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Best physics books for JAM – Complied by toppers

Contents

Our PAE (Physics After Engineering) community members have contributed to building this nice handy list of books they’ve gone through. Many thanks to them all, and here is the list.

This probably is the only student-made list on the internet! Comprehensive reviews of almost all the standard physics books are present.
If you are preparing for exams like JAM & JEST, I’d recommend you to check the following posts about exam preparation.
There are plenty of posts on JAM preparation in our blog by our beloved community members, here are a few most popular ones:

NOTE:

  • UG level: Books that start with basics, does not contain much of PG level stuff.
  • Both UG-PG level: Books that start with basics, contains a good amount of PG level stuff.
Index
  1. General Physics Books
  2. Quantum Mechanics
  3. Classical Mechanics
  4. Electromagnetic Theory
  5. Mathematical Physics
  6. Statistical Mechanics & Thermodynamics
  7. Oscillations, Waves, and Optics
  8. Electronics
  9. Relativity
  10. Astro & Cosmology
  11. Popular Science
  12. Miscellaneous
  13. Google Form to submit your reviews
If you are interested in adding to this crowd-sourced knowledge repository, Please enter your revise of the books you’ve read in this form (https://forms.gle/zt8spQzUVNmn7tdKA) or you can directly enter your review in the embedded form at the bottom of the page

0. General Physics

     UG level
  • Concepts of Physics by HC Verma: This book covers 12th level topics of Classical Mechanics, Oscillations and Waves, Optics, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism and Modern Physics. It explains concepts really well and is a treasure chest for problems and its conceptual questions. Read the book and more importantly, go through even the subjective questions and solve problems. Obviously, its not enough for JAM preparation and has to be supplemented with subject wise books. But, I still believe its an absolutely essential part of your JAM preparation. – Niket Shah
  • Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick & Walker: A very basic and complete textbook for one’s introduction to physics. Filled with simple and interesting examples with good numericals. A must-read for those who lack basic intuition and problem-solving techniques in physics. Along with HC Verma, it covers more than approx 40% of the JAM syllabus. – Aadesh
  • Concepts of Modern Physics by Arthur Beiser: This very good Introductory UG level book. It explains concepts from atoms, molecules to nuclear physics, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics, special relativity. The book doesn’t deep dive into any of it, but give you a very good introduction to all of them. – Dhananjay Kapse
  • Problems in General Physics by I.E.Irodov: A good collection of problems in general physics. Contains an ample amount of problems to keep you busy for many days. – Divyanshu Tiwari
    If you have got a good amount of time and courage to face several failures in a single question, you should try this book. Does not require advanced knowledge of the UG-PG syllabus but a very strong command on the concepts taught in 11-12th. Spending a day on a single question is normal. Do only if you have a lot of free time. – Mohammad Saad
    Both UG-PG level
  • Feynman Lectures on Physics by R.P Feynman: This book has no problems to solve and very few figures. And sometimes it would not attract you to read this book but remember always the text is the real beauty of this book. The way the writer makes you visualize the physics concepts is phenomenal. This book is a must-read for those who have time and plans to brush up its concepts and knowledge. – Divyanshu Singh

1. Quantum Mechanics

    UG level
  • Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by D. J. Griffiths: As the name suggests, it’s a nice introduction to Quantum Mechanics. If you have no exposure whatsoever to QM, then you should go with this book. It doesn’t have the formalism and rigor of graduate-level books but it is great for a start. –Kunal Vyas
    Both UG-PG level
  • Principles of Quantum Mechanics by R. Shankar: He starts with linear algebra and builds everything on it. He has written the book with the utmost rigor and care. You can start directly with it or come to it after having a little exposure in QM which I recommend. –Kunal Vyas
    Mathematically rigorous, and physically intuitive. This book needs serious work but also yields serious rewards if you go through it with patience. It is beautiful, and it is fun! –Niket Shah
  • Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals by Richard Feynman: It’s written by the developer of path integral formulation himself. Introduces the concept of path integrals, derives all the standard quantum mechanics results, applies to statistical mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, and lot more! –Surendra Padmata
  • Quantum Mechanics Concepts and Applications by N. Zettili: It’s one of the best books to understand introductory quantum mechanics. For UG you have to learn the first 7 chapters. After that, you can go for Modern Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai. –Dhaval
    Zettili’s Quantum mechanics is my favorite book in quantum physics. One who likes a postulate-approach will like this book. The book is mathematically rigorous as well as intuitive. I liked it over Griffiths Quantum physics just because of its easy language, more detailed explanation, and postulate-ry approach. One can start this book by Chapter 2, this chapter is a mathematical preliminary for quantum physics. This chapter comprises of vector space and functional space. One can use Linear Algebra by David C Lay (the most intuitive book which I’ve read for Linear Algebra) as supplementary material for this chapter. Chapter 3 is the postulates of quantum physics. Chapter 3 and Chapter 1 can be read parallelly or one can give preference to anyone of them.  The rest of the chapters can be read in the natural order. If one faces any problem in solving problems of Chapter 4 to onward, he or she can use 500 problems of quantum mechanics by G Aruldhas and Griffiths Quantum Mechanics. With this book, one must solve all problems of Griffiths ( no need to read theory). One can also supplement it with NPTEL lecture by S Balalaxmi but don’t watch in chronological order, stick on the topic in which you are facing problem while reading the book. –Umashankar Pardhi

2. Classical Mechanics

     UG level
  • Classical Dynamics Notes by David Tongs: David Tongs is one of the best at teaching and his notes reflect the same. Lucid explanations and an easy read. The notes are the best to have a firm foundation before moving on to more formal texts. Here’s the link. It would be really good if one goes through all of his notes. –Mohammad Saad
  • Introduction to Classical Mechanics by David Morin: A wonderful book for the first-year undergrads to get a hold on classical mechanics. The book pays attention to minute details and the author explains each detail. I personally liked the book for its long explanations. The book contains A LOT of problems so one must go through it according to the time they have. The problems start from easy and go to very tough. Their solutions are quite detailed as well. So if you are new in the first year and have got a good amount of time, this is a must-read. –Mohammad Saad
  • Classical mechanics by John R Taylor: It’s good for beginners. In it lots of problems with the theory. Good for entrances like jam and jest. After this, Goldstein is an easy task to understand. –Dhaval
  • An Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow: This is a wonderful intro to mechanics for first-year students. Authors have explained concepts in detail and sometimes from a historical perspective. Does not have many problems but very good for concepts and perspective development. – Dhananjay Kapse
    Both UG-PG level
  • Classical Mechanics by Herbert Goldstein: A very complete book. It starts with basics and goes advanced. Also, it has sufficient problems. So it will be a nice start. Also, I really recommend reading it if one wants to develop a good understanding of all the advanced courses like Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Field theory, etc. It will provide you with a nice base to see these advanced things unfold from our classical intuition. –Rishabh Kaushik This is a mathematically rigorous graduate-level book. It is quite comprehensive and you should go for it if you are looking for something very formal. –Kunal Vyas

3. Electromagnetic Theory

     UG level
  • Engineering Electromagnetics by William Hayt: This is another good book on EMT. I thoroughly enjoyed studying EMT from this during my engineering. – Divyanshu Tiwari
    Both UG-PG level
  • Introduction to Electrodynamics by David Griffiths: One of the best books to start with at UG level the explanation is very pedantic and the author is great at presenting physical intuition. The book is the most standard book for UG level with a great mathematical rigor. Concluding: a must-read book. – Debankur Basak

4. Mathematical Physics

     UG level
  • Thomas Calculus by Thomas: If you’re struggling with intuitions and visualizations in multivariable and vector calculus(like directional derivates, multiple integrals, div theorem, stokes theorem, and stuff) this is a must-read book. The illustrations and examples will make your concepts clear. You may use it for other topics as well but it’s a must-read for basic multivariable and vector calculus. – Mohammad Saad
  • Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering by K.F.Riley, M.P.Hobson, S.J.Bence: A good book for exams like IIT JAM, has all the topics explained clearly and in easy language, also some topics have the explanation for their physical importance. – Shantanu D Datar
    Both UG-PG level
  • Mathematical Methods in the Physical Science by Mary L. Boas: It is an amazing piece of writing by one of the best mathematicians. This is a standard book for mathematical physics. There are many books around but the reason why you should read this book is because of its different approach to problem-solving. The main thing that I like about this book is that the writer not only explains the concepts but also the different problems related to that. And the most important thing is that when starting a new concept or chapter the writer starts from scratch and then increases the level like she is teaching you. The book is a must-read for a better understanding of mathematical physics concepts and one should give it a try by reading the first few chapters. – Divyanshu Singh
    This is one book you will love to read and solve problems from it. This book have very good physical intuition and you will learn how to apply mathematics for solving physics problems. You won’t feel mundane as this book is not like other mathematical physics books which strictly focusses on math as ML Boas provides great physicical picture in your mind and the problems are of good quality which makes it a must read book. – Debankur Basak
  • Mathematics: Its Content, Methods, and Meaning by A. D. Aleksandrov: A heavy read to take in. Requires all the time you have. Beautifully explains the emergence of mathematics and covers various topics from UG to PG. If you are passionate about mathematics, its a sure read. I read it somewhere that it is as comprehensive as Feynman lectures. – Divyanshu Tiwari
  • Mathematical Methods by Arfken and Harris: This book is comprehensive and has pretty much everything you need with enough problems to keep you busy. I found it especially useful for Complex Analysis, Special Functions, and Integral transforms. It is an intermediate level book so I wouldn’t recommend starting with this first. – Omkar Shetye
    Best for concept clearing. – Sargam
  • Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos by Steven Strogatz: One of the authoritative textbooks out there on non-linear dynamics and chaos. It introduces a multitude of methods required to study and analyze various non-linear systems for which an exact solution can’t be found and that too actually without solving them! It’s a must-read whatever field in physics you are interested in. – Surendra Padamata
  • Differential Equations with Applications and Historical Notes by Simmons: It can be said that this book will be able to teach you to solve any differential equation that can be solved analytically. The concepts are introduced in intuitive ways without lacking rigor. And the best part is, at the end of every chapter, you will find life stories of the best mathematicians we’ve had. – Kunal Vyas
  • Advanced Engineering Mathematics by Erwin Kreyszig: It’s one of the best books for maths. (For physics students too). Concepts are explained in a precise and intuitive manner. Plenty of intriguing problems are given. It will help you develop your concepts and problem-solving skills both. – Dhananjay Kapse

5. Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics

     UG level
  • Thermodynamics- An Engineering Approach by Yunus A Cengel: This book is particularly better than other books out there because it contains 1) Good quality and a good number of solved examples, 2) Literally a 100+ exercise questions at the end of a chapter (good quality ones) and above all, 3) Theory that is very easy to understand, starts from fundamentals, works up and helps you visualize. The standing out of the quality of this book is that while explaining the theory, it touches those points where a student generally has doubts. At no point after reading a book did I have residual doubts. – Sameer
  • Concepts in Thermal Physics by Blundell and Blundell The book is so amazing. If you want to feel thermodynamics then this book is perfect. The book is good for concept building. But not useful for problem-solving. Because there are not many problems. So for concept building, this is best. – Aditya Sharma
  • Statistical Physics, Physics Berkeley course by F. Reif: It is a very nice basic book. If you are just looking to start Stat Mech then this is the go-to book. Though the treatment in the book is not rigorous and there is no quantum statistical mechanics, it provides great intuition for beginners. Builds up the subject nicely starting from probability itself. – Kunal Vyas
    Both UG-PG level
  • Statistical Mechanics by Pathria and Beale: It covers statistical mechanics and in it the ensemble theory in quite a detail. It talks about everything and in a lot of details. – Sayan Mondal
  • Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics by F Reif: I have tried to view different lecture series on YouTube or other MOOC platforms. But this book is by far the best material on Stat Mech. It starts with a good pace and most importantly it has really good examples to explain the theories. I would suggest you Reif to start with Stat Mech. It’s more advanced than the Berkeley Course book by the same author. – Akash Gupta

6. Oscillations, Waves, and Optics

     UG level
  • Optics by Ajoy Ghatak: This book is a standard book for mainly for optics. This book is quite descriptive but if anyone would read this then he/she can have better understanding of concepts in optics. This book is a must who wants to make their concepts very clear. The author was a very famous personality of India as he had taught for 40 years at IIT Delhi. Also known as the father of Indian optics! – Divyanshu Singh
  • Waves and Oscillations by N.K. Bajaj: Very nice beginning to the subject. – Sayan Mondal
    Both UG-PG level
  • Vibrations and Waves by A.P. French: Detailed, lucid, and formal text. It consists of quite comprehensive and non-trivial problems. I found it much better than N K Bajaj. If you have enough time and love to visualize how things wobble, this book is a must-read. – Aadesh

7. Electronics

     UG level
  • Electronic Devices & Circuit Theory by Robert Boylestad: Contains almost everything for an introduction to electronic devices. – Divyanshu Tiwari

8. Relativity

    Both UG-PG level
  • Introduction to Special Relativity by Robert Resnick: This is a must book for those who want to learn special relativity in its entirety. Book has explained every concept very meticulously, from a historical perspective and way more elaborately than other authors. Ample of intriguing questions and problems are given. The classical formulation of special relativity isn’t given. You have to start relativity with this book. – Dhananjay Kapse
    One of the old classics on the topic of special relativity. Introduces the subject slowly and clearly. If one wants to get their basics right, they should definitely start with this. – Surendra Padamata
    It’s one of the most comprehensive and exclusive texts on SR else most of the time SR is treated in GR texts so Resnick SR is for both UG-PG level(though there won’t be any graduate-level rigor as SR does not require that). – Bhavya Bhatt
    Short and intuitive development and good problems to illustrate the concepts rather than just doing algebra with the formulae. – Omkar Shetye
  • Numerical Relativity: Solving Einstein’s Equations on the Computer by Thomas Baumgarte & Stuart L Shapiro: A great book for understanding how complex non-linear partial differential equations in general relativity which are Einstein field equations are solved on a computer and it applies this idea to a lot of interesting systems ranging from binary black holes, asymmetric neutron starts to Binary neutron stars. It’s one of the books that every person interested in numerical relativity should definitely be looking at. – Surendra Padamata
  • Numerical Relativity by Masaru Shibata: A recent book on numerical relativity and its applications. Written by the legend/expert of the field, binary neutron star mergers. Should definitely check it out. Only heard good things about it so far. – Surendra Padamata
  • Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity by Sean Carroll: One of the best books out there to start off with a general theory of relativity. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s interested in pursuing research on gravity! – Surendra Padamata
  • General relativity by Robert M Wald: One of the most rigorous books out there on general relativity. If you are interested in doing research on fundamental general relativity then it’s a must-read. – Surendra Padamata
  • Introduction to 3+1 Numerical Relativity by Miguel Alcubierre: A great book for understanding the fundamentals of numerical relativity. Part of the abstract of the book copied here for better understanding:
    “Starting from a brief introduction to general relativity, it discusses the different concepts and tools necessary for the fully consistent numerical simulation of relativistic astrophysical systems, with strong and dynamical gravitational fields. Among the topics discussed in detail are the following: the initial data problem, hyperbolic reductions of the field equations, gauge conditions, the evolution of black hole space-times, relativistic hydrodynamics, gravitational wave extraction, and numerical methods. There is also a final chapter with examples of some simple numerical space-times. The book is aimed at both graduate students and researchers in physics and astrophysics, and at those interested in relativistic astrophysics.” –Surendra Padamata
  • The Mathematical Theory of Black Holes by S. Chandrasekhar: All about the rigorous mathematics of black holes and various phenomena that can happen around it. – Surendra Padamata

9. Astro and Cosmology

    Both UG-PG level
  • Gravitational-Wave Astronomy: Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe by Nils Anderson: A great book and a reference for anyone who wants to get into gravitational wave astrophysics. It provides a good overview of the field and ongoing research and future directions. – Surendra Padamata
  • Gravitational Waves: Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Michele Maggiore: A must-have reference for any person interested in doing research on Gravitational-wave astrophysics. It’s the golden standard of the field currently. – Surendra Padamata
  • Relativistic Hydrodynamics by Luciano Rezzolla & Olindo Zanotti: A great reference and resource for getting an overview of GRMHD works, binary neutron star simulations are done, and a lot more! Written in easy and accessible language, it can be your book to start with. – Surendra Padamata
  • Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy: An Introduction to Theory, Experiment and Data Analysis by Jolien D. E. Creighton & Warren G. Anderson: A great book that concisely introduces the ideas in gravitational-wave astronomy and data analysis. – Surendra Padamata
  • Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars: The Physics of Compact Objects by Saul Teukolsky & Stuart L. Shapiro: If anyone wants to understand and do research on compact objects like black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs. This book is a must must read, I cannot stress enough! The golden standard. You can’t go to the next level in research without reading this book, that’s how many important concepts it provides! – Surendra Padamata
  • Accretion Power in Astrophysics by Juhan Frank et al: Accretion Power in Astrophysics examines accretion as a source of energy in both binary star systems containing compact objects and in active galactic nuclei. Very highly recommended for people interested in doing research on accretion disks! – Surendra Padamata
  • Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability by S. Chandrasekhar: A classic for understanding various basics and instabilities in hydrodynamics. – Surendra Padamata

10. Popular Science

  • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku: Enjoyable read. Paints the scenario for current & future technological developments. – Divyanshu Tiwari
  • Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku: Explains the non-existence of pop-sci topics wonderfully or at least the difficulties behind them. – Divyanshu Tiwari
  • Particle Zoo by Gavin Hesketh: As the name suggests, this book is an introductory science book on the standard model of particle physics. A great book though, took me a while to complete it. – Divyanshu Tiwari
  • What if? by Randall Munroe: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions – It is what it says it is. The author is great at making comics too. Check out xkcd. – Divyanshu Tiwari
  • Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking: This book needs no introduction. Pick up, read it, and experience one of the most wonderful feelings you will get after completing this book. – Divyanshu Tiwari
  • Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick: If you want to understand what chaos is, how order can come out of chaos with some very illustrative experiments and experiences, this is the book to go. Very very interesting and well written! – Surendra Padamata
  • Sync by Steven Strogatz: The author illustrates a great set of examples where non-linear dynamics are at action and how they can be modeled. This book can be a great compliment to the textbook on non-linear dynamics and chaos by the same author. – Surendra Padamata
  • The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow: The book tries to show how randomness is part of our everyday life by providing some illustrative experiences and examples. It’s a must-read if you want to understand the intricacies of ideas related to probability, possibility, and how they change based on the choices we make and lot more such interesting explorations! – Surendra Padamata
  • Wrinkles in Time by George Smoot: Illustrates the story behind how George smoot and the team found anisotropies in the famous CMB while struggling through the entire time. This is a very important discovery which helped explain where did all the structures and thus we came from! It’s written very well and can be read within 2-3 days. – Surendra Padamata
  • Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking: This last masterpiece by Hawking is an interesting read. As the title suggests, he has done a tremendous job in briefly addressing to all the big questions which we endeavor to answer through science. – Aadesh

11. Miscellaneous

  • Discovering Modern C++: An Intensive Course for Scientists, Engineers, and Programmers by Peter Gottschling: In this modern-day world, programming has become essential to at least some extent for anyone who’s interested in doing some serious research. This becomes a great way to learn how to program effectively, efficiently, and optimized. It has a great set of examples too to test what you learned. – Surendra Padamata

12. Google Form

If you are interested in adding to this crowd-sourced knowledge repository, Plesase enter your reviews of the books you’ve read in this form (https://forms.gle/zt8spQzUVNmn7tdKA) or you can directly enter your review in the embedded form below

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