Re: favorite photography books
I'm never good at picking out my favorite books, movies or whatever, my favorites are usually whatever I'm into at the time. Here are 3 things I like, all for completely different reasons.
Last December when I was in London, I picked up Alchemy - twelve contemporary artists exploring the essence of photography, a book published in conjunction with the touring exhibit. It's definitely alt, though not necessarily in the sense of the historical processes that we are doing. You can download a pdf about the show here for more info: http://www.abbothall.org.uk/press/AlchemyPR.pdf
A photographer whose work I saw at the National Portrait Gallery (also in London) was Angus McBean. His work is very theatrical and surrealist: http://www.npg.org.uk/live/woangusmcbean.asp
You can see many examples by clicking on "In the Collection" and there is a book available by clicking "Exhibition Products".
I have Annie Leibovitz's Women (with essay by Susan Sontag) and I always enjoy looking at it.