Since Christmas is getting near and many of you either enjoy pool or may be buying a gift for a pool player. I thought I'd give you favorite pool related books to help improve yourself or your competition.
A Mind for Pool: How to Master the Mental Game by Philip B. Capelle
This is a great analysis of the mental side of pool with lots of information on the competitive side of pool: how to gear up, dealing with slumps and streaks, etc. Just as important, Philip emphasizes that pool should be enjoyable, whatever one's manner of enjoyment might be, from very leisurely to ultra-serious. To sum it up, "There is so much to love about pool that it is simply foolish to waste any time on the negatives."
Play Your Best Pool by Philip B. Capelle
When I initially read it, I found some useful ideas but was disappointed that I didn't find more. A week after buying the book I entered played a big regional tournament. I didn't do as well as I would have liked but couldn't understand why. That night I went home and looked through this book again. Suddenly it was like a totally different book. After having played in the tournament I realized what this book really teaches you: How to think about pool and your playing. If you are into playing pool seriously, you need this book.
Byrne's New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards by Robert Byrne
Any serious pool player has read this book. It's informative, fun, gives you exercises to use that will improve your game. Thorough book, very easy to read, from the way you setup your stance to the way you hold your cue...this book has it all. It's also a great gift idea for that hard to buy person who (either occasionally or regularly) plays pool.
The 99 Critical Shots in Pool: Everything You Need to Know to Learn and Master the Game by Raymond Martin
Using a little imagination and three principles I learned a long time ago from the 99 Critical Shots, I was able to make a really slick shot, instead of playing a safety.
However, this is NOT a book of trick shots. It is a book of fundamental principles, many of which I doubt you can learn on your own (at least, I couldn't have). In fact, the book does an excellent job of emphasizing that pool is not about trick shots, but about controlling your position.
Pleasures of Small Motions: Mastering the Mental Game of Pocket Billiards by Robert T. Fancher
After you hone your basic shotmaking skills, pool is almost entirely a mental game. There are precious few books on the topic of the mental side of pool and billiards (I know of only three), and this is by far the best of them. The author is a sports psychologist (and pool player), and he explodes a lot of the "mental myths" of pool, including undoing some bad advice written by pool pros and wanna-be pros who meant well but didn't know what they were talking about psychologically speaking. The prose is also a nice read, especially for a nonfiction book. I can especially recommend this volume for intermediate players who are having a hard time dealing with league or tournament competition pressure. Fancher may give you some mental tools to quit being a "Count Choke-ula".
The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards by David G. Alciatore
I would say outright the easiest billiards book I have came across. It goes from the basics to the strong techniques. A step by step program to improve your game. My game has increased dramatically using the simple guidelines in this book.