I am firmly of the opinion that, if you want to do something new, the first thing you need is a book about it. Aren't books great? There are so many about any given subject that you can spend your entire time reading about it rather than doing it - and then spend even longer wondering which of the many differing opinions are actually correct!
I went through a number of volumes when I starting baking bread. Most of them spend spend a couple of pages on tools and technique, and then have pages and pages of alternate recipes. For someone like me, starting from a knowledge base of zero, this was frustrating. Eventually I found some I liked; these are the books to which I return regularly. Both have plenty of recipes for you to try, but more importantly, they have useful information about the process.
- Bread (River Cottage Handbook No. 3) by Daniel Stevens (2009)
- Far and away the best book about actually baking bread. It starts with nearly forty pages of detailed steps about how to make bread: how to knead, how to make the dough into a ball and loads of other small things that I have never seen covered in any other book. For a beginner, it is invaluable. If this much information makes bread-making sound complicated, then don't be disheartened; it's all easily learned and understood. If I only had one book on bread, this would be it.
- The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard (2004)
- A bit of cult hit in baking circles, this is on my list for two reasons. First is his revelation that ten minutes of kneading is unnecessary; and second is his milk loaf recipe, which is a family favourite in our house. He has a lot of information about using a starter for sourdough-style breads, and covers bread in many different countries too.
Finally, a special mention has to go to Elizabeth David's classic English Bread And Yeast Cookery (1977). If you're interested in a really definitive work, including the history and culture around the subject, you can't do better than this.