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In the beginning man created computers and software.
And the software was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the programmer.
And Kernighan and Ritchie said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Although biblical references are somewhat cliché when speaking of this book, the temptation is just impossible to resist: I consider the K&R to be the single most valuable book in my library. It may not be the most effective single reference for learning C (though it will do in a pinch), but used in tandem with a more contemporary text it will impart a strong understanding of the C language and procedural programming in general. In my first Computer Science class I often found myself turning to the K&R for a clear, concise, and logical explanation of concepts that my CS textbook did a poor job of explaining.
Furthermore, this book is a beautiful illustration of the principle of elegance in simplicity. From the way it uses only as many words as are necessary to illuminate a topic, to the way it presents simple solutions to problems and combines those simple solutions to solve more complex problems, to the way the code is written in a manner that is concise and easy to follow, this book serves as a model for good software engineering.
I highly recommend for anyone who does a significant amount of programming to spend some time with this book.