On my travels I've managed to meet with some of the most influential people in the 3ds Max community and learn from the best.
When I was first learning 3ds Max I never had this luxury and so I wanted to share some of the books which have proved invaluable to me, both then and now. All of the below I personally recommend to form part of your book shelf. You should not regret purchasing them....
Essential CG Lighting Techniques by Darren Brooker
This book provides a great overview of all considerations for producing stunning imagery with carefully thought out lighting. Darren's book gives an insight into the techniques he has used when working at some very high profile studios, including post production techniques. This book guides you through the many stages of creating compelling lighting.
(Update: Darren is now my manager at Autodesk, so it's a good job I had previously recommended his book!)
Rendering with mental ray & 3ds Max by Joep van der steen
This was the very first 3ds Max book i ever purchased, and one that has stayed on my bookshelf ever since. It has helped me out many times in production and I highly recommend its purchase. Its examples are clear and precise, as well as being constantly updated. Since buying this book I've had the priviledge of working with Joep, who runs the EUE (event) held in Utrectht every year.
Mastering mental ray: Rendering Techniques for 3D and CAD Professionals by Jennifer O'Connor
This is the most recent addition to my collection, and even though I'm only half way through it I've already learnt techniques which have improved my visuals.
3ds Max Fundamentals by Ted Boardman
It's by the legend that is Ted Boardman - what more do I need to say? Anything by this character is guaranteed to be inspirational. Ted is by far one of the nicest people in this industry.
Deconstructing the Elements with 3ds Max by Peter Draper
This is a fantastic book if you want to create 'explosive' imagery without additional plugins. He continues to work on many blockbuster movies using the techniques he has outlined in this exceptional book. There's too many to mention.
Focal Easy Guide to Discreet Combustion 4 by Gary M. Davis
Gary, as well as being named an Autodesk Master, now works for Autodesk. His book is an excellent resource for post-production techniques. No matter what software your using the principles remain the same. Gary is based in the US, and if your ever lucky enough to see one of his demos then I recommend taking a notepad and pen!
Illustrated Building Glossary by Roxanna McDonald
This pocketbook was invaluable when in production. Often when talking to specialist architects, or assessing deisgn documents some of the terminology was not clear. This book allowed me to asses the notes and details without chasing the drafts person. All the terminology within this book is clearly described by hand drawn imagery.
3ds Max Architectural Visualization by Brian L. Smith
This provides a good grounding to the fundamtentals of Architectural Visualisation within 3ds Max.
Mastering Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 by Mark Gerhard and Jeffrey M. Harper
The official Autodesk training guide book. A beast at 936 pages.
3D art & design Vol 02 Imagine Publishing
From the makers of 3DArtist magazine. 259 pages of indepth of tutorials.
3ds Max Essentials by Future Publishing
226 pages of 3ds Max only tutorials and workflows. Future publishing also produce 3dworld magazine.