Essential Reading List - and the best time for each book

There’s so many great books when it comes to this beloved game of ours. While I have searched around on the web and have identified some that are universally considered to be “must-read” - it’s still sometimes difficult to determine just when I should read them in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

I know there’s a lot of people here with deep knowledge of the game and years of experience. Would anyone be willing to perhaps list your essential book list and when (what Kyu/Dan level) would you considered to be the best time for them based on your own experience?

Hopefully others starting the journey would find it helpful as well; I for one would appreciate it immensely!

As a complete beginner up to 15 kyu, Jonathan Hop’s series “So You Want to Play Go?” helped me the most. Those books are out of print now, but you can still find the PDF on Kindle and other e-readers.

To push from 12k to SDK, Yuan Zhou’s “How Not to Play Go” is a good recommendation.

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“Tesuji” by Jim Davies anytime between 15 and 7k EGF. Total classic and extremely helpful. Got me 2 stones in strength almost overnight after reading and solving problems.

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It is not a straight forward question to answer because I think a lot depends on personal strengths and weaknesses and how these relate to your rank. Putting this point to one side though, the below are possibly my personal highlights of the books I have tried to read (150+):

Beginner - DDK
Second Book of Go - Richard Bozulich
Tesuji - James Davies
Opening Theory Made Easy - O. Hideo
Go for Beginners - K. Iwamoto
Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go - T.Kageyama

Intermediate - SDK
Reducing Territorial Frameworks - Shuko Fujisawa
Utilising Outward Influence - Jin Jiang
Great Joseki Debates - Honda Kunihisa
Breakthrough to Shodan - N. Miyamoto
Mastering the Basics series

Advanced - Dan
Relentless - Go Game Guru (I very much recommend this)
Katos’ Attack & Kill - M. Kato
Invincible - John Power
Whole Board Thinking in Joseki V1 & V2 - Yi-Lun Yang (probably SDK level but you need a good joseki knowledge first)

On the general debate of how to improve here are some other tips that have helped me at various stages:

  • Play games as much as possible (the first thing my go teacher told me was i need to be playing daily)
  • Always review your games afterwards. Everyone should be able to see where they and where their opponents gained the points. The why then follows. If you can then go software/a go teacher/people at your go club will also help with this.
  • Do daily life and death problems (between 10 and 20). This helps with your reading ability.
  • Don’t bother analysing professional games in detail until you are a sufficient standard because most of it is above your head (just do it for fun). Focus on getting the basics right first.
  • If you can afford it then the thing that has helped me the most is Guo Juan’s internet go school.

As I only read two books so far, I can only make one recommandation, which is “Attack and Defense”. As I had problems with some reaccuring situations on the board the book gave me some tools to handle it, and so I moved up about 3 stones. You should start reading it when you get about 12 or 13k, Id say.

All the recommendations by Airstrike, plus
Strategic concepts of Go by Nagahara,
great rub through plus lots of problems

Regarding “mastering the basics” series. I am currently working my way through “Making good shape” and as 7k SDK it feels arcane adn wayyy over my head with it’s problems