on 3 April 2011
The Manchester Physics Series contains a collection of books covering the core theory necessary for an undergraduate degree in physics. The topics range from the ever popular Statistical Physics (Mandl), Quantum Mechanics (Mandl) and Electromagnetism (Grant/Phillips) - there are plenty more.
Hook and Hall is the text dealing with condensed matter physics, that is, the physics of solids, crystals, magnetic materials and so on. It is self contained and is a recommended textbook for most solid state physics courses that I've come across. I personally have used/am using it for the "Electrons and Solids" and "Crystal Physics" courses at Warwick University. While I effectively had to buy this for the Electrons course, as we were recommended chapters to read, I don't regret my purchase.
In fairly standard fashion, H&H start by building up the foundations of crystallography, the idea of the lattice and structures. This lasts for a couple of chapters before the real meat of the book is presented, starting with the free electron model, nearly-free electron model, tight binding, band theory, semiconductors, magnetism, superconductivity (I haven't read), crystal dynamics, scattering (more crystallography here), 'real' metals and low dimensional systems. The ordering is logical and most chapters follow on from the previous, and a useful flow diagram on the back cover indicates which chapters are pre-requisites (a nice touch). The book was designed, and succeeds, as a single-text reference. You will be able to survive most introductory solid state physics courses with this.
The writing style is friendly and not at all terse, while still remaining relevant. Unlike some textbooks, there is little waffle - H&H get to the point, make it obvious and then move on. The problems are of a fair difficulty level and are certainly doable if you've read the chapter. There is often reference to "real life" in the theory so you can see how it is relevant. Suffice to say you need a working knowledge of calculus, vector algebra (not much on matrices, however) and a first or second year level knowledge of quantum mechanics would be useful for some parts (though not a pre-requisite).
As with all textbooks, it is not exhuastive and you are of course pointed to Ashcroft and Mermin for more Biblical work. However, supported by Kittel and, if you're interested in crystals, Dove (Structure and Dynamics). H&H is an excellent textbook and is also very affordable compared to some of the classics. If you need a solid state physics book that isn't opaque (it's also fairly lightweight and easily travels to campus with me), you can't go wrong with this one.