I've recently been reading (and enjoying) Jim Tolpin's The New Traditional Woodworker. Woodworkers are most likely already familiar with him, but if not, check out his work. I can't get enough of his Gypsy Vardos, and wish he would write a book on those... but thats another story.
This book explains why one may want to consider working with hand tools. No surprises here. Its safer, quieter, more fun, and almost as fast as using power tools. He does also mention (also not a surprise) that it can make a lot of sense to hold onto your planer, jointer, and band saw in order to quickly prep large pieces for hand tooling. He then jumps into some great concepts and principles for shop setup and organization, and then steps through a handful of detailed plans for shop appliances. These writeups are carefully detailed to teach woodworking concepts, not just get the project done. I have not built any of them yet, but by reading through them, it is clear that it would be difficult to complete the projects without learning a great deal.
The photography in this book is excellent. Its a real treat to get such clear images of someone else's shop. Its really like stepping into their mind. Little details like the fact that Mr. Tolpin builds radio controlled dunebuggies are as interesting to me as how he has his chisels organized. Don't get me wrong, that is interesting, too!
I might consider Wearing's "Woodworking Essentials" more mandatory for a serious student, but this book is a fantastic overview for someone considering testing the handtool waters, and its inexpensive enough that passionate enthusiasts who already think they know it all will want to grab it as well.
I can't come up with any criticisms other than I wish it were longer. It's plenty meaty as-is, its just one of those great books you wish would go on and on.