Hello Ben

Two books that spring to mind in both the general and the technical field:

In Our Time by Magnum. Very good photographers, all different but united in their belief that it is possible to hold your own in a world that takes photography for granted.

World Photography by Bryn Campbell. Focusses on photographers with very different backgrounds and gives good insight in what makes them tick.

Unreasonable Behaviour. autobiography of Don McCullin, war photographer. War and the pity of war.

B&W Photography by Les MacLean. Because of the the uncomplicated yet profound approach to the technical side of BW printing and developing. I like his easy conversational tone.

Master Printing Course by Tim Rudman. Straightforward. Makes you wonder why all the guys at the local camera club are so cagey about technique.