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I am trying to learn a little basic mathematics by myself with help from a few books and this site. So far I have read 3 excellent books: Algebra, Trigonometry and Method of Coordinates by Gelfand et al. Since finishing them I am left wondering what to try reading next.

What I liked about these books is that they combined clear explanation with challenging problems. Perhaps it was the influence of a great mathematician like Gelfand which resulted in real passion and love for the subject shining through. They were definitely not dry or boring. They were slim volumes, not phone directories. Best of all I felt I learnt and understood something, and was not memorising 'recipes', which was how I remember maths from school.

I would like to learn some basic calculus. Many years ago I was taught this at school, with the emphasis on rote learning a few 'rules' to pass an exam. I would like to understand calculus this time. I think I need to learn something about limits first.

Can anyone recommend any fairly basic to intermediate books about limits and calculus which are in the same style as the Gelfand books? That is which really emphasise understanding, as my exam taking days are long gone.

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Spivak's Calculus is great. May be a bit challenging at times but you will really learn calculus.

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    $\begingroup$ I thought Gelfand's Trigonometry was great . "The Hitchhikers Guide To Calculus" by Michael Spivak might be a good review of what you know from previous studies, and also might ease the conceptual area. Spivak's Calculus and Hitchhiker's Guide are very different animals and you need a primary text. $\endgroup$ – Alan Dec 7 '13 at 23:19

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