It seems we've been getting this question almost daily lately, so I decided to start a thread on good beginner's photography books and sites. I've scoured the site to find people's recommendations and I've posted them here. If someone had some comments I've posted them and credited the author. Every book here has been recommended by several people, but I just picked a good quote. I also happen to agree that every book & link is something that I would recommend.
PLEASE NOTE: There are *still* a lot of books on this list - too many to make an easy choice by someone new to Photography. If you can, PLEASE make a recommendation for the ONE BOOK a newbie should get.
If you have any other books or site suggestions please add it to this thread.
The following authors have repeatedly been recommended by members of this site. And I mean like 10 or 12 people recommending each of the following authors. If in you're in the bookstore browsing then look for these authors - chances are extremely good that you will get a good book.
Any of the National Geographic Field Guides
Shoot!: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About 35Mm Photography
A collection of articles covering a wide range of subjects, all written by some top people in the field. Though meant for 35mm almost all of it is pertinent to digital. The articles are very informative without being too long or technical. Though not a first book to get I found it very informative and useful, and I still read it from time to time.
The Photographers Handbook by John Hedgecoe
It is old, but it covers everything, good for a beginner/intermediate. Not a lighting specific book, though it covers it. This is probably geared to someone like you and probably a little further ahead. As far as I know, it is considered one of the "must have" books, based on the amount of times I have seen it suggested. I don't think I have seen any other book reccomended as much as this one.
Recommendation by Persian-Rice
Note: The URL I linked is for the 3rd edition, so maybe it's not so old as Persian-Rice says
ShortCourses.com lists a lot of free info but they also have a number of books they've written. I got the 10D book and it's very good - I'm sure the others are also good. If you're looking for a very good book specifically on your new 10D or 20D or DRebel then check these guides out. Edit: Please realize that these ShortCourses books are not just camera manuals. Do not compare them to the Canon manuals or the Magic Lantern Guides. They do more than tell you what the controls and features do. They'll teach you a bit about photography on the way, and how the different camera features relate to your photography and why, when, and how to use them.
National Geographic Photography Field Guide
The other is the National Geographic Photography Field Guide, second edition, by Peter Burian and Robert Caputo. About the first half of this book is a concise overview of equipment issues, written with an emphasis on the results, not the gadget-factor, and chock-a-block with example photos to demonstrate the difference between one piece of equipment and another. The rest of the book consists of short chapters on specific photography subject types and profiles of NG photographers. The book actually reads a lot like an issue of NG, and I think that's a good thing. This book includes advice on how to interact favorably with the people you'll meet while traveling and how to keep an eye out for a compelling subject.
Recommendation by Lagged2Death
They also have Field Guides on Digital Photography, People & Portraits, Landscapes, and maybe more. All are recommended.
Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
An outstanding book which has been recommended many many times by a number of people here. It's not the first book to get since it won't cover everything about the camera. But it is a thorough beginner's book, and not overly technical. This is probably the most recommended book I found in my search.
Mastering Digital Photography
Mastering Digital Photography is by far the best book that on digital photography that I have read and I constantly go back to it. It is the best nuts and bolts digital photography and general photography book I have. This book does what I wished the others had done. From this book I actually began to understand the process of general photography. I have read "film photography" books in order to understand the basics of photography, but I always felt ripped off because half of the book did not apply to me. This book is very current. It was published in 2004. This is one of the problems with some other books. If it is 2yrs. old it might as well be the Rosetta Stone. It has an outstanding section on lighting. The best thing that I like about the book is the "Pro Tips". Throughout the book there are boxes of text labeled "Pro Tips" that cut to the chase and explain how to do, what the "Pros" do. If the book was just the "Pro Tips" it would be worth the price. If you have not figured it out yet. This is the book to buy. I will go out on a limb and say, every non-pro should buy this book.
Recommendation by robekert
Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography
I highly recommend Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography by Rick Sammon. I am new to Canon digital photography and Photoshop. Rick uses both, and the book is pretty darn complete for the beginner. I'm sure there's a few hints for the intermediate to advanced as well. At nearly 500 pages I felt I got my money's worth.
Recommendation by stevekwiz
The A-Z Of Creative Photography by Lee Frost
This book has one short chapter on each of over 70 different special techniques or project ideas. For example, there's a section on stained glass windows, a section on colored flash light, a section on floodlit buildings, etc. Each section offers not general photography advice, but tips specific to the subject or situation the chapter is about. This isn't meant to turn the reader into an expert at any particular technique, it's intended to show the reader something new to try, with enough advice to get started, and in that capacity, it works. Probably 80% of the sections are as applicable to digital as to film.
Recommendation by Lagged2Death
Digital Photographer's Handbook by Tom Ang
My Mom bought me this on for my birthday. It is a pretty good all around book discussing everything from equipment, techniques, effects and post processing. Give it a shot!
Recommendation by Chris1le
Digital Photography For Dummies
If this is your first camera (of any type?) you may want to look at Digital Photography For Dummies. It explains things in a very basic manner, and may help you get up to speed quickly. Despite the name, and my 30+ years of photographic experience, I bought it when I became serious about digital. I believe there is an Idiot's Guide as well. Either one will get you on track with camera basics and the essential elements of photography quickly.
Recommendation by CoolToolGuy