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As your thread title suggest, this topic has been covered quite a few time. The best place to start would be this forums search function. There are many discussions about good Java books.
That being said, I myself read the "Head First Java" book. If you are used to standard technical manuals, you may or may not like the way Head First Java is written as it is written in a completely different way than a standard technical manual. It took me most of the way through the first chapter to start getting used to the book. Once I got through a couple chapters I started to like the way it was written. it really did help me understand and remember concepts better. I would recommend going the [url http://www.amazon.com/Head-First-Java-Kathy-Sierra/dp/0596009208/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305264251&sr=8-1]books page on Amazon.com and reading the first few pages. Make sure you read the Introduction about why the book is written the way it is and what Metacognition is.
Also, the study guide for the SCJP cert (or now the Oracle Certified Professional Java Programmer cert) covers most of the core java language in depth. Here is the Amazon.com page [url http://www.amazon.com/SCJP-Certified-Programmer-Java-310-065/dp/0071591060/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305265344&sr=1-1]http://www.amazon.com/SCJP-Certified-Programmer-Java-310-065/dp/0071591060/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305265344&sr=1-1. This would be a good follow up to "Head First Java" if you want to really gain an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the core Java language. From there you can decided what you want to focus on and what direction you want to go in. Desktop, Web, EE, embeded, mobile, ect.
Hope that helps a little.
well, IT industry day by day updating. our aim is understanding the technology and applying the concepts, what ever it is either java or MS.Net.Both are Good platforms doing things well.Some of the members argument with people which is best ?.My opinion is if you learn the both technologies who will ask that type questions ?. you are dealing the both technologies and enjoying fascinating platforms.
Apart from this The good books for Java is :
The Complete reference Java SE for Java SE.
Head First and w3schools.com for Java EE.
But learning is not import at all, Applying the Concepts are important.