Collecting the best books mentioned on hacker news, reddit and other places
I've seen multiple people mention the GoF's Design Patterns book. This is well known and worth several reads through; it will take multiple passes to grok all of it.
There are several other books that have tried to explain the GoF's Design Patterns in either an easier to approach manner, or in the context of a specific language they have tried to explain where new design patterns have emerged or the original patterns had mutated.
A couple of those worth checking out are
"Head First Design Patterns"
"Design Patterns In Ruby"
Among the books "programmers have read", I have read K&R, Programming Pearls and bits and pieces of Effective Java and C++. I thoroughly enjoyed these books.
The other books on the "have read" list are on my "don't bother reading" list. Code Complete, Pragmatic Programmer, Mythical Man Month et al aren't my kind of books. As far as design patterns go, I believe if you code in Python/Ruby/Perl etc, books covering them in Java/C++ are needlessly verbose and boring. I recommend Alex Martelli's talks
And this book which covers design patterns using Ruby.
Both approaches actually show you practical examples of design patterns in the standard library or real world problems, and shuns patterns which aren't applicable to the language or are too trivial. These talks aren't the end-all, but they will give you a good overall knowledge, and will make further exploration easy.
And from the "haven't read" list, CLRS is a good book and isn't as dense as it is generally taken to be. It does have sections on proofs, but you can skip it and jump directly to the data structure/algorithm. The pseudo code used in the book is extremely clear, and will convert to simple python in most of the cases. Use it as a reference, or read first few hundred pages. If the book isn't for you, you will know it after you have read the first 100 pages.
Another book I recommend is Sedgewick's book on Algorithms. I have read the C version. It mostly covers basic data structures and some accompanying algorithms. The code is succinct(sometimes needlessly so) and more importantly, it works. It doesn't sit well with everyone, but I liked it - it helps me see the whole picture without bombarding me with a lot of code.
Skiena is another obvious favorite.
Dragon book is decent, but you need guidance and discipline to make anything out of it. Consult your peers or teachers while using the book, or use another book.
I haven't read TAOCP and it's low on my list for now. I have read bits and pieces and I didn't find it as fascinating as I had hoped. It's dense and extensive, and can be used as reference.
"Effective C++" will be a better alternative to "The C++ programming language". But I must say, when I first read "The C++ programming language", I found it fascinating - lengthy, but fascinating. That would be mainly because I was beginning programming when I first read it.
The Rails Way is pretty good.
I've found the peepcode webcasts worth their weight in gold, but that's not a book =)
And I found Design Patterns in Ruby pretty good for Ruby beginners