While most brewing books have an obligatory "How to brew" chapter, there are two primary beginner texts for homebrewers.
How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition. It's best read with the companion volume The Homebrewer's Companion
While they both cover a lot of the same information, they have two distinct approaches. Papazian takes a far more artistic, poetic tack. In one of his books, he waxes poetic about a Prickly Pear Mead and how he brews a batch every year. He buries a few bottles at the top of a nearby mountain to be aged by nature.
Palmer takes a more scientific approach and gets to the nuts and bolts.
You get pretty much the same information from both books, with the main difference being the writing style and organization.
I subscribe to two brewing magazines. Zymurgy, edited by Papazian, reflects his attitude towards brewing, while "Brew Your Own" reflects a more Palmer oriented approach, including a series of articles scientifically testing various homebrew traditions and urban legends.