Okay - I know I'm holding THREE books up, but they're all about the same person: Man Ray.
After seeing Man Ray's photographic work in the Art Institute of Chicago and feeling really inspired, I immediately bought a book in the gift shop, which is the Taschen book in the front of the bunch that I'm holding. I got my hands on several books about his involvement in Dada and Surrealism shortly thereafter.
I was in college at the time I discovered him, going to school for photography. Those were still the days of the darkroom. The images I had in these books prepared for classic photographic college assignments. I thought about each of my images' journey; I documented each click's F stop, speed, made notes about the location and/or subject, thought about contrast, shadow, and in those same moments, planned what I would do in the darkroom with the little time I had scheduled there. This all seems like common sense for a photography student, but I became obsessed with wanting to make my images as iconic as my many heroes. I took my camera everywhere and documented almost everything for years.
Outside of the Taschen book which is primarily photographs, the second and third books I am holding up (Man Ray's Montparnasse and Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention) delve into his time in Paris and give you a timeline of his life, respectively. I love surrealist era work and the people involved, and these books capture different events of that time.
I don't photograph much anymore, but there are gifts he's left in my thought process when I pick up an actual camera.