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Really depends on what you are trying to find out. One book that really goes into great detail on lasers is Solid State Laser Engineering, by Walter Koechner. I also have many books on holography if you are interested in that.
I am mostly interested in hobby laser material. I think we can skip the physics. Anything for building pointers would be good. Laser light show material. Laser art. Lasers in photography.
Thanks for any suggestions. I will look them all over. =)
The most important information you need to understand is laser safety, at the very least wearing the appropriate laser safety glasses to attenuate the wavelength you're working with is a must and it should go without saying that responsible lasing is mandatory at all times.
Remember many mistakes can result in a lifelong disability and should one impart said disability upon another then legal repercussions could result as well as regret, so remember safety first and don't take any shortcuts, don't think " I'll just take a peek at the lens without removing the batteries " make a mental list of your safety rules and always follow them.
My first 3 rules are:
#1 Laser safety glasses
#2 If you're not in a laser lab then STOP, LOOK and LISTEN before lasing, make sure there are no aircraft, approaching cars or children playing nearby before operating a laser outdoors in a safe manner.
#3 Always keep a hand held laser pointed in a safe direction.
And remember to take your time, it's a hobby after all.