Every chapter is a concise, readable and informative introduction to, and overview of, a field of numerical computing. If you need to use numerical methods, without being an expert on them, 'Numerical Recipes' acts as an unusually helpful tutor. The concepts are well explained in a way that makes clear the motivation, the strengths and the potential weaknesses of each method. It helps that the authors offer opinions and experience as well as mathematics. The structure of the book is good - it is easy to find the chapter you want, and easy to read each chapter, or section, without having to cross-reference other sections (I hate it when textbooks do that). I often read this book to choose my method, then use another subroutine library for implementation.