Physics Book List
Written by Richard Dawe <firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated 1998-11-18
Here is a list of books that I have read during my four-year Physics MSci
degree. I thought this list might be helpful to someone, so here it is.
Please note that these are my opinions and are therefore probably wrong
for other people. Books are a personal thing, so don't let my comments
stop you from looking at all the books in your library.
The format of the references is:
"<title>" by <author(s)>, <publisher> (UBP
The UBP classmark is the identification scheme used in the University
of Bristol Physics library.
"Analytical Mechanics (3rd Edition)" by G. R. Fowles (03.20 FOW)
- I found this book to be the most helpful when doing a classical mechanics
module. It has nice explanations and diagrams.
"The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz & Hill (101.00 HOR) - This
is probably the best book I've seen on practical electronics. It doesn't
go into much detail about the theory, but concentrates on getting things
"Classical Electrodynamics (2nd Edition)" by J. D. Jackson, Wiley (1975)
- A classic book on electrodynamics. Need I say anymore?
"Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences" by Bevington,
McGraw-Hill - A good book on error analysis, and friendly too.
"Elementary Wave Optics" by Robert H. Webb, Academic Press (42.00 WEB)
- This is a first- or second-year standard book. It has a good section
on polarisation. It's section on Modern Optics is funny - out of date?
It covers Frauenhofer diffraction.
"Equilibrium Thermodynamics" by Adkins - Good thermodynamics book
- Clear, explains the concepts well. It has a scary section on the Cathedory
"Electricity & Magnetism" by W. J. Duffin, McGraw-Hill (41.10)
- This is the best introductory book on electromagnetism that I found during
my second year. In fact, I liked the book so much I bought it, and it's
still useful in my fourth year. It covers electromagnetism in vacuum and
materials, waves and a bit of EM and relativity.
"Electronic Principles" by Malvino, McGraw-Hill (101.00 MAL) - This
is nice to read with a clear style and good pictures. It's a bit wordy,
and it's not as advanced as Horowitz and Hill, but explains the theory
"Elements of Quantum Optics" by P. Meystre & M. Sargent III, Springer-Verlag
(1990), pp. 26-36 - This has the most accessible explaination of FELs
that I found. This is really just an introductory explanation. It has a
nice introductory chapter on synchrotron radiation, coherence and other
foundation topics in QO. The writing style is clear, and the diagrams are
"Free Electron Lasers" by T. C. Marshall, Macmillan Publishing (1985)
- One of the definitive books on FELs - it's referenced frequently. This
is between "Elements of Quantum Optics" and "Lectures on the Free Electron
Laser..." in difficulty. If you want to understand more than just the basics
of FELs, then you should read this.
"Fundamentals of Statistical Physics" by Reif - Boring, it all looks
the same, not particularly helpful.
"The Ideas of Particle Physics" by Coughlan & Dodd, Cambridge University
Press (SLC) - This is a good introduction to Particle Physics. It covers
a lot, but not in much detail. This is the kind of book you can just pick
up and read.
"Introductory Astronomy & Astrophysics" by Zelik, Gregory &
Smith - This is nice background reading. This is definitely a book
that you need to read to get in Astrophysics (I didn't manage this).
"Introduction to Fourier Analysis & Generalised Functions" by M.
J. Lighthill, Cambridge University Press (02.30 LIG) - This is an intimidating
formal book. I didn't make much progress with this in my third-year. It's
probably more suited to postgraduates.
"Introductory Nuclear Physics" by K. S. Krane (20.00 KRA) - This
book is very interesting. It covers a lot of nuclear physics. I found the
chapter on nuclear reactors very interesting.
"Lectures on the Free Electron Laser and Related Topics" by G. Dattoli,
A. Renieri, A. Torre, World Scientific Publishing (1993) - A book I
found very hard to understand. Around page 200 it becomes easier to understand,
and has some nice explanations of the Cerenkov and Smith-Purcell effects.
"Optical Computing: An Introduction" by M. A. Karim & A. A. S. Awwal
(42.30 KAR) - This covers quite a lot of electronics and image processing.
It covers Spatial Light Modulation, which I didn't find to be well explained
in my third-year Modern Optics module. It's maybe more suited to Computer
Scientists, although it is quite a mathematical book.
"Optics" by Hecht & Zajac, Addison-Wesley (42.00 HEC) - This
is friendly, easy to understand and covers quite a lot. This helped with
my Modern Optics course in my third-year.
"Principles of Superconductive Devices & Circuits" by T. van Duzer
& C. W. Turner (132.40 VAN) - This is a friendly introduction to
superconductors, if there is one, with quite a bit on Josephson Junctions
& SQUIDs. It also covers other quantum interference effects in superconductors.
"Principles of Lasers (3rd Edition)" by O. Svelto - This is comprehensive,
but hard going. It has good descriptions of the types of laser and their
"Quantum Mechanics" by Schiff (03.65 SCH) - I found this book heavy
going. Maybe with more effort it would be rewarding and more interesting.
"Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei and Particles"
by Eisberg & Resnick - This covers a lot of stuff, but I haven't
looked at it in detail.
"Quantum Theory" by Bohm, Prentice-Hall (03.65) - Bohm has a deep
understanding of QM, and this comes through in the book. It's extrememly
lucid. I also found it shocking because he explains the fundamentals in
a way I'd never thought about before. It's comprehensive too.
"Statistical Physics" by Landau & Liftschitz - This explains
things in a different manner to other books, perhaps a characteristic of
Landau's books? I found this book hard going during the second year of
"Theory & Problems of Optics" by Hecht (42.00 HEC) - This is
a fairly basic book, and isn't as good as the book by Hecht & Zajac.
"Thermal Physics" by C. Kittel, H. Kroemer, Freeman (05.20 KIT)
- This is a very clear book, nice to read, nicely presented. This covers
some advanced topics, and seemed good for third-year standard.
If you have any (constructive) comments, please e-mail me on