I am currently reading "the KGB plays chess"
@a_pleasant_illusion I have just seen Watson review of "... think later "book. For the moment that seems like a book I would like to focus on.
I am still curious about this topic.
Here's what I would recommend:
Good Beginner Books:
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
The Game of Chess by Tarrasch
Controversial Chess Books:
The System: A World Champions Approach to Chess.
The author claims that playing 1.d4 leads to a forced win for White.
Chernev's book is superb. Also recommend "Simple Chess" by Michael Stean
www.amazon.com/Chess-Mysteries-Sherlock-Holmes-Recreational/dp/0486482014 This is the best chess book ever written! Its like math problems but with chess moves.
If the focus is on "for a beginner" I actually wouldn't recommend books in the first place. A beginner IMO should just play a lot of games, and then analyze them later with opponents, engine or a coach. You need to play a lot of games to get some feel of the game, THEN you can work on "the details".
The problem I have with Silman is that he seems to think that you just need to follow some list of steps to get to the right move. And that's simply not how chess works. Not only that some moves he shows are bad, but the concept alltogether is flawed, and also pretty dangerous IMO.
Chess RAM Rashid Ziyatdinov
Silman is lightyears overrated. He explains every positions with one million words in hindsight. Yeah, this rings all true. But it doesn't help you next time in foresight.
Read MFTL and you know why Silman is the pied-piper gathering beginners but is no good for the experienced.
PS: I should add that the examples are good though. But the controversial words... If there's a decisive situation you should take your time to find the win in all other cases you should be more pragmatic. True, but this helps only like looking in the rear mirror.
"Mein System" by Aaron Nimzowitsch (The German original or some translation) is clearly the book you are looking for. It is still very good, it is suitable for a beginner, it is very well written.
Other books that qualify are
"La méthode aux échecs" (in French) by former USSR and French champion Iossif Dorfman ISBN 2-9512890-0-6, where he outlines his own method and criticizes Nimzowitsch
and "Universal Chess: the Search For Truth And Beauty" by Richard Moody 1999 very controversial, he claims pieces should always stay behind pawns, he also criticizes Nimzowitsch, the author is not a strong player, but has many original ideas and shows high intelligence
Why is that book relevant if he's not a strong player? I might as well make some weird claims to have a "controversial book".
I don't think buying a book from a non titled player is worth it (for the chess content anyway; if it's a very entertaining book it might be worth it of course).
As mentioned before, My System clearly is a book one should read at some point, but not for a beginner. (I think one should have at least 1500 FIDE or so to really understand it)
A book that I read when I was younger (and much weaker) is "Tigersprung auf 1500" by Arthur Yussupow. (not sure whether there's an english version for that)