A while back, Lukeprog set up an article to list the best textbooks in every subject.  It currently contains a fairly large list of books in a variety of subjects.

I just got an e-mail from Amazon advertising "Up to 90% off textbooks" and I thought "This seems like a good opportunity to check out a bunch of cheap, good textbooks in subjects I want to learn about!"

When I went over to Luke's post, I discovered recommendations for philosophy, psychology, all sorts of math, but almost none in basic science.

I assume that someone here must have read one or a few basic textbooks on physics, biology, and chemistry.  If so, what were they?  How were they?  Would I be better off just trying to take a basic lecture course in the subject, or going through Khan Academy?

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I'm still keeping that post up to date, by the way, as long as people add recommendations (to the original post) that follow the stated rules.

A wiki page with references to comments that make particular arguments would probably prove more persistent in the long term (it could also link to posts announcing calls for reviews, collect external review lists, etc.).


Yeah, we kind of got off topic in that thread. We probably need a more systematic review system.

For physics, I suggest Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach with Modern Physics by Randy Knight.

Shankar is good introductory text on quantum mechanics at the graduate level.

If you have a good background, you should definitely read The Feynman Lectures on Physics. This one is not for beginners. You have been warned.

Thank you! Ironically I am substantially less interested in physics than chemistry and biology, but I'll look into the books you mentioned.

I'm a graduate student in mathematics, but I haven't taken physics since high school. This makes me nervous about approaching most physics textbooks since I want real basics in some ways but sophistication in others.

I second the rec for Feynman volume 1: it was my favorite text as a freshman, though the class I took used another one. Since that was in the last millennium and I haven't kept up, I won't comment on other books. Volumes 2 and 3 won't be accessible to beginners.

Apologies for being a bit OT, but new account so I can't post this question directly (if that's even the proper approach) - and they're semi-relevant to this question.

I'm trying to remember the location of some maths teaching videos, or enough about them to find them again. They were made by a member of the LW community, though hosted on his own page, and mentioned in a post about self-improvement or similar. I think I mentioned them on here before - they seemed like great videos individually, though sadly lacking signposts from one to the next as a collection. Anyone have any idea what I'm talking about?

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