Why do some people on APUG suggest to beginners in photographic processing that they read Ansel Adams? This is a bit like suggesting that those who wish to take up woodwork study Thomas Chippendale.
I don't know of any two books; The Negative and The Print that are as comprehensive as the Adams series. Many excellent illustrations to show the beginner what a good negative or print looks like. Should we assume that newbies are complete dunderheads or are incapable of understanding a good textbook? These are books that are worth the investment whereas simpler ones are soon worthless as one becomes more experienced.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.