I heard "Linux in a nutshell" is good.
Though, I never ever used a book. I just chose a Distro and used the internet as a resouce to learn from.
I wont say I'm an expert, but I can say that I have installed a couple of different distributions, got web browsing, email, multimedia players, skype, CD/DVD burning, you name it all working.
If you need help choosing a distro, I found this to be quite a good little wizard that helps you choose a suitable distro:
If you want my reccommendation on which distro to use (everyone here has an opinion on which distro is good):
I'd say Ubuntu is very good for someone who just wants to install Linux and have something that they can use.
Otherwise, if you would like a challange, try installing Debian 3.1 and build from there. You will have to install x-windows, a desktop and so on yourself, but you will learn a lot too.
I started with Debian 3.1 and later decided to use Ubuntu. From my time spent using Debian 3.1, I certainly appreciate the work that has gone into Ubuntu.