These books are really good for beginners but are also interesting for intermediate as well. The author writes like he is walking with you and basically gives you an 'assignment' in each chapter.
One assignment might be to photograph action and he'll tell you how to set it up and then you got and do it and explore the parameters.
I've recommended them before and think they are an affordable investment. I think I found mine for $5 each at a discount book store.
Amazon.com: The Digital Photography Book: Scott Kelby: Books
Amazon.com: The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2: Scott Kelby: Books