You have fore sight, in that you will get varied answers.
As already suggested:
THE NEW COMPLETE SAILING MANUAL
By Steve Sleight
I received it as a present, read it, and keep referring to it. I also highly recommend it.
While it does not cover every topic in detail, it covers most things adequately and concisely, in its 448 pages. Most Chapters are 4 pages, with many diagrams and pictures explaining the concepts.
It was a gift, but the jacket of the Hardcover says $35.00 USD \ $45.00 Canada
The jacket states: "Discover more at: www.dk.com"; and I must do that.
This one will not teach you how to sail, but help you immensely while doing so:
BOATERS POCKET REFERENCE
By Thomas McEwan
This book hails from inland, Littleton CO, across town from my Denver Metro Area; Denver Colorado USA. Do not let the inland part be of distraction. This is jam packed with Marine, Nautical, Sailor, Mathematical, Electrical, Mechanical, and more Data. It fits in your shirt or hip pocket.
It is not intended to be read cover to cover. It is intended as a reference. It is technical in nature. It was the first sailing book I bought.
....So I'm a bit different than most, I had to figure out and prove to myself why boats float,
and how things work....
but it was a good purchase and worth the buck$$.
Further along, when you consider and study cruising:
WORLD CRUISING ROUTES 5th Edition
Companion to World Cursing Handbook (Another Book)
By Jimmy Cornell
$49.95 USD / $78.95 CAN
Continuously updated at: www.noonsite.com
When I first became smitten with sailing, the very first books I bought had little to do directly with sailing. I started with amateur "HAM" radio books, and which occupy a fair portion of my sailing refences, which occupies a fair portion of my total library, which is WAY to large to take along cruising.
GOOD GRIEF, if I had the original purchase price of my books, I could afford two yachts! I have to start re-thinking this.... Maybe if I siliconed them all together and water proofed them.... I will have to get back you on this....