Special Relativity (some great, some not so great)

A Listmania! list by gengogakusha "gengogakusha" (Tarrytown, NY USA)
The list author says: "[UG] = undergraduate; [AUG] = advanced undergraduate, [G] = graduate; [M] = very mathematical.

Serious books on special relativity suitable for self-study are strangely hard to find... here's what I've found. I've included some books on tensors at the bottom because serious students need to learn them and one should learn them separately.

Books listed roughly in order of my personal preferences."
Special Relativity (Springer Undergraduate Mathematics Series)
1.  Special Relativity (Springer Undergraduate Mathematics Series) by N. M. J. Woodhouse
The list author says:
  "[AUG/G, M] Excellent but challenging: very concise, lucid, and totally rigorous. Stresses Maxwell's eqs at start.  For math majors so heads up!  Touches on many cool topics like gauge invariance.  If you can hack the math, this book rocks!"
$39.96   Used & New from: $25.70
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Special Relativity: From Einstein to Strings
2.  Special Relativity: From Einstein to Strings by Patricia M. Schwarz
The list author says:
  "[AUG] Highly recommended! Unique in that it covers elementary topics as well as a variety of advanced topics.  Overall more advanced than advertised but wonderful for moving to an intermediate level.  Great discussion of pole & barn paradox. Uses some differential geometry, group theory so be prepared."
Used & New from: $64.95
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Flat and Curved Space-Times
3.  Flat and Curved Space-Times by George Francis Rayner Ellis
The list author says:
  "[AUG] Serious but great starter book (more demanding than French and IMHO overall superior to Taylor/Wheeler for a start). Don't know why it doesn't get more press.  Very nice, detailed physics based treatment with solid math development. Clear self-study friendly exposition  Has intro to general relativity."
$74.80   Used & New from: $48.08
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Spacetime Physics
4.  Spacetime Physics by John Archibald Wheeler
The list author says:
  "[UG/AUG] Unique, annoying neologisms: free-float frame, momenergy; math-lite. Stresses foundational issues often misunderstood. Ex: why mass is not same as energy; mass as invariant; unit conversion issues and importance (mass in length units, velocity as dimensionless scalar).  Liked Q&A part. No answers to the interesting problems :(  Don't miss out!"
$81.71   Used & New from: $35.63
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Special Relativity (M.I.T. Introductory Physics)
5.  Special Relativity (M.I.T. Introductory Physics) by A. P. French
The list author says:
  "[UG/AUG] Easiest book on my list. Good first book making few demands on math skills.  Dated in ways (a 60s book) but has lots of physics motivation.  Very clear explanations. Way, way overpriced!  Well, that's why there're libraries!"
$77.85   Used & New from: $29.99
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Introduction to Special Relativity (Oxford Science Publications)
6.  Introduction to Special Relativity (Oxford Science Publications) by Wolfgang Rindler
The list author says:
  "Interesting, brief but reasonably complete introduction.  Fast pace; generally clear. Personally I like some newer books better but it's interesting to read his explanations."
$62.44   Used & New from: $19.99
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

The Special Theory of Relativity: A Mathematical Exposition (Universitext)
7.  The Special Theory of Relativity: A Mathematical Exposition (Universitext) by Anadijiban Das
The list author says:
  "[G, M] Great mathematical treatment based on differential geometry aimed at physics-oriented folks.  Has some advanced topics  spinors, relativistic classical field theory. If you're ambitious, check it out!"
$88.71   Used & New from: $53.00
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

The Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime: An Introduction to the Mathematics of the Special Theory of Relativity (Applied Mathematical Sciences)
8.  The Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime: An Introduction to the Mathematics of the Special Theory of Relativity (Applied Mathematical Sciences) by Gregory L. Naber
The list author says:
  "[G, M] Rigorous, lucid math treatment of basic conceptual issues in ch 1 [99pp].  Then two chs on advanced topics incl. Spinors. Ch 1 superb for anyone who wants to understand the math foundations but  pricey for that purpose."
$69.95   Used & New from: $56.83
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Spacetime and Electromagnetism: An Essay on the Philosophy of the Special Theory of Relativity
9.  Spacetime and Electromagnetism: An Essay on the Philosophy of the Special Theory of Relativity by J. R. Lucas
The list author says:
  "[AUG] Provides nice discussion of various formal approaches to deriving the Lorentz transformations and more.  Excellent if you're interested in conceptual / foundational issues."
Used & New from: $1.54
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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gengogakusha "gengogakusha" (Tarrytown, NY USA)
Qualifications: life-long autodidact; retired research scientist
Last updated: 12/18/13
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