Everyone has their favorite books and practitioner/teachers on this board. For me Barnbaum's book opened the floodgates in terms of understanding how to utilize black and white negative film's wide dynamic range to the greatest effect through zone placement and compensating development (N-1, N, N+1). It made a real difference for me. I have the original version, which relayed a ton of information with virtually no pictures; the new version is updaed and probably even easier to follow.

I would note again that others on this board, most of whom are more experienced than I am, will surely recommend other books. One of APUG's MVP contributors is Ralph Lambrecht. Although I don't have his book, "Way Beyond Monochrome", most here will certainly agree that it's one of the most comprehensive and helpful books on the market. Ralph is also an incredible source of help here, so if you have questions on something, he's likely to answer them. Best of luck to you whatever you read and, more importantly, with whatever you photograph.