Well, I have to agree. Since I am finally an ME <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> my first year out of school has shown how little I know of materials. It seems a lot of what I do is material selection, and sometimes it is a lot of trial and error and hit and miss. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> But, I have learned a lot about plastics this last year. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> [/quote]

I am unaware of any recent books that will speed up your learning curve. Plastics (polymers) have always been troublesome and the explanations of mechanical behavior in polymers have been of poor quality for as long as I tried to master them..

An old book, written by an automotive race driver (former) is "Engineer to Win" by Carroll Smith. It is really impressive, and only a few mistakes in the whole thing.
Amazon.com link below.

Another one, which appears to have a recent edition (that I haven't read) is
" The New Science of Strong Materials or Why You Don't Fall through the Floor" (Princeton Science Library) 2006 by J. E. Gordon and Philip Ball . Available at Amazon.com

J E Gordon is an outstanding writer. Most people can't put these books down. Another classic, perhaps recently revised or at least reissued is:
Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down by J.e. Gordon (Paperback - Jul 8, 2003)

There is also
Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, Third Edition by Michael Ashby (Paperback - Jan 26, 2005) which was excellent in the first edition, and I taught a class based upon it.

And, this too is new, and unread by me, but I greatly enjoyed his previous books on materials science.....
Materials: Engineering, Science, Processing and Design by Michael Ashby, Hugh Shercliff, and David Cebon (Hardcover - Mar 30, 2007)

In one sense, all of the books above were gems by gifted men. Too bad we don't have more like them.

Good luck in becoming materials smart. By this time, it should be much easier than before, but I haven't myself seen & read the recent new books that would make it so.