[ Publications ]
[ Blog ]
This is an ever-expanding list of information texts that I have read, reviewed, own and generally use in my teaching and research. Current contents are expanding all the time as I update this list, but it should serve as a useful overview of books that are out there for you to read. It started life as an HCI list when I regularly taught interaction courses but I've decided to update it after a lengthy hiatus so it's going to take on a broader coverage going forward. I hasten to add, these are just my opinions (sometimes informed by the comments of the students I make read these books)!
Baecker, R., Buxton, W. (eds, 1987) Readings in human-computer interaction: A multidisciplinary approach. Los Altos: Morgan Kaufmann.
A well-thought out introduction to the field that manages to convey the diversity and the challenges of information science in a fresh manner. Covers the emergence of the field of enquiry, domain analysis, organization and management of information, user behavior and informetrics clearly and coherently. Currently the best single-volume introduction that I use for those who want to see beyond collection agencies.
Booth, P. (1989) An Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Nice chatty text that places the central issues of HCI within a readable, non-technical framework. It asks the right questions and offers some of the right answers, thus passing with honors the "why was this published" test! Is part philosophy, part design guidance (as a process) and part polemic - a good mix.
An interesting, if slightly dated, book of guidelines from a knowledgeable HCI designer at Xerox. The book has little by way of padding but gets straight down to the business of describing the use of color, wording, graphics, etc. and the basic principles of good dialogue design. Where possible the author provides references to experimental evidence supporting the principle under discussion, though he freely admits that sometimes guidelines are based on practical experience rather than hard and fast evidence, such is the life of a HCI designer. What is interesting from this collection is how timeless some of the guidelines are. Even though interfaces have moved on slightly from 1989, and some people seem to think that the emergence of the Web means all we knew before is suddenly of no relevance, this volume could be usefully read by most web designers today.
Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. (2000) The Social Life of Information, Harvard: HBS Press
Something of a classic in the general information futures literature, this book is one I've pointed lots of students at over the last decade to get a sense of how we can think more broadly about information studies than just the examination of technology-induced change. Book received many positive published reviews though many of my students were less enamoured with the style and content. Beginning to show its age now though it remains a foundational text.
Card, S., Moran, T. and Newell, A. (1983) The Psychology of HCI Hillsdale NJ: LEA
This is probably the most cited book in HCI and it assumes classic status as much for the reaction to its contents by many in the HCI community as for the practical influence it has had. This text introduced the world to GOMS, an engineering style form of task analysis and interface evaluation method. The book draws together a century of experimental research results on perception, decision-making, reaction times, and skilled performance to produce a simplified model of the human information processor that can adequately support the derivation of accurate estimates of the time it will take a use to perform a task with a given interface. Generations of students have either fallen in love with its simple elegance, or (more often than not) quaked in fear that the first sight of the mathematical formulae in the opening chapters. What has unfortunately been overlooked by most, is the philosophical thrust of the book and the desire of the authors to provide strong predictive power to HCI models. Even now, this book is essential reading for the HCI novice, and GOMS lives on in the work of others.
Carroll, J. (ed.) (1991) Designing Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This is an edited collection that serves as one of the best introductions to theoretical perspectives on HCI that are not model-based. Indeed the book has a sense of polemic in it that springs from the editor and authors desires to widen our conceptualization of interaction from quantitative models of effective use towards a concern with worker satisfaction, the impact of theory on design practice, the nature of use, and the incorporation of more social analyses on computer design. The book has been very influential in that it provides us with the term 'cognitive artifact' and contains a wonderful anti-theoretical blast from Tom Landauer - a chapter that has been misquoted to me in term papers more than any other :) This book really shows no real sign of aging (though some of the later chapters do drone on a bit) and is as worthwhile now as it was in 1991. A gem.
Carroll, J. (ed) (1998) Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel. Cambridge: MIT Press.
The present volume is best seen as an update and companion volume to Carroll's (1990) The Nurnberg Funnel. It contains 15 chapters by 13 authors which extend Carroll's initial concept of Minimalism into considerations of its application in software documentation design and training on the practical side, and into the emergence of supporting structures for conceiving minimalistic interventions on the theoretical side. Minimalism is defined as an action- and task-based approach to instruction that emphasizes the importance of realistic activities and experiences for effective learning. Is there anything new here that has not been described before in different words in a hundred books on education? Well, yes and no. It is clear that many of the basic tenets of minimalism are derivative (e.g., the principle of using real tasks for instructional activities, or the heuristic of encouraging and supporting exploration and innovation in learners) but this is unavoidable. Our knowledge of human learning is remarkably limited given the funding and publication rates of education theorists and schools. What is special about the minimalist approach is that it applies its simplification process to itself. The theoretical underpinnings seem sound, based less on the traditional logical decomposition of tasks common to much 20th Century learning theory, but on the search for core cognitive and behavioral dispositions in learners that can best be supported through interventions. Meaningful human learning once again becomes a mainstream psychological concern - and about time too!
Casey, S. (1993) Set phasers on stun --- And other true tales of design, technology and human error. Santa Barbara: Aegean Publishing Company
Now reaching its second edition, this is a book that is deceptive. It's not technical, it is enjoyable to read, and it actually has some interesting insights for HCI folks - a deadly (and rare) combination.
Ok, this is my book so I am biased. It is intended to give a detailed overview of the human factors involved in using electronic or digital documents, from the perceptual to the socio-cognitive. It provides a framework for design and evaluation as well as substantial reviews of empirical findings and the problems of using them in the design process. Don't believe me though, check it out reviewers' comments here: http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~adillon/BookSynopses/Designing.html
Dyer H. with Morris, A. (1990) Human Aspects of Library Automation Aldershot: Gower.
This is a wonderful book about the process of user-centered design and implementation of information technology in organizations. Written in a style that is readable, Eason draws on years of experience to provide anecdotal insights as well as empirical findings to demonstrate that the dynamics of system design and user acceptance are complex and multidimensional. The book avoids the trendy allusions to 'other methods' that are so common in organizational analyses these days and remains valid as a HCI text almost 10 years after publication.
The first, though hardly the last, book that tries to apply the scientific findings of HCI to web design. Multiple chapters by a mixed group of authors vary in quality, but the intention is good. Not as definitive as its 1980s model by Gardiner and Christie in the area of cognition and general interface design, but it is a huge step beyond the normal 'how-to' style of many web design books. Pity they had to spell my name wrong though.
Gardiner, M., Christie, B. (eds, 1987) Applying cognitive psychology to user-interface design. Chichester:Wiley
This text makes one of the first real attempts to marshal the literature on cognitive psychology and use it to derive a detailed set of guidelines for HCI. As such it is very insightful, both as a reader in cognitive psychology for those who are new to the field, and as a demonstration of just how difficult it can be to make the leap from experimental finding to interface recommendation. This remains as worthy text and I'd enjoy seeing a new edition sometime soon to accommodate developments in interface design since the mid-80s.
Gray, S. (1993) Hypertext and the Technology of Conversation: Orderly Situational Choice: Greenwood
The present volume is an extended analysis of the use people make of hypertext information. In particular it is a study of how novice users of hypertext technology actually react when faced with a hypertext information resource and are asked to find information. Seen through the interpretative lens of conversation analysis, the author advances the argument that, sociological perspectives on meaning construction and the analysis of the sense that users try to make of their interaction with the device, is likely to be useful for guiding our designs of interactive technologies. She contrasts this approach with what she casts as the traditional evaluation approach of the HCI community, that of error counting and retrieval speed. The general approach leans heavily on the work of Suchman, but one gets the feeling of being given a lesson in ethnomethodological analysis for its own sake. While this might be useful for those new to evaluation, or students considering this as an area of inquiry, a cynic might conclude that the methods described here tend more towards endless interpretation than substantive insight.
While the title of the book may immediately turn off a large number of male readers (presumably the largest consumers of technology books), it would be totally misleading to react to this text with masculinist dismissal. More than the title suggests, this book contains many a sharp analysis of the politics of system design, not purely in gender terms but in broader sociological and historical ones. Major emphasis is placed on the manner in which technological developments represent an extension of scientific perspectives on work, here seen as short-sighted and yes, male-centered. While this leaves much room for argument, the statistics and examples included show that beyond doubt, information technology and the social systems in which it finds use and meaning, demand more than analysis at the traditional ergonomics levels of cognition and physiology to ensure acceptability. The present volume would make an interesting addition to many courses on systems design and HCI, and one can relish the prospects of lively discourse it would engender in a graduate class in human factors. The authors are uniformly insightful and the editors have done a useful job in drawing the various strands together. I lent my copy to a student and it never came back - says something.
Guindon, R. (ed.) (1988) Cognitive Science and its Applications for Human-Computer Interaction. Hillsdale NJ: LEA.
This book sounds like a great idea but is a little disappointing in execution. There are seven chapters here by some well known (and some not-so-well known) cognitive scientists. While cognitive science provides in many senses a fundamental theoretical rock of HCI, it is hard to shake the feeling from this collection that the bridge between theory and application is fairly shakey. There are some missed opportunities here. The most obvious example of GOMS is invoked in Polson's chapter on interface consistency, but none of the chapters cover the relationship of learning theory to design of multimedia for example or the application of cognitive techniques such as verbal protocol analysis to the design of cognitively compatible interfaces. In part the book is a function of its time and it would be interesting to see how it would look if it were written now. As such, it is a curiosity and worth examining from a historical perspective.
Harrison, M. and H. Thimbleby. 1990, Formal Methods in Human-Computer Interaction Cambridge: CUP.
Formal methods attempt to provide unambiguous descriptions of the operation of a system through precise notations and mathematical models. In so doing, proponents of such methods claim to overcome some of the inherent weaknesses of intuitive design and facilitate accurate assessment of design specifications. In the editors' words formal methods "provide a clarity much needed in HCI. With some mathematical training one can enter into rigorous debates about design issues". This may be so, but if rigor replaces content, as is all too easy in this peculiar language game, we gain nothing. Though aimed at HCI researchers as well as software engineers this book will, I fear, win few friends and influence less people in the psychological community of HCI-ers. Written predominantly by academic computer scientists, it assumes at least passing knowledge of mathematical notations. As an introduction to, or summary of the area, it contains much of worth, but ultimately fails to convince me that the way to better user interfaces lies primarily in formal methods of the kind advocated here.
This, in my option, is the greatest edited collection of HCI work around. So, it's 10 years old (and there is a new edition out now, priced even more ridiculously than the first edition) but it contains more comprehensive reviews of everything related to HCI than lots of other books combined. Definitive works on usability by Gould, seminal overviews of individual differences by Egan, chapters on programming, mental models, cognitive modeling techniques, physical ergonomics, organizational acceptance, you name it. Unfortunately the publisher chose to price it out of the market so most normal people had to rely on libraries to get a copy and thus were denied the joy of having it to hand. An excellent text then, and still good now.
Kroemer, H. and Grandjean, E. (1997) Fitting the task to the Human (5th edition) Taylor and Francis.
A classic text, much revised and now dealing with all humans (not just men!) on the physical ergonomics of workstation design. Amazes many people with its explication of the mass of information accumualted on the physical aspects of interaction.
This is a great book, not really intended as a primer on HCI or as a class text, but as an example of why design of interaction really matters. You don't have to know a thing about HCI to read it, but it is not simplistic - an amazing balancing act that Tom Landauer pulls off admirably. For a full review visit my book review section.
Loath though I am to read any book with 'innovation' in the title, this is a comprehensive collection of the work of Leonard, generally regarded as a guru of Knowledge Management. You get more than 20 years worth of papers from various journals, heavily weighted toward her work at the Harvard Business School, which is amenable to dipping rather than extended reading. I find the contents to be a mixed bag, some gems along with lots of what feels like pop psychology but then, has business-oriented writing ever been anything else?
Long, J. and A.Whitefield (1989) Cognitive Ergonomics and Human-Computer Interaction Cambridge:CUP
Despite the title, this is not a handbook of guidelines or readings on HCI but an attempt by the authors to place their work within a framework for cognitive ergonomics outlined by Long in chapter one. Thus it marks the first attempt, to my knowledge, by a group of established researchers to agree a rhetoric and perspective for discussing the diverse activities that are cognitive ergonomics. Unfortunately, Long's framework does not make light reading and requires an acceptance of such terms as 'interaction development practice' as a replacement for 'system development' and 'acquisition representation' as an alternative to whatever term you use to describe the output of a task analysis. After translating one's own particular jargon into Long-speak the reader may well find himself saying "So what?". I once sat in as conference session where, after Long had presented this, a software engineer said he didn't understand it. Long asked what words he did not understand, to which the questioner replied something like: "I understand all the words, just not the way you use them!" Paradigm-making or pseudo-science? The answer lies somewhere in-between.
Lowenthal, M (2009) Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy Washington DC: CQ Press
This is the first book I read on Intelligence work and it is a solid, though tedious introduction to the functions, processes, methods and policy issues underlying national (rather than corporate) intelligence activities. Amenable to non-specialists (if they can stand the writing) one could use this as a basic introductory course text in any iSchool.
McKnight, C., Dillon, A. and Richardson (1991) Hypertext in Context, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
An oldie but goldie -- a user-centered perspective on the nature of users, the tasks they perform and the contexts in which hypertext might best be applied. Contains reviews of the concept of navigation from a psychological orientation and describes the process the authors followed in building the world's frist hypertext electronic journal. This book is still available.
McKnight, C., Dillon, A. and Richardson (1993) Hypertext: A Psychological Perspective, Ellis-Horwood.
Sadly out of print now but this contains some real gems. Intended as a serious study of the underlying psychological issues in designing and using hypermedia, it contains the definitive account of the SuperBook project by Tom Landauer and colleages at Bellcore, early work on the application of constructivist frameworks to educational hypertext by Duffy et al and Jonnasen; and personal interpretations of the theoretical underpinnings of y by Pat Wright, Nick Hammond, Peter Whalley and the editors, who complete the proceedings with a cirtique of the navigation model of design and raise the issue of semantic space as the next great design focus.
Moran, T., Carroll, J. (eds, 1996) Design rationale: Concepts, techniques and use.
Part of HCI has always been a concern with the design process and the manner in which that participants in that process could be influenced. Extending this somewhat, the concept of design rationale has emerged in recent years to describe the capturing for use of the actions, motivations, decisions, and reasoning of the design team.
A well known text on the basics of usability engineering (defining usability in operational terms, how to capture data, number of users to employ in testing etc.) that is a gentle introduction for those who want to get their hands dirty. The interpretations and recommendations are often more personal than scientific but this relfects the audience for the book quite well one imagines. There is some padding (the section on user types is very weak) and the book serves little purpose as an academic text but it has its niche and serves it.
The second edition of Nielsen's work on hypertext, expanded to take account of the rise of the Web. I've never been comfortable with the love affair some HCI folks have for hypertext, especially when the empirical evidence we have demands critical analysis of the user's capability to exploit or benefit from such applications. Nevertheless, Nielsen is less sweeping than most in this field and when someone needs a book that takes them from the 'What is this hypertext thing anyway'-stage to an understanding of the potential for this technology, then this book fits the bill.
Nielsen, J. and Mack, R. (eds.) (1994) Usability Inspection Methods, New York: Wiley.
This is a worthwhile addition to the literature on usability and serves as probably the best single introduction to test methods without users. Heuristic evaluation, cognitive walkthrough, formal inspection are all described in detail. Excellent chapters comparing the strengths of various methods add to the value of this text.
If this isn't the best loved student text on HCI then I have no idea what is. Subsequently re-titled "The Design of Everyday Things", when, according to popular rumor, the author found that the original title was landing the book on the shelves next to Freud and Jung in bookshops, this book identifies user issues in all kinds of artifacts - door handles, stereos, car dashboards, refrigerators etc., with perhaps a surprising lack of emphasis on computers. No bad thing in itself as it avoids emphasizing design guidelines for screens (all too common in such books) and makes the reader think a little more about what makes an object usable in the first place. A gentle introduction to psychology enables non-psychologists to gain a lot from this book, though it causes far too many of my students to drop the term "affordances" into every analysis without thinking.
Dated but highly readable collection of papers about HCI, cognitive engineering, user error, mental models etc. Several authors have several different chapters each, and there is something for everyone here.
Norman, K. (1991) The Psychology of Menu Selection Norwood NJ: Ablex.
The other Norman (Kent, not Don) has written perhaps the definitive text on the design of menu structures for interactive systems. The book is technical and based on cognitive analyses of user behavior. Norman dispels many of the myths of menu design (no 7±2 items nonsense here) and provides numerous accounts of experimental studies testing various menu variables e.g., depth, breadth, formatting, clustering etc.) and reviews speed/accuracy trade-offs, individual differences and the fact that intuitive design and research evidence frequently conflict. An essential read for anyone designing or researching user behavior with menu-driven systems.
Nunberg, G. (1998) (ed) The Future of the Book, MIT Press.
Enjoyable but wordy collection of essays on the book and the digital future. Surprisingly large parts of the text given over to the past, and more convoluted terms and allusions than you would normally expect outside of a graduate seminar in literary theory. However, there is a certain pleasure to be gained in reading this text despite its lack of coverage of such HCI staples as hypertext usability or navigation in information space.
Preece, J., Keller, L. (eds, 1990) Human-Computer Interaction: Selected readings.
21 chapters divided into six sections covering the scope of HCI, interaction tasks, psychological aspects, design, evaluation and tools. Each section is preceded by a brief overview from the editors on the issues and aims of that section. Though it contains one of my all-time favorites in Mack, Lewis and Carroll's (1983) paper on learning to use word processors, I cannot endorse the inclusion of others either on grounds of standard reference status or recent innovation. Social or organizational issues of HCI are entirely absent, (not one relevant paper or a single mention of either in the index) a startling oversight from which one can only conclude that the editors don't consider such issues relevant for HCI. As a collection of classic papers, I'll stick with my well-thumbed photocopies!
Launched 5 years after Booth's text (see above) this is still one of the only complete readers in HCI that is designed to serve as a textbook meeting the criteria outlined in the ACM's suggested HCI curriculum. It is an ambitious work covering users, technology, organizational aspects, the design process, and evaluation in some detail. Chapter quality varies however and student opinion in my classes has been mixed. For those who know absolutely nothing about HCI or have never read any psychology, this book is a useful resource and remains on my recommended reading list. For those who are a little more experienced, this book appears too superficial, though I stand by the point that some chapters remain very useful even for such students. As a one-stop introduction, this might still be the one to get.
Raber, D. (2003) The Problem of Information: An introduction to Information Science Scarecrow Press.
A nicely articulated examination of the fundamental nature of information rooted in a semiotic perspective. Not really an introduction to the discipline as the title implies, more a theoretical and conceptual examination of the concept of information and how it is understood in multiple contexts.
Rayner, K., Pollatsek, A., Ashby, J. and Clifton, C. (2012) Psychology of Reading, 2nd Ed. New York: Psychology Press
The bible of reading research, a thorough compendium of what is currently known about the perceptual and cognitive processes underlying one of the greatest human skills, the act of reading. It lacks serious treatment of applied work on HCI but it is my go-to text for the underlying science. Hard to see this beaten until a third edition arrives.
Reeves, B. and Naas, C. (1994) The Media Equation
Do people really treat their computers like other people? Well, something like that seems to be suggested by the findings in this text. The authors propose that computers can best be seen as social actors and in a series of chapters outlinngvarious stages of their own research, we are presented with evidence that strongly suggests users cannot help attributing human-like qualities to the tools they use.
Rivlin, C. Lewis, R. and Davies Cooper, R. (eds.) Guidelines for Screen Design. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications 1990.
The book takes a wide view of the relevant issues in screen design and places them in the general context of a design process. Within chapters the material is organized such that guidelines are presented on the left hand page with their underlying rationale outlined opposite. The beauty of this approach is that one is never left asking why such a guideline is advocated or what supporting evidence exists. You may disagree with a guideline but you are presented with the means to find out more and thereby deduce why the authors proposed it (although critical appraisal of this is another matter). The problem with this is that one poor guideline can ruin an otherwise useful tool. Reading their recommendations on color startled me: they recommend red on green, and caution against use of black text on white - complete counter-suggestions to the published human factors evidence!
Rouet, J.F, Levonen, J., Dillon, A. and Spiro, R. (eds.) (1996) Hypertext and Cognition, NJ: LEA
Collection of papers that focus on the effects of hypertext on learning. Various authors from Europe and the US offer a strongly empirical perspective on the design and use of this technology. Offers an alternative view of the value of hypermedia in education and raises theoretical concerns for future research.
This is a nice collection of papers from an interesting mix of HCI people who were brought together by Brian Shackel in Loughborough in the late 1980s to present at a Government sponsored workshop. Chapters from Phil Barnard and Ben Shneiderman tread familiar territory for them, Alphonse Chapanis pipes up with two chapters, one on the cost benefits of HCI (or Human Factors in general) and one on evaluation. Shackel himself gives the definitive account of his usability perspective here, a definition that much influenced the ISO emerging definitions, though the influence is rarely acknowledged. Another good overview of the field and a book still worth obtaining.
The book is built around a comparison between a group of 75 computer dependents and two matched groups of non-dependents (computer owners and non-owners). This comparison is carried out in sound and thoughtful manner using a mixture of techniques such as personality tests, questionnaires and interviews. Her main findings are that most computer dependents are introverted males interested in technical matters who display mild schizoid tendencies. Shotton argues convincingly that the roots of the addiction lie in the earlier experiences of the users, the computer offering some form of positive feedback to otherwise discouraged individuals. As such, computer dependency is seen as a symptom of underlying psychological problems, not a cause, or to use the author's words, dependency is 'a fulfillment of needs, not an illness'. Fascinating case study data are provided to back up these points. In addition the book examines the reasons for the apparent lack of female dependents (not merely explicable in terms of opportunity) and discusses the traditional widespread resistance to new technologies in our culture.
Before Designing the User Interface came out, Prof. Shneiderman had produced a book (and named a field) that introduced many a student in the early 1980s to HCI (me!). Sadly, neither the name Software Psychology, not the book really survived into the 1990s, but this is a gem of a read, and one that is always worth looking back on to see just how far we have come.
A fine overview text, covers most of the bases in mainstream HCI research. Obviously one book cannot go into depth on all issues, but the present text is one of the best compromises around. Ben Schneiderman is a fine writer and a scientist so the emphasis on empirical evidence and user testing of interface features is largely in line with my own views. For this, the fifth edition, he adds another solid author and keeps the book moving forward. Any edition is fine but each one reflects the technology of the time. This text deals with the messy issues of design ethics, and who is responsible for technology that disturbs, harms or increases stress - sufficient reason to necessitate the book's reading by all HCI students! There are lots of great graphics and sufficient references for readers to follow through on material. Earlier editions are still worth reading/owning so if you see them cheap, pick them up.
Suchman, L. (1987) Plans and situation action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Another influential text, written with a purpose, here to remind those interested in studying interaction that human behavior, especially communicative behavior, is contingent upon contextual variables. Attempting to model user behavior divorced from context is not useful argues the author, and in so saying spawned a generation of students who invoke the term "situated" every other sentence. Not an easy read but a really worthwhile one, and 10 years on I still use it in class, and even students who complain that it's too wordy, really end up linking it.
Vaske, J. and Grantham, C. (1990) Socializing the Human-Computer Environment. Ablex.
An unusual and highly readable text that places HCI in a more social context. A fine first intro for many readers into the social psychology of interaction, the nature of organizations, the meaning of socio-technical systems thinking etc. It goes for breadth over depth so readers looking for a deep treatment of cscw etc. really need to go elsewhere but the perspective it espouses is as closer to a true socio-cognitive perspective than many more standard HCI texts. A new edition would be welcomed by this reviewer.
von Oostendorp, H., Breure, L, and Dillon, A. (Eds.) (2006) Creation, Use and Deployment of Digital Information, NY: LEA
A collection of chapters dealing with information across its lifecycle, covering genre studies, educational use of digital materials, design of user interfaces, collaboration, and user behavior. An unusually wide ranging group of authors are pulled together in this collection which gives the coverage greater breadth than is the norm.
Weckert, J and Adeney, D. (1997) Computer and Information Ethics, Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press
An interesting primer in ethics for philosophical novices that successfully lays out the range of ethical positions and counter-arguments in a wide range of issues surrounding information technology. Not strictly an HCI book, and indeed the authors really do not go into some of the more pertinent ethical issues surrounding design and implementation of computers but there is a balance and level-headedness about the authors treatment of ethics that serves to encourage thought.
Waern, Y. (1989) Cognitive aspects of computer supported tasks. Chichester: John Wiley.
Nice introductory book leaning heavily on cognitive analyses of work, by an established HCI practitioner. Written from a Scandinavian perspective, though not in the sense that this term has taken on recently :). Finds a nice medium ground bridging cognitive and organizational perspectives rather than limiting itself to one or other, which is sufficient to make this book stand out slightly from other texts. Unfortunately what will make it stand out to potential purchasers is the crazy $150 price tag Wiley have placed on it.
This is the 2nd edition of Wickens' classic human factors textbook which offers very detailed coverage of human perceptual and cognitive issues in interface design. This has been a favorite text of mine since I was a student, not because it is central to the study of HCI (it isn't) but because it gathers together in one place more than most people will want to know about the relationship between human psychology and interaction with technology. If you've never studied psychology, some of this text might be hard work, but it would remain comprehensible for the most part. Examples are largely drawn from the aviation domain, but that doesn't stop them being insightful unless you lack the imagination to interpret them in more standard HCI ways. It is expensive to buy though (in the $80 range as I recall) and might be beginning to show its age, but it remains indispensable in my view.
Winograd, T. and Flores, F. (1988) Understanding Computers and Cognition, Reading MA: Addison Wesley.
Winograd and Flores are interested in computers as life enrichers and liberators of humanity and encourage designers to "let our awareness of the potentials for transformation guide our actions in creating and applying technology" p179. However, such admirable goals are, according to the authors, unattainable within the design philosophy underlying contemporary technology which is presented here as narrow and rationalistic. What the authors attempt to provide is a clarification of the background of understanding in which the discourse about computers and technology takers place. The basic tenet of their argument is that computer science has got it wrong which has resulted in generations of researchers and system developers taking for granted a false view of how we exist in and interact with our surroundings, with the end result that our computerised tools are a poor match for our needs. Their alternative is richly based on hermeneutics, thus it is the sort of book many will find either stimulating or totally irrelevant. Unfortunately they leave too much unanswered for some readers (like me!) who want perspectives to be extended to implications, but this book is a good alternative read for HCI-ers in search of life after GOMS!
Wilson, J. and Corlett, N. (1996) Evaluation of Human Work, London:Taylor and Francis.
This is a large reference book that covers the methods used by ergonomists/Human Factors practitioners. It contains 38 chapters on topics such as task analysis, use of verbal protocol data, determining the effectiveness of written material, assessing the visual environments, systems implementation etc. In short, it covers a lot of ground. The down side is that most of the chapters are somewhat superficial, but the book is a good introduction to human factors work. The authors are predominantly British, and there is little that is specific to HCI in the text, but it is a useful desktop resource.