This little project started out as something from work. I was trying to find ways to get away from propitary software for a database we use. I ended up with my own little WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server. I got everything to work fine, but realized that I needed to know a lot more about HTML to make everything look right.
Well, I was actually years behind. I needed to know about XHTML and CSS. The XHTML I had heard of, but had never heard of Cascading Style Sheets. So off I went on trips to the library and to Amazon. Found some good books and some bad apples, so I thought I'd share the good ones.
Head First HTML & CSS is one of the best learning tools I have ever read. Very clear style, lots of examples, and they expect you to follow along. I'm a very "Learn by doing" person, so I really enjoyed the style of this book. It would make a great textbook.
After reading and following through the previous book, you really only need a couple of good reference guides. O'Reilly press makes two inexpensive books that work fine. CSS Pocket Reference, 3rd Edition and HTML and XHTML Pocket Reference, 4th Edition are great to look up rarely used tags and so forth that might come in handy. Both those were heavily used when designing these pages.
I've decided that Web Design in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition which is by the same author of the HTML and XHTML Pocket Reference, is the one that stays by the computer. It is the one that gets the post-it notes and the dog-eared pages. Great book, not really as a teaching tool, but as a reference.
The current read is Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional. Great program, and I'm slowly making my way through some very advanced features of the program. Photo editing sure has come a long ways since the late 80s and late nights in darkrooms at Texas A&M.
So I have my little validator tags on the bottom of my pages to let me know that all that reading was worth it. And also to let me know I've done it right!