understanding light, materials and shaders

Hello, i want to understand light, materials and shaders, but all i can find is tutorials which guide me step by step on the creation of a material.
What i want is to find a tutorial with explanations about how light and materials work, with the proper explanation of concepts and how to use them to create the effects that i want.
i want not only the “how to do X”, but also the “why X is done like this” so i can apply that knowledge in every material i create instead of playing around with values without much understanding of what I’m doing.
links and suggestions are encouraged.


I highly recommend “Digital Lighting and Rendering” by Jeremy Birn.


I have the first edition, I really dont know how the second compares.

Best of Luck!

thanks, the book looks great!