I create my own lesson worksheets and song charts for students, which in essence builds you your own “book” customized to your needs, but it can also be nice to have additional reading. Here are some recommendations from my library:
Guitar From Scratch (Bruce Emery)
Simply the best book I’ve found for helping complete beginners learn chords in a straightforward, organized and musical way.
The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook
Once you know your basics, a Beatles fan can have endless fun turning to any page in here. I love books like this that lay out the entire song on two facing pages, with chord symbols. No piano arrangements, no page turns required, just the lyrics and where to switch chords. This book is unique in that it gives capo suggestions.
Hal Leonard Guitar Chord Songbooks
Inexpensive and straightforward. They make books on individual artists (Adele, Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Green Day, etc) and also anthologies of folk-rock, country, classic rock, worship music, and more. Note: you’ll probably want to take your copy to Staples and have them cut the spine off and put in a spiral binding so it lays open.
A Modern Method For Guitar (William J Leavitt)
Want to learn to read music on guitar? Start here. It’s a series created for the guitar program at Berklee School of Music.
New England Fiddlers Repertoire, (Miller & Perron)
Learn to pick some fiddle tunes and go play at your local contra dance slow jam! Also provides chord symbols so you can strum along while others fiddle. You gotta be able to read music to use this, but the tunes are short and catchy. Once you start, it’s addictive. Eventually, you’ll also want The Portland Collection and The Waltz Book.
How To Play Jazz and Improvise (Aebersold Vol. 1)
Not just for jazz fans. Theory basics and improvisation are important for everybody. Aebersold provides straightforward instructions, musical exercises and a play-along CD for jamming (!!!) As you progress, you can pick up additional volumes for more tunes and topics.
The Advancing Guitarist, Mick Goodrick
For intermediate to advanced players. Deceptively simple, often witty, conceptual suggestions that will turn your mind completely inside out and change they way you look at the guitar. Addresses fretboard mechanics, scales, harmony, and ways of thinking about improvising.
Recorded Versions & Transcriptions
For intermediate players who are comfortable reading tab, invest in the accurate, official transcription books of your favorite albums. It can be slow going, but amazing insights await. They’re maybe $20 each, and you’ll be digesting this stuff bit by bit for years.
I recommend getting spiral binding put in on any music book that’s over a quarter-inch thick. Your local printing and photocopy shop can do it for around $6 per book and it allows the book to lay open in front of you without closing accidentally.