My Favorite Software Book Author
My favorite writer on software matters is Martin Fowler. What he has to say is always practical, useful and useable. I think the main reason for this is that he evaluates importances. He doesn't just throw 20 pieces of data at you without giving you any idea of what is important and what isn't.
For example, in his book UML Distilled he points out how useless Use Case diagrams are and that really the text of use cases is what you really need. I found this out the hard way myself when I utilized Use Cases for the first time some years ago. Reading his book first would have saved me a lot of wasted time.
Martin has a great website and an excellent blog called Martin Fowler's Bliki. I highly recommend them to any software developer.