Dieter: (moving a not by - I think - Masterdam) added links to the publisher's description of the books, which is also the ordering page for the book. couldn't not find a page that described the book with being the ordering page. are these links acceptable here at SL or should they be removed?
DavidPeklak (21k* IGS): I like this book a lot. It is very easy to read and although I had the feeling that I already knew everything in this book when I first read it, my IGS rating became two stones better right afterwards.
uxs (about 17k): I just read the book, I found it rather easy to read, and fairly easy to comprehend. This was confirmed by the little test at the end, for which i got a "good" result.
The book itself says that volume 1 to 3 in this series are designed to bring the reader up to about 12 kyu, which I find a bit optimistic.
nachtrabe (13k KGS): There is one thing in particular I really enjoy about Janice Kim's approach: She's a generalist. Most books in English, after getting out of the very basics of the introduction, become extremely specialized. The Elementary Go Series is a good example of this: every book is very specific and generally goes more in depth than a player who is just starting out is ready for. The amount of material and the different areas of that material is daunting to the beginner.
Both the Learn to Play Go Series and the The Second Book of Go attempt to tackle this problem by presenting a broad overview that covers several different areas within the game of Go. Rather than learning everything there is to know about Ko fights, the basics are presented in a way that is clear and understandable to the beginner audience that the book is geared towards.
Moving on to the individual books:
Learn to Play Go
A great book for learning the rules, but not much else. For someone who doesn't know the rules and is just getting started, this book is particularly nice because the beginner can lay out the basic life and death problems and situations in the book on the board that comes with the book, and actually get more of a tactile feel for what the game looks like.
Anyone who is familiar with the basic rules and played a game or two should probably skip straight to The Way of the Moving Horse.
Way of the Moving Horse
My favorite book in the series. Once someone knows how to play, it often turns out that she doesn't really know "how to play." Basic tactics and strategy, the relationships between the stones, etc are not even grasped on an abstract level--She simply hasn't seen enough of the game to know, and so every move is a shot in the dark.
Way of the Moving Horse fills a much-needed gap here. It talks about the relations between stones, different ways that the stones move, and the basics of strategy and tactics. Concepts such as ko and capture races are presented, albeit at a very low level, but enough so that when they come up in game the student can put a name to to what she has just seen (invaluable for feeling less hopelessly lost).
Minor caveat: While I adored this book the first time through and found it just what I needed while learning, it isn't so much a good "fast review of fundamental concepts" for a stronger player.
The Palace of Memory
Tamsin: I'm still digesting this one, but I think it's good...really good. It's deceptively simple, but as Janice Kim says, what you really need to know to be very strong is actually not that much. I feel that reading this book is helping me with two major shortcomings in my game: fuseki and endgame. I've relied on my fighting strength to compensate for my weakness in openings and endings, and this book has helped me with that, too, with its clear demonstrations of how shape works. Last night I sat down to play and felt something that I've not felt for a long, long time: that exquisite feeling of having a new understanding, of having become stronger in a leap. I won my game with ease. Of course, another thing that's helped me is that I've lost my fear of losing, but that's another kettle of fish...
Anyway, if you want to get a really clear grasp of how to play the opening and how to find big endgame moves and the right sequence in which to play them, then this is the one for you.
My only gripelet is that Janice Kim does not mention the principle of mutual damage, but my knowing about that has not hitherto helped me as much as it would have done had I got the basics right in the first place.