book :: Pattern Classification
This is the book where it all started for me. The author, Richard O. Duda, is one of the most famous pioneers in pattern recognition and his book is regarded by many as the bible of pattern recognition and machine learning. If you would only want to read one book, then this should be the one. Duda starts by an introduction into probabilistics and gradually continues with more advanced topics. Although the mathematics are not avoided, they are used in a practical manner to help you gain a deeper understanding of the most important machine learning techniques. When teaching pattern recognition at the University of Antwerp, this is the textbook I recommended to my students.