Aw come on, Phil’s not that bad. But you’re right not to bother with his books, not because he’s a punk but because he’s frankly a terrible writer.
Are there variations that you’re more interested in than others? I’m assuming hold 'em because everyone says hold 'em; any interest in other games? Also, limit or NL?
Super/System is rightly known as the Bible. The only problem with it is that it’s been around for so long that anyone who plays seriously has read it and knows if you’re playing by it. Which doesn’t mean it’s not worth a read. haven’t read S/S 2, but others who have indicate there’s a fair amount of rehashed material from S/S.
Sklanskey’s book is rightly regarded as another must-read. I have to admit though that I’ve been trying to get through it for close to a year and haven’t made it yet. Not really sure why that is, because I’ve learned from it in my attempts to read it.
My first hold 'em book was The Complete Book of Hold 'Em Poker, by Gary Carson. It does a very good job of covering the basics, including the mathematics of the game.
Lee Jones’ low limit hold 'em book is another that comes highly recommended, although I haven’t read it yet.
T.J. Cloutier’s book on NL and PL tourneys is widely regarded as the best tournament book. I haven’t read it but since he’s considered the best tournament player in the world I imagine it has some good things to say.
If magazine subscriptions are available through Amazon, you might consider subscribing to Card Player. Tons of good information in every issue, both on strategy and general news of the poker world.