If you want to stop playing around and learn C, buy the Bible: The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie. K&R 2nd Edition is the only book you really need for ANSI C, and it gives important info for dealing with that obscure K&R code you’ll come across in any environment. The C described in K&R is platform-independent and not subject to licensing nonsense. Microsoft can play games with C# or the .NET platform or the execrable joke Basic but it can’t touch C, C++, or Objective-C. Those languages are used by professionals to do real work.
Of course, just reading about a language isn’t going to do it. You must program, and for that you need Linux. Microsoft Windows just can’t cut it: It does not offer memory protection, a feature of all real OSes, and that is necessary in C. A misplaced pointer, or an overflowing buffer, should not crash your OS, and those mistakes (oh yes, you will make memory mistakes) will bring MS-Windows to its knees. Linux has always had memory protection.
Secondly, Linux has inherited all of the UNIX programming tools, and those tools are heavily bent towards the C programmer. gcc, the best compiler on any platform, is actively developed on Linux. It is free of charge and nonsense licensing, and it comes with any Linux distro. emacs, the only programmer’s text editor worth mention, is also a Linux tool. The tools alone are worth the (low) price of admission.
C# will be a bad memory in 10 years, when Bill Gates is panhandling outside a city full of Linux shops. Basic has always been a teaching language, a dumbed-down FORTRAN designed so students can’t hurt themselves. C, however, will still be in active use, and those versed in it will be in active demand.
Take a long look at the state of software today: Everyone but Microsoft is using UNIX, including that former toy company Apple, and the programming language of UNIX is plain C. The main UNIX programming tool is gcc, the GNU Compiler Collection, which evolved directly from the GNU C Compiler. Microsoft, with Palladium, DRM, and other foolishness, is driving away its business users, and it will drive away Joe User once its DRM conflicts with CD burning. Linux has been poised to take over for five years, but only recently has that coincided with so many mistakes on Microsoft’s part.
Learn C. It will serve you no matter where you go.