The highly personal last book of the great French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes (say "Bart" with your best attempt at a faux French accent and you'll be close enough). Despite its slenderness and intimate nature, not an easy book to read. I'm fond of saying it took me ten years (and three times through it) to read Camera Lucida. Of course the situation is not that bad, but it's not something you'll get much out of with the TV on and a reactionary chip on your shoulder.
Like most difficult but great work, it repays the effort. My recommendation, if you've never read it before, is to read it once if only so you'll have a richer experience with it the next time you read it, two or five or ten years from now. My appreciation of it has grown, gradually, over many years. I've come around to thinking it's the most essential work of photography theory or criticism we have. With the perhaps fatal caveat that we might not actually need theory in photography. Still, some like to think as well as look.
The new edition from Hill and Wang has a new foreword by Geoff Dyer (this Geoff Dyer) which I haven't seen. (The "Look inside this book" at Amazon.com features the original edition, not the new one.)
Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography at Amazon U.S.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured [partial] Comment by Ricardo Cordeiro: "I read it when I was studying photography some six years ago and it was indeed the book that made me question the importance of theory on photography.
"I enjoyed it and found it interesting at the time but I don't know if it's a book that may change one's way of taking photographs."
Featured [partial] Comment by Dave: "I agree that Camera Lucida is a difficult read but worth the effort. Barthes explanation of 'studium and punctum' really affected the way I take and look at photos. Barthes explains how photos can create an emotional impact on the viewer in a way that seems useful to a working photographer."
Mike adds: The two comments above came in one right after another with only one other comment in between....