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Before I ask the question: I've already looked at this one and don't feel that the answers cover mine.

Background: I "learned" the mathematics relevant to electronic engineering several decades ago. That is to say, I learned how to use the mathematics, but wasn't expected to prove the theorems, and I didn't work enough on it to do so. As a result, I spent a lot of time floundering around in differential equations. I've always regretted this, as I think I'd have enjoyed the maths more than the engineering if only I'd studied it properly. So now, I'm trying to learn mathematics properly, or at least some of the areas I'm interested in.

This means I'm not on a course but need suitable textbooks. Searching on Amazon and suchlike tends to bring up reviews of variable quality and opinions which depend very much on the personality or learning style of the reviewer, while I want recommendations that suit the way my mind learns things. Also there are pitfalls such as ending up with a very comprehensible book that uses antiquated terminology, so you understand the material but effectively in a "foreign language".

Is this site an appropriate place to ask for book recommendations, or perhaps opinions on a book I'm considering getting? My impression is that it would be off-topic (or at least borderline) on MSE, and that if I ask about this in their Meta they'll say they want questions about msths, not about books, and that book questions are opinion-based and therefore off-topic.

My questions are likely to be things like "I obviously need a much better understanding of vector calculus. What book might help specifically with that?" or "Do I need a more up-to-date book on analysis than this Kolmogorov one?"

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    $\begingroup$ Vote up this comment if you think that it is on-topic to ask for textbook recommendations for self study. $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Dec 10 '18 at 5:02
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    $\begingroup$ Vote up this comment if you think that it is not on-topic to ask for textbook recommendations for self study. $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Dec 10 '18 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. The number of views looks to be only 2 or 3 more than the number of times I've come back to check for responses. I think they're mostly me. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 12 '18 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ There are two separate issues. Is it allowed on this forum. Will you get good answers. (A) allowed: marginal, but maybe. (B) answers: you'll get something but not always that great. Fine to ask, but I would also try regular math site (if you can get away with it, maybe not). Also try Physics Forum. In addition, just searching for old threads will show you a lot. Finally, I would not despair of Amazon. Lot of good recs there if you learn to fish around (look at first few reviews, look at similar books, etc.) $\endgroup$ – guest Dec 17 '18 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ @guest Good point(s)! Thanks. I bought my Kolmogorov book on analysis Amazon after ploughing through the reviews for a few, and the interesting thing is that he never once uses the word injective, bijective or surjective, which seem to be universal today. A quick exchange on a site like this might have alerted me to the old terminology and pointed me to a more recent book. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 17 '18 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ @guest Also I keep forgetting that there will be textbooks in my city library,, which is a large one. So I could have a look there get a better idea of the content. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 17 '18 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, sure. Or it might have led you astray also. Have seen people recommend Spivak to engineering students struggling with calculus. It's like they don't even hear whole questions to include limits/attitudes/objectives of the questioners. But yes, you can definitely get some good scoop. Just stay vigilant about weighing things. $\endgroup$ – guest Dec 17 '18 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ Uh....yeah. It should not be rocket science to you, to walk the shelf and look at some things. Will definitely help save you some grief. You just learn so much more, so much faster, by actually skimming something on a shelf. Can see if the language is antiquated or elaborate (some old books are, some are NOT. Will show you if the answers are included (key, key, key factor for a self learner). $\endgroup$ – guest Dec 17 '18 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @guest I think the rocket science part might be in reactivating my membership, actually . . . (I don't still meet the geographical criteria I needed for joining.) $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 17 '18 at 19:50
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What I said on Books and materials recommendations basically also applies here.

In my opinion we should welcome focused and specific requests for suggestion of books and related resource.

By contrast, question that solicit nothing more than a search for the obvious terms in a catalogue would yield, should be put on hold until made more focused.

That it is for self-study makes it perhaps somewhat marginal, yet then it was agreed upon that self-learners can ask about subjects pertinent to self-learning.

I'd say just give it a try, one question at a time.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for that. It's roughly what I thought: ask about books if I need to, but in a way which is relevant and specific. Regarding self-study: I think self-study is also self-teaching, and requires the effort to become a good teacher, even though one is also the student: for example, knowing what kind of exercises to give a student (oneself!) who's struggling with a particular issue. It's still necessary to avoid bad teaching when the person being taught is yourself—so maybe that makes it a bit less marginal. $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 17 '18 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, don't worry about it. In the phase of the conception of the site, it was established at length that self-learning/teaching is on-topic. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 17 '18 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! (I've not marked the answer as accepted yet because I don't want to discourage further answers.) $\endgroup$ – timtfj Dec 17 '18 at 17:12

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