Everyone buy this book immediately.
Edward Tufte (pronounced “tufty”) is one of my intellectual role models, right up there with Christopher Alexander. Tufte is for information what Alexander is for buildings. When I was in college, in a rut of non-inspiration, I took a gamble on an odd little course from the Division of Rhetoric and Composition called “Information Architecture,” for which Tufte's “Envisioning Information” was one of the texts. It was one of only two times in college I was awestruck (the other was an introduction to ancient Greek and Roman art). Granted, this tells you as much about my difficulties as an undergrad as it does about Tufte, but there you have it.
I went on to be riveted by the rest of his books. I can honestly say that post-Tufte I see the world in an entirely different light. A new book is like a national holiday. Imagine getting Harry Potter #7 delivered to your door out of nowhere by surprise. Times bajillion!