Simon and Garfunkel used to sing “I have my books and my poetry to protect me”… Here is some protection then! Every book/article I list is followed by a brief description of its contents, along with the reason why I find it interesting.
- Introduction to Electrodynamics, D. J. Griffiths. I remember finding electromagnetism very tricky when I was an undergraduate. A few years later, I have finally found a book where electrodynamics is… fun, as simple as that. Griffiths’ “hands-on” explanations and informal writing style do not prevent the book from being as detailed as a university-level textbook should be; the notation is clear and the necessary, yet sometimes lengthy maths haven’t disappeared. What makes the book valuable is precisely its dual approach to the topic, where both rigour and intuition are encouraged in the reader.
- The Feynman Lectures on Physics, R. P. Feynman. My dad bought for me these three fabulous books; he thought they were a piece of scientific literature that I should have on my shelves. As for many other things, he was absolutely right. The books cover most topics in modern physics – it’s the way they’re introduced which makes the difference! A website which may be worth checking if you haven’t yet come across this title is http://www.feynmanlectures.info/.
- Quantum Mechanics (Vol. I and II), C. Cohen-Tannoudji, B. Diu, F. Laloe. The original version of this two-volume book is in French, and it is the version I am most familiar with. I do hope that the translation into English preserved its stunning clarity and rigour. In my opinion, one of the best books ever written on the theory (and applications) of quantum mechanics. Perhaps not suitable for bed-time reading though!
- Modern Quantum Mechanics, J. J. Sakurai. I know people who find this book hardly accessible – personally, I cannot agree with this criticism. This is the first book I read when I studied quantum mechanics for the first time; I would lie if I said that I never had to read a paragraph twice, but one of its strong points is the way it makes the reader familiarise with the Dirac formalism (kets, bras and so forth) right from the start.
Popular science books and beyond.
- Decoding the Heavens, J. Marchant. [NON-FICTION]
- Arcadia, T. Stoppard. [FICTION]
- Contact, C. Sagan. [FICTION]
- Flatland, E. Abbott. [FICTION]
- I, Robot, I. Asimov. [FICTION]
- The Left Hand of Darkness, U. Le Guin. [FICTION]
- Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, R. Leighton, R. P. Feynman. [FICTION]