Since the holidays are right around the corner you’re probably going to need to really brush up on the workings of that digital SLR that aunt Maude gave you months ago and that you never got the chance to use.
Well once you do that, I suggest you pick up the book “The Digital Photography Book” by Scott Kelby.
Scott Kelby pretty much wrote the book on writing photography books that cut right to the chase of what you need to know to turn those cheesy snap shots into really good shots. In this particular book you will learn much more than the complex workings of your SLR. You will learn how to compose shots, which settings to use for every type of subject, and why you should love an overcast day. And yes, he will show you how to use that bar graph-looking thing called a histogram.
You will learn all this with the minimum of effort because (as in all of his books) Scott Kelby does what he is known for, which is writing like he’s there next to you, instructing you and giving you ONLY the information you want and need to know to improve the shot. No technical speak, no talking down to you, no pie-in-the-sky goals you'll never reach. You'll get just what you need to know to get better shots.
The book is a mere pocket book so every page is filled with information you will use sooner or later. Additionally, he tells you where to buy the camera add-ons you might want and gives the price for each. Even if you use a simple point-n-shoot and not an SLR, this book will help you take better shots.
This book was so successful that he wrote second and third volumes of it. I don’t mean an updated reprint of this book, I mean two new books with new and more in-depth information should you care to go there.
But since the holidays are so close and you’ve yet to do any shopping I suggest you start with this basic, necessary, and enjoyable book. Once the holiday is over and you’ve gotten all the shots really right, you’ll be so into photography that you’ll pick up the second and third versions sometime in January.
Please, check out my photography galleries on Flickr for results I've gotten with the help of Scott's books!