Adam McA., a friend of this site, recommended a book he thinks is a good instruction manual for beginner and casual photographers. So we ordered a copy, and, true to his prediction, How To Photograph Your Life by Nick Kelsh is indeed unusually good.
Technical how-to books are thick on the ground, and they are helpful…technically. But what many beginners and casual photographers want to know is what makes better pictures and how they can take them. That's where Kelsh excels. He uses as examples more than 40 everyday family situations, shows an average amateur snapshot that attempts to capture the occasion (you'll probably recognize a few of these—we did), and then explains, clearly and concretely, how to conceive, organize, and make a much better one. It's a book about how to see pictures, rather than just how to work your camera. Especially if you're just starting out, you'll learn a lot from this book.
A 2003 title, this is probably near the end of its in-print life. If you're interested, better order it now.