Re: When I don't have SiP, I'll recommend...
So, to the much more hardcore comic fans out there - which X-Men collections do I need to read to give me a good overview of the series? I know there are frikkin' millions of the things - which ones should I be on the lookout for?
There's a DVD, titled, 40 Years of X-Men, that has every issue of Uncanny (including the annuals and Giant-Size #1) up to '04 or so scanned in in PDF format, ads and all. That's a good starting point, plus any collections of The Fall of the Mutants, Inferno, and the other major X-title crossovers where the DVD falls short.
Same for Batman, if you please
I've read a bit of War Games, but that's about it...
Batman: Year One, Batman: Year Two, The Dark Knight Returns, any O'Neil/Adams collections, Knightfall (which spans over multiple TPBs), The Killing Joke, and A Death in the Family stick out in my mind.