What books & authors would you all suggest for a workout beginner to read (not just lifting, but working out in general)?
anything by tony little
Depends on your goals. From scrawny to brawny(John Berardi and Michael Mejia) is a great book about getting bigger and stronger and covers a lot of aspects of lifting and eating including what lifts are best for size and strength, preventive and rehabilitive exercises, proper nutrition and supplementation. That and it isn't very expensive. Snoop around on this site. There is a tremendous amount of information on all aspects on improving athleticism.
Truthfully, I think you can find everything you need to form a solid foundation of workout knowledge on this website. I have a three ring binder full of articles I print out from here.
Book-wise, The New Rules of Lifting by Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler is very good. It has a no bullshit approach to training with some good programs and basic nutritiion information.