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 them.
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.
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