Understanding Photography by Bryan Peterson. If you're a beginner, like I am, and want to learn more about the basics of making good pictures, I think this is a great place to start (well, your camera manual should really probably be the first place to start, then this book). I've checked out a few books from the library and read bits and pieces of some online on Safari, but I think this one is the best for my purposes. It covers all the basics in a concise, understandable way. It explains the fundamentals of the camera and how it works, the importance of understanding aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to achieve the correct exposure, and how to use your camera in manual mode properly and effectively. It also gives you all kinds of tips on how to achieve certain goals like shooting in low-light situations, using different lenses for different purposes, and composing a good image. And it's filled with great examples in each chapter. This book is not just for people with dSLRs but also for people with digital point and shoot cameras. The first few chapters might be the most important because they cover how to use your camera's settings (or rather what the settings are and what they do).
If you decide to get this book, do be sure to read your camera manual first and have it with you when you read the book. You might be a little lost without it. To some people it might seem like a no-brainer to say that, but if you're like me, manuals are just pretty boring, and I usually toss them in a drawer (or hand them to Andrew to read, who always reads manuals). I didn't peek into our camera's manual for more than a year after we had it, which was really silly.
Above is one of my favorite pictures even though it's actually not a very good picture. When zoomed in, it's really noisy (grainy) because I had the ISO quite high, but I still love the colors and the light and the contrast of the metal lockers with the old chair. It's one of my favorite pictures that I took in a restaurant in Atlanta, whose name I like just as much--Sun in my Belly.
Okay, now go get that book! Oh, and I almost forgot, Bryan Peterson has a lot of other photography books as well, and what looks like some great online classes through his photography school.