on design books.. i haven't read any but heard of this one book. Design Patterns - Elements of Reusable Software, by Gamma, Helm, Johnson and Vlissedes. its supposed to be a classic commonly known as Gang of Four - GoF. i actually got a design book, not read a page, which talks of it.
on java books.. i have just seen a few oreilly and wrox titles. wrox might be a little lengthy. there are many books based on many different concepts on java like jsp, ejb's etc.
actually java has a lot of online resources. thats where i get current info, articles etc. http://www.ibm.com/developerworks is one great resource for tutorials, articles etc. they have some some excellent linux stuff also. oreilly has a good artiles section based on topics like http://www.onjava.com. there are also a few open books, like http://www.theserverside.com
you guys ever thought of joining any open/free source projects? one of java's main strengths is a vast online community with a huge number of projects. visit http://www.jakarta.apache.org for one great resource. does .net have open community projects?