Re: General Self Help Books
While I am in Australia, rather than in North America where I assume you are, I have a copy of Automotive Technology – A systems Approach Erjavec J and Scharff R Delmar Publishing Inc on my shelf. It’s a good general text that will give you a good basic understanding of auto mechanics/
It is a text book often used in TAFE’s (Trade Schools) here and it on par with most similar used by apprentice mechanics. I picked my copy a cheap with several similar books at a Dymocks “Brain food Sale” a few years ago. Of this type of book I prefer Mitchell’s Automechanics Mitchell Information Services Inc Prentice Hall New Jersey as it has a chattier style that gives it a feel its written by a single knowledgeable person rather than a committee of trade lecturers (though in fact the reverse seems to be the situation ie Mitchells is written by a committee). If it’s like Australia the local trade school will have both a book shop selling this and similar texts and perhaps also a second hand bookshop where you can pick up last years edition of this and similar books at a bargain price.
I don't appear to have a copy of How Cars Work (I tend to hoard automotive books so can't be totally certain but it doesn't ring a bell) so I can't comment on that one.