Books

Here are some of the books I've used as references in learning physics. Most of them should still be available from your favourite bookseller, although unfortunately many of them are quite expensive.

Electrodynamics
  1. Introduction to Electrodynamics, 4th Edition; David J. Griffiths, (2017) Cambridge University Press. I haven't used the latest edition (mine is the third edition, published by Prentice-Hall), but I'd imagine the general approach would be much the same. A good introductory text, covering the topics in the usual order. It starts with electrostatics and progresses through magnetostatics, time-varying fields, Maxwell's equations, radiation and electromagnetic waves, concluding with a chapter on special relativity and its application to electrodynamics.
  2. Electricity and Magnetism, Teruo Matsushita, (2014), Springer. Also a good introductory text. It covers much the same ground as Griffiths's book, at about the same level. Lots of worked examples, along with exercises for the reader.
  3. Classical Electrodynamics, 3rd edition, John David Jackson (1998), Wiley. A much more advanced book, suitable for graduate-level study. Many derivations are left to the reader. It's generally regarded as a classic in the field, though, so worth having as a reference.
  4. Feynman Lectures on Physics, Richard P. Feynman, (2010, although the notes are based on lectures given in the 1960s). Volume 2 is on electrodynamics, and covers the subject in Feynman's inimitable style, so it's worth a read for some insights into the subject.

Quantum mechanics
  1. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, David J. Griffiths & Darrell F. Schroeter, Third Edition (2018) Cambridge University Press. I haven't used the latest edition (mine is the second edition, published by Pearson), but I'd imagine the general approach would be much the same. A good introductory text, although it contains no background on where the Schrodinger equation comes from, and stops short of much of the theory (such as unitary operators) you need to progress to quantum field theory.
  2. Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Ramamurti Shankar, Second Edition (1994), Springer. Introduces quantum mechanics at a somewhat higher level than Griffiths, but is still suitable as a first book on the subject. It covers several topics not mentioned in Griffiths, such as unitary operators, path integrals and the Dirac equation. Recommended as background for someone wishing to progress to quantum field theory.
  3. Introductory Quantum Mechanics, Paul R. Berman (2018), Springer. About the same level as Shankar's book. Contains a lot of useful background on the foundations of quantum theory as well as covering the usual topics in an introductory book.
  4. Quantum Mechanics: Non-Relativistic Theory, L.D. Landau & E.M. Lifshitz, Third Edition (1981), Butterworth-Heinemann. Volume 3 of the classic 'Course of Theoretical Physics'. A comprehensive book, although not for the faint-hearted. The printing quality is not the best, so it's sometimes difficult to make out the symbols in equations.
  5. Feynman Lectures on Physics, Richard P. Feynman, (2010, although the notes are based on lectures given in the 1960s). Volume 3 is on quantum mechanics, and covers the subject in Feynman's inimitable style, so it isn't the normal order of things you might expect from more traditional texts. Still worth a read for some insights into the subject.
Relativity

Most books on general relativity begin with a survey of special relativity.

  1. A General Relativity Workbook, Thomas A. Moore, University Science Books (2013). One of the most approachable books on special and general relativity. Written in an informal style. The 'workbook' aspect means there are numerous in-text exercises to do which help the reader get to grips with concepts before going on to more challenging problems.
  2. A Most Incomprehensible Thing, Second Edition (2014), Peter Collier, Incomprehensible Books. Although the title doesn't exactly instill confidence in the reader, this self-published book is very gentle in its pace. It assumes very little mathematical background, as the first chapter covers trigonometry, logarithms and calculus before moving on to the physics. It's not comprehensive, but it does introduce the reader to the main concepts in relativity, both special and general. The main drawback is that there are no problems for the reader to solve.
  3. A First Course in General Relativity, Second Edition, Bernard Schutz, Cambridge U. Press (2009). Suitable as an introductory book on both special and general relativity. Spells things out in detail, especially in the early chapters, and contains a large collection of problems for the reader to solve, ranging from almost trivial ones to much more substantial exercises. There is also an official Student's Manual to accompany the book, which contains solutions to many of the problems in the main text.
  4. Gravitation, Charles W. Misner, Kip S. Thorne & John Archibald Wheeler, W.H. Freeman (1973). A monster of a book. Probably not the best first book on general relativity, although if you restrict yourself to the Track 1 material, it's not too hard to follow. I've heard it said that you can learn a lot about gravity just by carrying it around. It's even visible on Fox Mulder's bookshelf in episode 6:14 (Monday) of The X-Files.
  5. Introduction to Electrodynamics, 3rd Edition, (2007) David J. Griffiths, Prentice Hall. Although most of the book is on electrodynamics, the last chapter provides a good introduction to special relativity before applying it to electrodynamics.
  6. Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell, Anthony Zee, (Princeton University Press, 2013). Although this book gets rave reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads, I personally found it very difficult to use. Zee's writing style is informal and leads you to believe you are understanding what he has written...until you try to solve the problems at the ends of the chapters, when you start to realize that you really didn't understand things at all. I wouldn't recommend this book as a first (or even second) exposure to relativity. Calling an almost-900 page book 'in a nutshell' is a bit deceptive as well.