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"Chess is ludicrously difficult" Stephen Fry

"Chess is not a game but a disease" Sir Henry Campell-Bannerman

"Chess is a beautiful mistress" Bent Larsen

"Chess is life in miniature. Chess is struggle, chess is battle" Gary Kasparov

"Chess is first of all art" Mikhail Tal

"Chess is beautiful enough to waste your life for" Hans Ree

"Chess is the most intellectual game in the universe" David Norwood

"Chess is imagination" David Bronstein

"Chess is an international language" Edward Lasker

"Chess is life" Bobby Fischer

Chess books are just one way a person learns to play. Of course there is no substitute for being slaughtered over the board at the local chess club and learning from one's mistakes so as never to make them again.

Shopping for books isn't always easy. It's easy to be intimidated by pages of endless notation that, if you stare long enough, begin to look more like ancient heiroglyphics than something we can use to improve our chess. I like books that are nice and simple. It's even better if you can find one that you can follow without sitting in front of a chessboard pushing pieces around. In the end, like anything else, it boils down to a matter of personal taste.

Chess books that have upgraded my skill from "amateur" to "master amateur"

Play Winning Chess by Yasser Seirawan and Jeremy Silman
Winning Chess Tactics by ibid
Winning Chess Strategies by ibid
The Middlegame in Chess by Reuben Fine
The Ideas Behind Chess Openings by Reuben Fine
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by Bobby Fischer
Elements of Positional Evaluations by Dan Heisman
How Not to Play Chess by Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky
Chess for Dummies by James Eade
My System by Aron Nimzovich (my personal favorite!)
1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations by Fred Reinfeld
Best Lessons of a Chess Coach by Sunil Weeramantry
An Active Repertoire For Black by Drazen Marovic
Common Sense in Chess by Emmanuel Lasker