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The book I used in college, and still use when needed, is A First Course in Differential Equations, by Dennis Zill. It's very clearly written with tons of problems and examples.

The book Mathematics From the Birth of Numbers, by Jan Gullberg, is a cool book in general and also has a short and sweet introduction to ordinary differential equations (ODEs) at the end. He derives the general theories of ODEs pretty much entirely through the use of applications.

Gradshteyn and Ryzhik's Table of Integrals, Series, and Products, which is a must-own book for mathematicians and scientists anyways, also has a rather short, but surprisingly detailed section on ODEs toward the end. I wouldn't recommend this for a novice, but it's a great reference to have once you've become familiar with differential equations.

Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, by Mary Boas, is a classic text covering many topics, including ODEs and PDEs (partial differential equations). I'd get this book simply for the immense amount of very useful topics it introduces in all the fields of mathematics, including the calculus of variations, tensor analysis, and functional analysis.

Eventually, you'll need or want to learn about PDEs, and the most intuitive and comprehensible book I've seen regarding them is Partial Differential Equations for Scientists and Engineers, by Stanley Farlow. It's almost (if such a thing can be said about a rigorous math book) entertaining.

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Q: What are good books on differential equations for novices?
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