the other begins a similar action near-instantaneously. While Schrodinger was the first to use the term entanglement, Albert Einstein famously called it spooky action at a distance.

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Last updated: 03/28/2017 | Authorship Information