Best Physics Book Reviews 2018

Albert Einstein’s discoveries have shaped our world in more positive ways than otherwise. But we need many more brilliant minds who will build on Einstein’s discoveries or make new ones. And it starts with the right physics book! We are well aware that many wannabe physicists have thrown a ton of garbage into the market that makes selecting the right textbook a Herculean task. Not to worry; this entire review is a product of our thorough research on the best physics books from five top physics authors. Please, note that we also have reviews for astrology, architecture, and biology books and textbooks if you’re also in the market for those.
Our Top Choice
Randall D. Knight College Physics Book
Randy Knight, Brian Jones, and Stuart Field apply effective results acquired from many decades of educational research, refine them, and tailor them to meet the needs of students.
Comes with 2 workbooks. 200+ QR codes for viewing videos on smartphones. Pearson’s MasteringPhysics tool. Features classroom intelligence structure. Streamlined chapter reviews.
It is quite pricey.
Algebra-based introductory
College students
Knight, Jones & Field
1088 pages
Best Value
R. Shankar Fundamental of Physics
R. Shankar, an award-winning Professor of Physics at Yale University, is well-known for his enthusiastic approach to explaining difficult things in a lucid and simple manner.
Comprehensible. Suitable for college students and leisure readers. Explains the basics of mechanics, thermodynamics, and relativity. Step-wise organization of ideas.
Knowledge of calculus is necessary to understand the proofs in this book.
Introduction to Physics
University students
R. Shankar
464 pages
Douglas C. Giancoli Physics for Scientists and Engineers
Douglas C. Giancoli is a well-versed physicist who has taught a number of courses to undergraduates. His aim is to make physics more comprehensible for students.
Engaging. Practical. Doesn’t oversimplify core principles of physics. Accurate and precise information. Has pedagogical features that encourage better understanding.
Some people think it will be better used as a supplementary book because it doesn’t have much detail.
Calculus-based general Physics
College students
Douglas C. Giancoli
448 pages
Karl F. Kuhn Basic Physics: A Self-teaching Guide
Karl F. Kuhn is a renowned professor of physics at Eastern Kentucky University. He is well-known to make the most complicated subjects simple and easy to understand.
Comprehensible. Suitable for non-majors. Provides option of mathematical and non-mathematical approach. Revised to ensure it can be self-taught. Chapter objectives for insights.
Not as basic as some people would hope.
Guide; questions and answers
Karl F. Kuhn
320 pages
Stephen Hawking George’s Secret Key to Universe
Stephen Hawking is a Professor of Mathematics and one of the brilliant minds of theoretical physics. Among his books, he coauthored an educative bestseller with his daughter Lucy.
Humorous. Educative and informative. Suitable for kids who don’t like science. Contains scientific drawings, pictures, and illustrations.
Even though mature readers may find it fascinating as well, some may find it a bit cheesy and oversimplified.
Pictures; illustrations; story
Lucy & Stephen Hawking
336 pages

(Updated )
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Watch Our Physics Book Review

How Do I Choose the Best Physics Book?

The knowledge of concepts in physics is no longer restricted to engineers and scientists. Many people have come to realize that the universe is bound by forces that only physics can explain. The first-grader wants to know how colors come about and the chef wants to know how his magnetic kitchen knife bar holds all his knives in place without slipping off, while the veteran photographer wants to learn about the optical features of DSLR cameras before making a choice.

These are only a few of the million-and-one everyday questions that most people seek answers for. So, whether it’s for a student, professor, or the self-learner, there’s a way to explain the forces that influence almost every area of life. And many times, it comes through the right physics book.

Just as we observed with books on biology, astrology, and architecture, there’s always a challenge with how to get the appropriate physics book.

An eighth-grader may not appreciate a professor’s choice of physics book on his book rack because of the technicality in delivery. In fact, presenting a professor’s choice to this young reader may scare him away from anything related to physics for life until there’s an intervention.

This is why you need to identify your specific needs and purpose in order to get the best physics textbook. We will now show you a few things that will help you make an informed choice.

P.S. Being spoilt for choice (and with limited space for more individual reviews), we omitted the following books but just feel they are so good that you should be made aware of them. Do make time to check them out…
  • Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David J. Griffiths
  • Sears and Zemansky's University Physics with Modern Physics, 13th Edition by Hugh D. Young, Roger A. Freedman and A. Lewis Ford
  • The Feynman Lectures on Physics, boxed set: The New Millennium Edition by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands
  • The Cartoon Guide to Physics (Cartoon Guide Series) by Larry Gonick
  • Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein
It’s no news that academic books cost quite a fortune, and there are some that are way pricier than others. If an author has a strong authority on a certain concept or principle, his books will likely come at a higher price than any other book. In any case, the price of physics books falls within the range of $20 and $400.

Further, it would be great injustice not to warn you about the dissatisfaction you’re likely to experience with cheap physics books that don’t give concrete information. You will do well to avoid them, and to spend a little more for a more reliable book.
Increasing your knowledge about physical sciences at any level comes easy when you have the right physics book. You’ll only get to know the right book when you know what to look out for. And here are a few factors:
  • Scope
  • Accuracy of information
  • Illustrations
  • Pedagogical features
  • Date published
  • Availability online
Construction and Design

When it comes to durability, hardcover books tend to get more attention than paperbacks. But some people prefer paperbacks because they are lighter and less bulky than hardcovers. Nonetheless, a recent study revealed that a used paperback has a considerably lower resale value than that of a hardcover book.

Further, with the world advancing into the digital age, e-books on online platforms and CD-ROMs seem to be gaining widespread acceptance because of their portability. More so, you’ll have fewer durability issues to worry about. If a book comes with a software, you must ensure that the technical requirements are available and there are no restrictions on how it can be used.

Illustrations and Pedagogical Features

Illustrative books are more likely to explain concepts better than books that are full of lines and columns of text. Pedagogical features also aid proper and effective understanding for students. So, you may want to look out for problem-solving techniques, self-assessments that test the level and progress of mastery, synthesis boxes that highlight major principles, equations and concepts, and chapter content listings for quick access to particular sections in the book. These features make comprehension seamless and fast.

Date of Publishing

Why does the date of publishing matter? The answer lies in why authors make several editions of a particular book. For one, the world is revolving, errors are detected, and these errors need to be corrected. This is why authors update information written in their books.

To ensure that the knowledge you’ll acquire from a certain physics book doesn’t make you feel awkward when you share it in an academic setting, you should look out for publishing dates and editions. 5 to 10 years ago and 2nd editions and later are safe zones. You’ll be sure errors have been corrected and the information is up-to-date.
Performance and Ease of Use

If you’re a high school or college student, it’s best that you also consider the syllabus run in your school to know the sort of physics book you should go for. This is because it’s possible that you go for a book with only some of the concepts that are relevant to your course. And some books may even be advanced for your level, even though they come with appellations such as “basic” and “fundamental”. Selecting a book in any of these two categories will cause a lot of regrets knowing that books cost wads of bucks.

As a tutor, you want to be sure that most of the important things your students should know are included in the book you’re considering. This means that while you’re looking for books that explain concepts of physics in a lucid and engaging manner that your students can understand, you should also avoid books that oversimplify these concepts so that your students can appreciate core principles well enough.


Clarity of idea is a noteworthy factor that must be considered. Physics in itself is a technical subject and we don’t need a jargon-littered book to remind us that science students are serious people. But while professors tend to go for books with technicality, students love the ease of comprehension that comes with the more-simplified texts.

What is the Best Physics Book?

We’re certain that having gone through our buying guide, you’ll have an informative and awesome read. And we hope your choice satisfies your needs well enough.
Our Top Choice
Randall Knight et al.’s College Physics Book explains the concepts of introductory physics from an algebraic perspective. It also helps students and tutors acquire useful critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You may also check out the Randall Knight Physics for Scientists and Engineers book. It has helped students develop a deeper understanding of difficult physics concepts for over 50 years.
Randall D. Knight College Physics Book: A Strategic Approach with Workbook and Mastering Physics Value Pack Access Card – Hardcover, Published on January 17, 2016

Randall D. Knight Physics Book 978-0134167831 – 3rd Edition

Randall D. Knight is a Professor Emeritus of Physics at the California Polytechnic University who taught physics to college students for well over 32 years in different institutions. He has successfully published 3 physics books that have helped many students develop a better understanding of difficult concepts in physics. Brian Jones is a multiple-award-winning physics lecturer who has a 25-year record of teaching Physics at the Colorado State University. He is actively working on more effective ways to develop informal science education in colleges. Stuart Field has always been a science and technology enthusiast. In his school days, he built electronic circuits, telescopes, and computers. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and completed positions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. He is currently running a research program in superconductivity.

Randall’s College Physics book offers a new approach to understanding the concepts of introductory physics using algebraic methods. It encourages student feedback while using meta data and educational research as avenues to improving students’ learning.

Having this book gives you the privilege to use the e-learning tool known as Learning Catalytics—a classroom intelligence tool that assesses your level of understanding in real time and improves your critical thinking.

You also get to enjoy the benefits of the pre-lecture videos presented by co-author Brian and administered through Pearson’s Master Physics learning tool. These videos expound the ideas delivered in the book and help you evaluate your knowledge acquisition progress through brief multiple-choice questions.

This book doesn’t just dump ideas in your head; it helps you focus on the most important concepts that were discussed in the previous chapter with ‘Stop to Think’ questions that help you refresh your mind about what you learned. It then integrates the previous knowledge with the new things you’ll read about in the new chapter.

Synthesis boxes are also employed to integrate key concepts, equations, and principles—a feature that not only summarizes what you’ve read but offers a deeper relationship between similar and contrasting details.

Problem-solving strategies in this book create a holistic view of the main ideas in each chapter so that the questions are self-contained and useful for reference purposes.
Best Value
R. Shankar’s Fundamentals of Physics explains the concepts of physical science from theories postulated by Newton and Galileo to the revolutionary ideas of the 20th century. They are explained systematically for easy comprehension. R. Shankar’s Fundamental of Physics II may cover the concepts of physics you’ll love to learn—check it out. It explains electromagnetism, relativity, and optics.
R. Shankar Fundamental of Physics: Mechanics, Relativity, and Thermodynamics – Available in 2 Formats

R. Shankar Fundamental of Physics Book 978-0300192209 – Open Yale Courses (Book 1) – Paperback

2009 award-winner of the American Physical Society’s Lilienfeld Prize, R. Shankar is a Professor of Physics at Yale University. His contagious and enthusiastic approach to educating his students have endeared him to many onsite and online students all over the world. He also employs pedagogical tools and a dollop of his good humor in lecture deliveries so that his students can gain a better understanding in the relaxed environments he so often creates. As one of the pioneering lecturers on the Open Yale Course program, his course on Introductory Physics gained widespread popularity in countries including the United States, India, Australia, and China. He has also authored two other physics textbooks that have equally been beneficial to many students and tutors—Principles of Quantum Mechanics and a book titled Basic Training in Mathematics: A Fitness Program for Science Students.

The Fundamental of Physics Book by Professor Shankar is a concise and self-explanatory book that explains the basic concepts of physical science from discoveries by founding fathers such as Galileo and Newton, to the revolutionary ideas bordering on quantum mechanics and relativity that have been developed in the 20th century.

Its systematic organization of ideas involves educating its reader from the beginner’s level to developing the basics, establishing the fundamentals, and providing a strong foundation in physical science. So, a reader who does due diligence to studying this book is better informed than his peers.

It is, therefore, suitable for college students majoring in chemistry, physics, and engineering, as well as for leisure readers who hope to gain knowledge about developments in science.

This 464-page paperback physics book promises you a relaxed yet intuitive understanding of physics. So, you shouldn’t waste much time before ordering it. More so, if you have a high school senior who is struggling with his physics grades, this can help him get a better understanding of the concepts he is being taught.
The 4th edition of the classic book Physics for Engineers and Scientists comes with a number of exciting revisions and inclusions that make for better understanding. It explains concepts of physics in an interesting way. Do you want to view the world through the eyes of an expert physicist? Then try Douglas Giancoli’s Physics: Principles with Applications – 7th edition. It is concise and engaging.
Douglas C. Giancoli Physics for Scientists and Engineers Vol. 2 – 4th Edition – Available in 2 Formats

Douglas C. Giancoli Physics Book 978-0132273596 – 4th Edition

Douglas C. Giancoli graduated with a BA from the University of California Berkley, obtained an MS at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in elementary particle physics at UC, Berkeley again. In the 2 years he spent in post-doctoral fellowship at the Virus lab in UC Berkeley, he developed skills in biophysics and molecular biology. Among his mentors are Nobel Laureates Donald Glaser and Emilio Segre. Donald taught traditional and modern physics to undergraduates and still continues to revise his books to accommodate the advances that have been made in physical sciences. His aim is to provide ways through which students can understand the concepts of physics better.

His book titled Physics for Scientists and Engineers is the 4th edition since its first publication. This book helps every college student majoring in a physics-related course to appreciate the world of physical sciences through the eyes of a well-versed physicist. Like other texts written by Giancoli, this book is delivered in an engaging and concise manner that a regular reader who is inquisitive can relate to.

It’s elegant in delivery, lucid in presentation, and boasts a great depth of quality content. It also uses concrete observations and relatable experiences that reflect science in a practical manner.

Even though the main idea of the book is to help you understand the concepts of physics better, it also makes interesting illustrations from biology, architecture, medicine, and digital technology. The essence of this relationship to everyday life is to help you appreciate the importance of physics to every profession and to your future endeavors.

It also employs pedagogical features such as improved clarity relative to older editions, the use of colors and pictures, problem-solving notes in the margins, and step-by-step examples.

Revisions made in this edition include chapter-opening techniques, and content listing of the chapter on each chapter-opening page so that you don’t have to go back to the table of contents to get to a certain page or section of the book.

Moreover, there are now new approach steps added to the worked-out examples to help you understand the basis on which the method of solution was selected and notes that include suggestions on other methods of solving a problem.
Basic Physics: A Self-teaching Guide explains the principles of physics clearly. It’s written in plain language and well-illustrated with colorful and interesting everyday examples that aid proper comprehension. Want something else that isn’t so technical? Then try the book, Physics for People Who Think They Don’t like Physics. It explains physics in a conceptual way to non-science majors.
Karl F. Kuhn Basic Physics: A Self-teaching Guide – Available in 2 Formats

Karl F. Kuhn Physics Book 978-0132273596 – Paperback – 2nd Edition

Karl F. Kuhn is a renowned professor of physics at the prestigious Eastern Kentucky University in the United States. He is known to have published classic physics books that have helped many students grasp the concepts of physics properly. He takes the most complicated issues in physical science and simplifies them for easy comprehension. Among his classics include Physics for People Who Think They Don’t Like Physics and In the Quest for The Universe. One thing that many find common to his books is the simple manner with which he presents the ideas without oversimplifying the core concepts of physics.

The book Basic Physics, written by Professor Karl F. Kuhn, provides an easy and fast way to learn the basics of physics. It’s written in a practical and easy-to-understand format so that you can appreciate the world of physics better. It is equally suitable for non-science majors and those who are merely inquisitive.

It will come in handy when you need a helping hand in a science-related course or when you need to go over the basics before an exam. And if you just want to satisfy the thirst for knowledge about physical phenomena such as light, sound, electricity, and color, this book will be perfect for you.

It has gone through a number of revisions and retesting so that you are able to teach yourself effectively in a way that you’ll understand. You also don’t need to have aced a mathematic course because it provides you with the option of choosing between a nonmathematical approach and a mathematical approach.

You can study this material at your own pace and take advantage of the invaluable question-and-answer format. At the end of every chapter, you can check your level of mastery of the chapter by taking the end-of-chapter tests provided.

It also features a list of chapter objectives so that you can track the sections and have an idea of what will be discussed in each chapter.
George’s Secret of the Universe uses a fictional and humorous adventure to explain fascinating and awe-inspiring facts about the universe. This book promises an interesting and educative read for young scientists. Stephen Hawking has another classic titled The Universe in a Nutshell. This book will help you understand all that the universe stands for from a physicist’s perspective.
Stephen Hawking George’s Secret Key to Universe – Published on October 23, 2017 – Available in Multiple Formats

Stephen Hawking Physics Book 978-1416985846 – Paperback

Stephen Hawking is a renowned Professor of Mathematics at the prestigious University of Cambridge who is popularly referred to as one of the most brilliant minds of theoretical physics since the famous Einstein. He has also written a number of books that have risen to critical acclaim. For instance, his book titled A Brief History of Time has sold over 12 million copies all over the world.

Lucy Hawking has written two adult books and coauthored George’s Secret Key to the Universe with her father, Stephen Hawking. She doubles as a journalist who has also written articles for the British Newspaper and as an administrative personnel at University of Cambridge’s Autism Center.

George’s Secret to the Universe is a timeless piece that uses a humorous adventure to explain the awe-inspiring and fascinating facts about our universe. It also includes Dr. Stephen’s recent ideas on black holes.

This book is explained in such a way that readers across all age groups can benefit from it. It tells the story of three peoples’ funny adventure with their personal computer called Cosmos. This computer helps them get to different planets and into a black hole. Their greatest fear, however, is what will happen if other people got their hands on their loyal companion and tour guide Cosmos.

The aim of this fictional book is to help young readers understand the mysteries and perks of science. Readers in higher age ranges can equally benefit from this book, though some may find it a bit oversimplified.

It contains energetic illustrations and scientific drawings which provide clarity for the reader. It also features 4-page inserts of scientific photos that will help you appreciate the main idea of the book.

Get the Best Physics Book of 2018!

We’ve come to the end of this guide and we’re glad you came along with us. Now that you have all the information you need, there’s no better time than now to place an order. You can also use the navigation links for more options from these top authors.

Our Top Choice
Randall D. Knight College Physics Book
Best Value
R. Shankar Fundamental of Physics
Douglas C. Giancoli Physics for Scientists and Engineers
Karl F. Kuhn Basic Physics: A Self-teaching Guide
Stephen Hawking George’s Secret Key to Universe