I think it would be a little melodramatic to say that Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke changed my life, but it's not that far from the truth. I bought the electronic version of the book on the day it came out from Five Simple Steps and raced through it. Something about the "no compromise" approach really resonated with me, and I became very excited about my work again. I was hungry to try new things and work even harder than before.
The worked examples of the various bits of HTML5 and CSS3 look beautiful (which I find is not always the case in web design books), but what really go me going was Part 1 of the book: the day to day practicalities, how do you sell this to clients, and so on.
I bought the paperback a short while after, and I'm glad I did: it's a thing of beauty and a weighty tome forever. I find that paper books have a stronger visual memory hook for me. I find them easier to dive back into and flick through to find a particular technique or idea that I want to revisit.
This list from the end of the Workshop page sums up the Hardboiled approach quite nicely:
At the end of the day, you’ll understand
- Why web browsers don’t limit your creativity
- That websites shouldn’t look, or be experienced the same in every browser
- How to handle older, less capable browsers
- That browser differences are creative and business opportunities, not obstacles
A parting aside: Five Simple Steps has a small but strong catalogue and is well worth perusing. I'm particularly fond of Brian Suda's Designing with Data. It tickles all my minimalism muscles, and he's pleasingly rude about Chart Junk.