I've been spinning on and off for a few years now, and I still refer back to Hands On Spinning as my primary source. This book originally taught me to spin on a spindle, all by myself, with no teacher. Ms. Raven's instructions allowed me to pick it up quite quickly, and after working a couple of hours with some rough wool, I soon found myself making some very nice silk singles yarn. Later, I had two hours of instruction on a wheel, and used the book at home to help me through those awkward first hours of wheel spinning.
Ms. Raven assumes you know nothing, and provides enough information to cover each topic thoroughly without giving you too much to ponder. Thus the book is not too big, but just big enough. She starts you out by having you roll wool on your lap to twist it into a short length of yarn, which is probably how the first threads were made.
Then she proceeds into the chapter on spindle spinning, which is clearly written and well organized. Moving along, she explains the parts of the spinning wheel, what they do, and how to tension them properly. Her chapter on learning to spin on the wheel is as good a verbal description of how to do this as any I've read. Other chapters include: Fiber Preparation; Drafting and Spinning Techniques; Plying; Finishing, and more. There are numerous diagrams and color photos in this book, plus many simple but attractive projects to start you off. If you are new to spinning this is a wonderful book to begin with.