I'm thinking of buying a good general woodworking book (I'm a relative amateur). I'm trying to make a choice between Robert Wearing's "Essentials of Woodworking" and Paul Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2 - The Artisan Course". Tom Fidgen's "The Unplugged Workshop" is another possible option, as is Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker". I intend to work mostly with hand tools. I already have "Hand Tools", by Aldren Watson. Which one would you recommend?
If you're only buying one, get either Tolpin's "New Traditional Woodworker" or Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2. The best way to decide which is to read a bit and see how you like their style (and then buy both). Personally, I lean slightly towards Paul Sellers' book, but either one is a good way to get started.
Here are my thoughts on comparison of the two:
1) Tolpin has a lot of general information, but I felt like he fell down a little on specifics of what to buy. Sellers was pretty clear: "go buy this tool, it will do the job." Depending on how you feel about his choices, that can be good or bad.
2) Tolpin has a lot more projects, but they're all shop oriented. If you follow along, you'll wind up with some good shop tools and appliances, but not much else. Sellers doesn't do much at all in the way of shop tools, but does walk you through building a stool, a dovetailed box, and a hanging shelf unit. Which you prefer is up to you: I don't think either one is objectively "better".
3) Tolpin's book is very readable. It's fairly conversational, and I think he tried (and succeeded) in managing a "we're all learning this together" style, which I liked. Paul Sellers is... somewhat didactic. Unlike many of today's woodworking writers, he was a professional woodworker for something like 40 years before he started writing and teaching. I personally like his writing style, and I find that his methods work well for me, but it may not work for you. That's fine... if you hate his writing, go read someone else. There's plenty more out there.
Honestly, neither one is a bad choice. I think if I HAD to recommend one book, and give a reason for it, it would be Paul Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2". The piece that, for me, pushes the balance in his favor is that a lot of what he talks about he has also shown on YouTube. So if you're having trouble working out how he sharpens a chisel, you can just go look at his YouTube stream and find the video.
If I were recommending three books, they'd probably be those two, plus "The Anarchist's Tool Chest", by Christopher Schwartz. His sense of humor is questionable, and he gets a little too definite on his ways of doing things, but the information on how to pick tools is stellar.