The list author says: "The road to chess improvement lies in the study of quality books by great chess authors of the past and present.
The list present here is somewhat incremental in that the easier introduction books are at the start of the list while more advanced books are further down. Some are optional for those who are interested or need further study in the given the given aspect.
I purposely avoid recommending opening books, especially those that deal with specific variation X written by grandmaster Y, not because they are bad, many are quite good, but because my choice of openings may not be your choice. Also all opening books will be out of date before the ink dries on the presses. I do give some pointers on how develop ones opening repertoire and some general works to help in that regard. I can recommend the after you do your own research on what you like to play, the "Starting Out..." series might be a good fit to fill in more information on those openings. [Please don't complain that Starting Out: the Fried Liver Attack (eg.) is out the date; I have warned you already.]
The common thread in this list is the constant need for tactical drills at all levels. An understanding of strategy is worthwhile but without sound basis of tactical skills, your great strategic planning will be lost in the battle of the moment.
If you are jumping with some reasonable experience you may want to start with "Chess Exam And Training Guide: Rate Yourself And Learn How To Improve" by Igor Khmelnitsky and work on those weak areas that you uncover.
The list has been updated with recent reprints and substitute volumes that are more readily available, sadly some books are still in need of reprinting. (March, 2010)"
"This replaces, "Bobby Fischer" book. I found this to be an equal or better introduction into the tactics of chess. This books gets you thinking in terms of the chess pieces are capable of doing in tactical terms. A good knowledge of tactics is vital to survival."
"Learn those basic mating patterns. Great little book on the history of chess; gives a little bio for each player referenced. This is a reprint of the original english descriptive edition: ISBN#0486201066. In the reviews, one person complained because when he ordered it, he got the previous edition instead on the new algebraic edition."
"This book may take you all the way to master. Read from cover to cover however don't take the opening section too seriously, opening theory has changed much since his time. The book is from one of the greatest writer of all time in chess and philosophy; he has much to say. (New edition)"
"This is a great survey book that will let you explore what openings may be of interest to you. As a beginner you should not attempt to become an expert on any one opening but try various setups until you find one that you feel comfortable with before exploring it more deeply. See note below on Modern Chess Openings."
"Great games by a great grandmaster with many modern ideas. By now you should know the routine: pick a game, analyze, analyze, analyze... This newer edition is out of print and hard to find. However the older Dover editions are still available but are in the original descriptive notation, otherwise try the next volume listed."
"This is a follow up to "My System". He annotates his games and are portrayed in order of stratagems listed in his previous work. You may want to get both at the same time and read the second along with the first for more examples of topic discussed in "My System""
"This is the correct way to study openings as explained by Suetin, in chronological order, learn through the test of time as new ideas are discovered and tested. Dover: Please reprint this one soon in algebraic!"
"Timman is one of the best analyst in the game. In this volume he shows the minor pieces at their best. The two bishops do hold sway in most cases but you have to check out Psakhis-Speelman, where two knights kick proverbial butt out of a pair of hapless bishops."
"Jacob Aagaard is one of the best writer of the modern day. In this volume he uses his own work on improvement and how the reader might follow. He also gets into a "philosophical" dog fight with John Watson over his book "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", which spilled out onto various chess websites. Interesting reading non the less."
"This book is not that advanced however it presents fresh thinking into tactics and the concept of "threats". Some of the positions are truly amazing. This edition is a reprint, and some have complained about the typography, however the material is still just as good. (New Edition)"
"An advanced work dealing with what separates the chess grandmaster from the world championship caliber. It is a selection of games that are decided in the endgame in grand fashion. Use it to improve your endgame and analysis skills; its not an easy book (the analysis is dense) but well worth the effort."