I've started collecting photography books and one of the top ones on my list to buy was Robert Frank's "The Americans." After getting a Guggenheim grant in 1955, the Swiss-born photographer set off across the country, capturing American life at its best, its worst, and just as it is. When he finished in 1956, he met Jack Kerouac who agreed to write the intro to the book. If you find yourself with a copy, you MUST read the intro first! Trust me, it sets the perfect tone.
Here is a small sample of some of my favorite Frank images: