I’ve got a good grounding in algebra and I’m starting to get a pretty good idea of what trig is all about, and I think that calc is going to be the next step.

I’m looking for a textbook, not a primer. That is, I don’t want something like Calculus for Dummies or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Calculus. I’m looking for the type of book I would get in school, filled with explanations and plenty of practice problems.

So far I’ve got my eye set on Stewart’s Fifth Edition Calculus, but I’ve heard mixed reviews on it on Amazon. Some swear by it, and others hate it. It looks like something I could use, but I just wanted to run this by the math folks here to see if anyone’s heard of it. I don’t mind being challenged, but if this book tries to explain basic concepts to me like I was already an astrophysicist, it ain’t gonna fly, and I’d like to be sure before I plunk down 145+ dollars.

So what do you all think? Is there a calc textbook for a raw calc newbie like me out there? Or should I stick with the Dummies and Idiots book?

I’ve been reviewing using Serge Lang’s A first course in Calculus. It’s well written and gives detailed answers to some of the more challenging problems, a good thing if you’re just reading it by yourself. As you can see, it’s pretty expensive (I found it used), but so are most other textbooks. It doesn’t go into continuity and limits as much as a textbook should, IMO.

You might want to look at Schaums or Barrons outlines, if only for the price. They do have plenty of practice problems, but they tend to skimp on the theory.

Thats the book we use in my Calculus class. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it seems to be pretty readable. Mathmatics books never put enough practice problems in the backs though, that is always my complaint.

I almost wish there were a calculus problem generator somewhere on the net.

The choice of textbooks has a lot to do with what you want to accomplish studying on your own. Are you interested in the theory, i.e., a rigorous treatment? Or are you more interested in learning enough of the mechanics of calculus to understand how it can be applied? Most books fall into these two categories, with some trying to do both. Stewart’s text is wideley adopted, but it may not be suitable for your self-study. My suggestion is to go down to the nearest university bookstore, look at the range of calculus textbooks that are offered, and read through some of them before plunking down a lotta bucks. Or better yet, check out a book or two from the public library.

I have the answer key to Stewart’s book if you want it. It is not just the answers, it shows you how to work out all the problems. It was invaluable when I took calc I and II because if I didn’t understand one of the homework problems I would look for a similiar problem in the book and find out how they solved it then apply it to my own homework.

Hell, I’ll sell you my old copy of Stewarts book as well for far less than $145. its just sitting on the shelf.

Another vote for either of these. An introductory calculus class isn’t the place for theory; that’s what analysis is for. Get one of the aforementioned books-hell, get 'em both–and do a lot of problems. As with any other subject, practice is what will make the difference.

The REA Problem Solvers have good volumes of notes and problems that go well with any text. The key is to use more than one textbook, and to avoid over-use of calculators or software.

As someone who graduated from college many years ago, I looked for a calculus book to replace the one I had and found Thomas’ Calculus (Tenth Edition) by Finney, Weir & Giordano. This book, in my view, offers both the theory along with many excellent and practical example problems.

I used the fourth edition in college (I actually got my copy signed by former Presidential candidate Wesley Clark) and I would recommend that you look for the 3rd or 4th edition and save a lot of money.

I was brung up on George B. Thomas’ Calculus. We used it in high school.

When I learned it was the text used at my college, I borrowed a copy from the high school and boned up enough so that I could pass the Advanced Placement tests and askip over the first semester. A lot of work, but worth it, because it worked.

Moral: You can teach yourself from this book.
Then wee used it for the second semester at college. As a bonus, the author, George B. Thomas, was my professor!

(I learned something from him I never would have otherwise: Look up “Whales” in the index. Evidently he and his editor were feeling punchy that day.)

And you said you didn’t want primers, but I have to stronglt recommend Silvanus P. Thompson’s Calculus Made Easy – it’s not a recent “Dummies” book, but a venerable old tried-and-true book that’s been around forever, and I know it’s still in print, with a new intro by Martin Gardner.

Thanks for all your answers and input. I actually did wind up getting the Stewart textbook, although I’ll be checking out the Barrons and other stuff you guys suggested.

I just wanted to say thanks, Wesley for the offer. A friend of mine at work was a math major and he sold me his copy for a song (I love working in an academic library. Good luck with selling that thing.

Something in this thread seemed familiar, so I went back through my bookshelf, and indeed, I already own a copy of Calculus Made Easy, so that’ll be going on my quick-find shelf.

Here’s the text we used for Calc I, II and III in college. I always thought it was a good text, many illustrations and examples. You get a workout carrying it around too

I like Stewart for intro stuff - my professors were always theory-intensive, and the book helped with both conceptual understanding, and the mechanics of a rigorous mathematical proof.

Once you’re done with that one though, get Advanced Calculus by Buck. Serge Lang’s book still makes me want to cry (yes, it’s great once you already know the material, but if your prof is unintelligible too, you’re sorta up a creek). This one, however, is excellent!

Oh, and my husband says the Schaum outline might be worth checking out, as well. I’ve used them for some other areas of school, and they’re good.

Not only are they good, Schaum’s Outlines are frequently better than the standard texts; far fewer errors, more concise coverage of material, plenty of examples and practice problems, they don’t stretch your arms or slope your shoulders, and they keep your wallet heavy. The only problem I’ve had with them is that they tend to use the most standard notion in a field, and if the prof prefers to use a text with very nonstandard notation then going between one and the other can be confusing. (Not a problem for the OP since he’s doing self-study, but it certainly is a problem with something like control systems or game theory.)

They’re not the end all be all–if you want extensive coverage in a field you’re going to have to research secondary references–and they don’t have four color diagrams, but they’re vastly more worthwhile than the majority of $100+ textbooks.

I’ve heard great things about Schaum’s as well. I plan to use this as a supplement to the textbook. Math is more of a hobby than anything else. It has nothing to do with what I do for a living or even what I do as a real passion. I don’t even have a particular goal in mind, that is to say that if you asked me “What do you plan to do with this?” I really couldn’t answer. I think I’m a bit old to become a hard scientist (and the thought of working in some lab doesn’t appeal to me anyway), and while monkeying around with electronics sounds like something I could get into, I couldn’t see myself as an engineer either. I do math to pass the time when I burn out on library stuff.

You’re my kind of guy. Most engineers and scientists don’t use much calculus in their daily work, either (at least, not directly) but the conceptual understanding and the mental rigor and logic to absorb it are benefict onto themselves.

And plus, you can entertain women at the bar with tales of L’Hôpital’s Rule and the Mean Value Theorem. Let me tell ya’, that really wows 'em.