I'm writing a program that needs to be able to simulate a system of elastic bodies, that can collide with each other and with other rigid bodies, and deform accordingly. I think it would be an instructive exercise to write the code myself, rather than copy an existing physics engine, so I want to start by learning a little bit about how elastic bodies behave at a molecular level.
I was thinking about building my virtual elastic bodies as systems of "nodes", each with a certain mass, interconnected by springs. But I have no idea if that resembles the way molecules in a semisolid interact with each other.
Can anybody recommend a book or other resource, or at least a subject to get started probing into? Bear in mind that my program doesn't need to be highly accurate, and the extent of my physics knowledge is basically a fuzzy memory from high school.