I recently got the boxed 3-volume set (gift from my wife), and I must
confess that I've been meaning to start reading them methodically,
but haven't. However, over the years I have consulted them for
in reply to Knuth books and programming
IMO, Knuth's books are a must-have for anyone serious about
programming. But they are also in-depth treatment of the topics
and not "cookbooks". Go to them if you really want to understand
how things work and why they work the way they do. And be
prepared to do quite a bit of thinking yourself while reading
If all you want is "how do I implement such-and-such algorithm
in language X", you probably don't want TAOCP (unless X eq "MIX" :-),
but one of the "Algorithms in X" books out there.
Also, if you are going to buy the books, make sure you get the
latest edition (third for books 1 and 2, second for book 3),
which has been nicely retypeset and updated.