highly recommends a crochet book you have to sit up and take notice. i found one online for a very reasonable price (if you're trying to track down an affordable copy don't despair!) and snapped it up. i haven't yet had a chance to settle down for a proper read, but i love that it gives you the real nitty-gritty knowledge that informs a real understanding of the structure of a crochet piece.
i love vintage craft books, i love having a less-well-known source of inspiration. that's not saying that following a project word for word from a book no-one's heard of has any greater merit than doing the same from stitch n bitch or knitty (and not knocking that, particularly as a way to pick up new skills, or as simple relaxation). but it offers an alternative aesthetic, as well as techniques that may have been overlooked by modern authors.
i was pretty excited when i heard via inaminuteago that a 1912 embroidery manual - embroidery and tapestry weaving by grace christie - had been added to the guttenberg project. and oh how disappointed i was when i realised that guttenberg doesn't support illustrations. i mean how much use is that? i'm not a particularly visual learner, i like words (in case you hadn't guessed :D), but really, an embroidery manual without pictures? :?
i've also been browsing the art&design books on ebay and have found a few crackers, though they'll have to wait for payday. i feel that going back to original sources like this forces creativity - the work isn't done for you, you have to translate your inspiration into whichever medium you're working. it's reawakened my interest in acquiring a more systematic art education rather than the bits i've picked up piecemeal over the years. i still have half a shelf-full of art history books on extended loan that haven't been read and are due back soon, so i'm going to try to work my way through them. now i just have to stop myself falling asleep in the middle of the greek classical period...