I would recommend The algorithm design manual for more practical purposes.
I don't think so, I've worked through it and I didn't find it that difficult/academic. But I actually don't read a lot of computer science books / textbooks so I don't really have much to compare it to other than mathematical texts which I do read a lot of.
If you don't like proofs or math then its probably not the best text to work through, on the other hand, if you like rigorously understanding the material I would highly recommend it.
Either way, from what I remember it gives psuedocode for just about everything and has lots of graphs and pictures for elucidating the material, so you could probably just skip the math if you have an allergy to corrolaries, theorems, and proofs. Admittedly, that extra insight is probably a lot of the reason I liked it so much.