When the IITs set about creating their one of a kind examination half a century ago they probably wished that the exam be a true test of a student’s aptitude for the sciences. They probably wanted to re-create a charm similar to how Russians have so successfully inculcated interest in school students via their Olympiads and contests.
So it’s pretty obvious that they expected the students to clear the examination to be ones who truly enjoyed the process of applying science by gaining the fundamental knowledge of the principles that governed the modern world. Sadly in the mad rush to chase ranks and scores we have shifted our attention to a largely mechanical approach of drill and repetition. This has drawn students towards books which concentrate mainly on solving problems using techniques rather than more nuanced thinking developed by reading great literature relevant to the subject. Indeed, the result is some books JEE made you forget their importance.
Here we wish to highlight or stress on the importance of some such books which provide students a very refined perspective of the subject but have been lost in transition.
#1 Halliday & Resnick:
It is the Bible for anyone looking to master introductory physics. Ask any person who loves Physics and I’m sure there’s no dearth of them and they will tell you that this book whether the Krane or Walker version is a classic. The method of explanation by interspersing with day-to-day examples is almost like a novel and is easy to read when you sit down and read the book for the sake of knowledge. Reading parts of the book provide tremendous clarity which is why any purist Physics teacher will insist that reading this book is a must for those who wish to learn Physics in its truest sense.
We also wish to state that “University Physics” by Sears and Zemansky is another similarly layered and largely successful book which makes a riveting read for the true Physics enthusiasts.
#2 Thomas & Finney Calculus:
All those who went through engineering college may have not so fond memories of this book from their first year mathematics course. However, all digs apart this is a great starting point for anyone wishing to learn Calculus starting from below zero level since most editions of this book cover even pre-requisites. The entire book is flavored with proofs to support the theory which most Maths purists would be enticed by. It’s a great book to learn the basics from and find some really innovative problems which challenge students to think.
#3 Hall& Knight’s Higher Algebra:
A book which teaches concepts that stay relevant till final year engineering and provide a rigorous proof for the same can only be a real work of thought and labor. It covers a wide variety of concepts that most books especially by Indian authors don’t touch upon. For any maths lover this book is a treasure trove of knowledge.
Here too the Barnard & Child Algebra book is very similar and can be said to be one which people could use as a substitute for Hall and Knight. However the former continues to be far more popular.
#4 “Educative JEE Mathematics” by KD Joshi:
This is a unique book oriented largely towards JEE material. What makes it unique is that it has broken all cannons of book writing followed by Indian authors and its style of writing. Each problem and concept is presented with a comment covering a lot of refined aspects ranging from historical references to the examiner’s mindset among others. This is a book meant to be taken as a journey through the subject which is not particularly like the never ending problem collections that Indian authors have so masterfully created over the years.
For the Chemistry lovers we recommend that you do go through Bruce Mahan for Physical, Peter Sykes and Finar for Organic and JD Lee for Inorganic. However the big drawback here is that the sheer coverage of material is huge and leaves absolutely no time for other subjects if one does spend time on these books. If you are an ardent Chemistry lover you can take time out to read these too when you have your preparation on track. That said these books are a must for any person looking to reach the peak of Chemistry Olympiad.
We hope that this article has awakened you towards learning cleanly and from the fundamentals from these wonderful books which trigger your understanding.
Cheers and Good Luck.