Books available to you to help you learn calculus can be one of your best resources when you are trying to learn new math. However, not all calculus books are very helpful. If you choose the wrong book, you might find that it makes things even more confusing than they already were. So I thought I would help you avoid that.
Of course, simply buying a book on this list alone won’t get you an A+ in calculus. You’ll need to put in the work of reading the explanations and doing the problems and exercises in the book. The most important part to learning calculus is practicing the concepts by completing problems. So an important part to any calculus book or textbook is the collection of practice problems included in the textbook.
Here are some of the best books to use as a resource to help you learn calculus and get an A+. I have also included some of the more popular calculus textbooks on this list to provide a bit more information as well as my input about the books.
I hear this complaint all the time:
The textbook for my calculus class is so confusing.
Or, why do they have to explain everything so technically in this textbook? It makes no sense.
It’s actually kinda crazy when you think about it. Why do people write textbooks for people that are trying to learn something and make it so much more complicated than it needs to be?
Why write a book intended for someone with no background knowledge on the topic, then explain it in terms that only professors and math majors can make sense of?
I think it’s pretty silly.
And I’m guessing you’ve had a similar thought before too.
If the textbook is meant for someone who doesn’t already know the subject, shouldn’t it be written in a way that’s easy to understand?
So you can get that basic understanding down first. Then once you have that down, you can worry about all the technical terminology.
I’ve always thought that makes so much more sense.
But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work out that way all the time.
It seems like a lot of the textbooks used in calculus classes talk about these topics in terms that are so confusing. And being a student in the class, you’re expected to understand it.
And complete more problems based on these confusing explanations.
Sometimes it feels like it makes the textbook unusable. Have you ever felt that?
I’ve had that thought before.
Which is why I’m a huge fan of a more relaxed, informal approach. At least your first time seeing a given calculus topic.
And I’m not trying to say this technical approach is useless. I think it’s really important for truly understanding any math topic.
But when it’s the first exposure you’ve had to the topic it can be confusing. And it can create a barrier that you have to get over before you can really learn the material.
Which is why I was so excited when I found The Calculus Lifesaver by Adrian Banner.
This book is a perfect companion to go with a college or high school calculus textbook.
It’s very affordable, priced UNDER $20 on Amazon, so you won’t need to spend a couple hundred bucks on another book when you already had to buy a super expensive textbook.
And this book is great because it takes a very casual approach. It isn’t so technical and confusing.
It’s the perfect bridge to get you from being new to calculus to understanding the complex explanations in the textbook that you’ve already had to buy.
For example, at one point in this book, Banner writes, “perhaps you’d like to say that f(2)=1, but that would be a load of bull since 2 isn’t even in the domain of f.”
That’s just one example that illustrates the casual approach Banner takes in The Calculus Lifesaver.
I’m a huge fan of this because he writes this book like people actually talk. It’s not written like a robot or someone super formal.
It’s written in a way that makes sense.
A way that someone new to calculus can actually read and understand.
And it covers topics in calculus 1, 2, and 3 so you can really get some mileage out of this one if you need to take a few calc classes.
This is easily my favorite book I’ve read about calculus. Calculus by Michael Spivak is the best resource I’ve found to explain the “why” of calculus, rather than only focusing on the “how.” I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that wants to continue their academic math career beyond just the calculus or business calc class required by their school.
This calculus textbook spends a lot of time and energy discussing the proofs and analysis of the topics that are taught in most calculus courses. These explanations are in depth, thorough, and help to give context to many of the methods taught in calculus courses. However, this is likely not the best calculus textbook for you if you are taking the introductory calculus 1 course required at your school. The reason I say this is that many of the explanations and exercises in this text are based around proving concepts that an introductory calculus 1 course would only require you to know how to apply.
If you are studying calculus on your own, or looking to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts taught in your calculus class, this book is a MUST READ. One thing that always stands out in my mind about this book is its explanation of limits. I have never seen another source that explains what limits really mean and the mathematical proof behind any limit you run into as well as this book does.
This is a popular textbook required for calculus classes in high school and college. Single Variable Calculus: Concepts and Contexts is a solid resource for anyone trying to learn calculus 1, 2, or 3. It covers a wide range of calculus topics including limits, derivatives, integrals, sequences, series, and even some differential equations. This calculus textbook contains detailed explanations of necessary concepts and many examples to demonstrate the common topics covered in calculus courses. Although, I will admit that there are many types of problems included in the exercises at the end of each chapter that are not explained or covered earlier in the chapter, leaving you guessing or looking elsewhere for solutions to similar problems.
However, I think that James Stewart’s textbook does include a useful collection of problems throughout all of the chapters. He does provide plenty of opportunity for you to practice the concepts discussed in this text. As a result, I think that this book is an above average resource to gain an understanding of calculus concepts and a great resource if you are looking for extra problems to use as practice and hone your calculus skills. In fact, I use this book to get a lot of ideas for problems I solve on my website and YouTube channel!
* DISCLAIMER: Links on this page may be affiliate links meaning I would get a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you. All opinions in this article are 100% my own and I just want to let you know what I think about the products listed here. *