This is a list of the books and research papers that I've used as a reference along with a brief summary of their content.
A survey of icon taxonomy used in the interface design
Wang Hsiu-Feng, Hung Sheng-Hsiung and Liao Ching-Chih.
This research paper is a compilation and comparison of some of the most important icon taxonomy systems.
An empirical approach to the evaluation of icons
Webb, J. M., Sorenson, P. F. and Lyons, N. P. (1989). An empirical approach to the evaluation of icons. SIGCHI Bulletin. 21 (1). 87-90.
An article about potential ways for evaluating icons.
Auditory icons: using sound in computer interface
Gaver, W. (1986). Auditory icons: using sound in computer interface. Human-Computer Interaction. 2 (2), 167-177.
An early study of auditory interface icons and how they might be classified.
Earcons and icons: their structure and common design principles
Blattner, M. A., Sumikawa, D. A. and Greenberg, R. A. (1989). Earcons and icons: their structure and common design principles. Human-computer interaction. 4 (1), 11-40.
A study of auditory icons or earcons, and how the same design and classification principles might be applicable for both visual and auditory icons.
Barthes, R. (1977). Elements of Semiology. New York. Hill and Wang.
Barthes' very compact summary, of what he thinks as the key elements of semiology, is often considered as one of the fundamental writings about semiotic theory.
Foundations of Theory of Signs
Morris, C. W. (1938). Foundations of Theory of Signs. University of Chicago Press.
Ware, C. (2008). Visual Thinking for Design. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Lodding, K. N. (1983). Iconic interfacing. IEEE computer graphics and applications. 3 (2), 11-20.
One of the earliest studies on the taxonomy of interface icons.
Rogers, Y. (1989). Icons at interface: their usefulness. Interacting with computers.1 (1), 105117.
Mistä symbolit kertovat -Taidetta pintaa syvemmältä
Väisänen, L. (2015) Kirjapaja, Helsinki.
An art historic approach to the language of symbols. This is on my list of books to read.
Mollerup, P. (1997) Phaidon Press Limited, London.
Marks of excellence is really a book on trademark and logo design. However it presents a complex taxonomy system for their classification, which is very relevant to icon classification as well.
Rayan, A., Hubner, R. (2006) Thames & Hudson Ltd., London.
As the title says the book covers much more than just icons. The top level term being pictorial signs, which is to encompass both icons and pictograms.
Rockstar Icon Designer
McInnes, K. Rockable Press.
This book by Kate McInnes is a good guide for someone who is getting started in doing systematic icon design. It also offers a compact description of the history of GUI icon design.
Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language
Eco, U. (1984). Indiana University Press.
If You are looking for a semiotic approach to icon research, this is a good resource for You. Eco makes reference to and evaluates some of the most important theories in semiotics, and does it in his entertaining way. For practical purposes, a large part of the text is quite high flying and sometimes difficult to follow. Still there are many good practical points to be discovered even for less theoretic readers.
Signs, Language, and Behavior
Morris, C. W. (1955). Signs, Language, and Behavior. George Braziller.
Dreyfuss, H. (1972). Symbol Sourcebook. New York. McGraw-Hill.
True to its name the Symbol Sourcebook is an extensive collection of symbols from different fields of life, science and industries. In addition to that it offers analytic approaches to what symbols are and how they are used.
Lidwell, W., Holden, K. and Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design. Massachusetts. Rockport Publishers.
The book covers 125 design concepts that apply to a variety of different disciplines including graphic and user-interface design. The book doesn't go deep into the details of any of the concepts, but it is a good read for anyone working with design and usability.
Visual Thinking for Design
Ware, C. (2008). Visual Thinking for Design. Morgan Kaufmann.
An introduction to what visual thinking is, and how the human eye and brain function together in seeing and recognising visual patterns.