Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
Mesabi Pioneers
Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
Jon Rothschild, Amin Maalouf
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics

The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics - Leonard Susskind, George Hrabovsky An elegant, well-written book. In the first 50 pages or so, Susskind introduces integral and differential calculus, as well as multi-variable calculus, so that he can conduct his discussion of classical mechanics on a high level, so that its beauty and simplicity is clear. I really appreciate this approach.

What baffles me is that this was a NYT bestseller. Who's reading this? The introduction to calculus is cursory -- I imagine it serves best as a review for those who have seen it before. And there are pages of equations that must be slowly worked through to understand what he's getting at, if you don't already know. So it breaks all the rules of a popular science book. Is it really for engineers hoping to brush up on their basic science? Those who have taken calculus and physics, but it was a long time ago, so they want to revisit it? Are there enough of those people to make it a best seller?

Hey, I'm not complaining. This book is at the advanced undergraduate/beginning graduate level of classical mechanics, and if Susskind can make that popular, more power to him. That's fantastic. And from a physicist's point of view, this is really a beautiful book. I'm just not sure what all those folks out there are getting from it. Hopefully enough for them to see some beauty in the math and science. And maybe, just maybe, this is proof that people aren't as adverse to math as we like to think? I'm not sure.