I'm new, I read this thread, purchased and read on the back of it, so i'd like to provide some feedback to help future newbies
1. Read this one first:
4.5 out of 5 Scott Kelby - The Digital Photography Book
This book provides practical, incredibly easy to understand tips, tricks, basics, and advise on how to shoot good pictures. Highly recommended for anyone new to photography, provides a great grounding, and enough to move on to ....
2. Read this one next:
5 out of 5 Bryan Peterson - Understanding Exposure (Updated Version)
What an absolutely awesome book for folks new (and maybe not so new) to photography. Explains the major concepts of photography in an easy to understand manner while providing practical advise on how to apply them to your shooting. Includes excellent photo examples, a few exercises for you to follow, and a huge wealth of knowledge for your brain. I'm going to have to read this one again and again to understand the implications of everything the author discusses. This book left me feeling like I just learned alot and had alot more to learn.
I wouldn't recommend...
2 out of 5 John Hedgecoe's Photography Basics
While John provides solid theory, for me at least he doesn't explain HOW to capture the shot. Kelby and Peterson's books left me with a warm and fuzzy that I'd learnt something ... Hedgecoe's effort while factually correct, just doesn't really help me.
[SIZE=2]I hope this helps future newbies - go buy those first 2 books!!