I recently had a question closed due to a bad fit for Q&A
How does one request book recommendations for formal treatments of subject matter?
migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 26 '11 at 3:50
This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.
I don't know that you can.
What's to say a good book today is a good book tomorrow? Or the next day, or the next day? In 2007, The "ASP.NET tips and Tricks book" (that Jeff Atwood and others published) was a great ASP.NET book, but today, there could be better choices.
So that's one problem.
Secondly, it's somewhat subjective. There's no real 'fact' here. I may think Fooing widgets, 3rd edition is the BESTEST EVAR. You may think the 2nd edition of 'Baring Foos' is awesome-sauce. Either way, what happens when the OP picks one or the other? It's all opinion.
That's problem #2.
Finally, the answers could go on forever. There are 2,948 titles on Amazon for books about C# (according to an Amazon search on books for... wait for it... C#), so you could conceivably have 2,948 answers on the 'best book for C#'. Who's to say that one book is better than the others?
If you want a book recommendation, look at blogs or Amazon reviews. Stack Exchange is not the place for it.
You can ask for recommendations in chat!
Your best bet is to first see if anyone has created a chat room for what you're looking for and then if not, create a new chat room first, something like Recommend me some books. Then stay in your room, and possibly draw some people in from active rooms (like the tavern, the lounge, casual chat) with a polite, discrete post, something like:
Remember that while chat is realtime it's also archived, has RSS feeds, and can act like a forum as well. So You can create a chat room and as long as you keep it active, you can return to it days later and see what was said when you were gone. So you don't have to worry about missing any recommendations.
FYI, This is what what Jeff Atwood himself did when he wanted recommendations for a new router.
Do not ask about shopping recommendations on the main site. They will be closed. It is offtopic.
I started out believing that SE could support a recommend X, or Suggestions for a Building Architecture Book covering the User Experience Perspective style request, but after reading this and several of the linked questions, I have to conclude that the SE framework fails in this regard.
The reason I find the idea of such questions compelling, is my perception that there is a set of relevant canon for many fields. If you are in medicine then you've likely at least heard of Gray's Anatomy, the original, not the other one. In Architecture, then The Timeless Way of Building is something you've likely bumped into. This plays out across the majority of subjects I come across. The more I read about a field, the more material I see that references some subset of what came before. We even have the seminal work of Cyberpunk.
But canon is ultimately an illusion. Only this moment I learned of Bruce Bethke. No matter what I, nor even my group of wildly diverse and widely read friends have encountered and consider to be canon, and no matter how long ago a work was published or even how many times it has been referenced, someone could reasonably argue that the canon of X was merely founded on some W that came before. History has deep roots.
Additionally new books get written, this is not a problem only of having to add it to the list or even superseding the strengths of the existing works though. This means that canon changes. I'd easily add, as suggested in the ux.se question, How Buildings Learn to the list in the Architecture category. But why choose that one and not The Not So Big House? So now in answering these questions I have to consider when and where I should stop. Do I only include the first work I read on a subject? Should I include the possibly relevant books from the appendix of works I trust? What if a book in a completely unrelated field jogged some fundamental understanding in me but maybe not the next guy?* How do I answer if the book I consider definitive on subject X does not even acknowledge the existence of some concept Y that the OP mentioned?
To add to @GeorgeStocker's point about a good book today but maybe not tomorrow, it gets worse than just better material being in print. What happens when the 333rd edition of How to Win Friends and Influence People devotes 90% of its pages to how to use Facebook to pickup dates? What happens when the book I, or even the majority of the community, remember(s) is not the book being published when the next user clicks to see the Bestest of the Best of the Best reads on Underwater Basket Weaving?
In the end these questions can only ever be considered subjective, and therefore not a good fit for the SE format.
*See A Pattern Language for an Architecture book that made a significant impact on Software Engineering and to an extent Computer Science.
For other items, you can ask about features and specific scenarios to solicits facts to help you form your own opinion.
Instead of asking "Which sander should I buy?", you can ask What's the significance of orbit diameter in a random orbit sander?. Instead of asking "Which backpack should I buy?", you can ask What is the difference between external and internal-frame packs?
I can't see how you could do anything equivalent for books though. In the end it would still be a poll of peoples' opinions. Honestly the best thing to do would be search on Amazon and read the reviews.