Last spring I went through 10 or so personal finance books, mostly beginnging stuff, and here are the two I purchased, given to friends, and have re-read.
I find Jane Bryant Quinn to have all of the saavy but less of the abraisiveness (and catch-phrasy-ness) of other popular financial advisors. Her book is a really great book to get started, but much more intelligent than the comparable books out there. I found its advise to be very reasonable and what I was looking for, and as the title suggests, it did not instruct me to put cash into envelopes as a method of budgeting.
I really do not want to pick up day-trading, and I don't want to spend all my times reading Forbes (yuck) trying to pick up last years trendy mutual funds. He speaks to those goals quite nicely, and after going through this in detail, I'm going with several index funds. I found it to be nice that he goes into detail about the main choices, which let me translate the information into action quite easily. That always seems to be the hard part ... taking the investment advise and then actually DOING it.
As a disclaimer, these were both first published quite a while ago, but the practices are fairly general and I didn't find them outdated. I suspect the first book to be very helpful to any location, although the investment book may be more geared toward US investors.