What you really want to do is find a general "how to" guide that explains not just how to operate the camera but which helps you understand both taking of images and processing them. A book that covers recommended settings and what they do along with processing features (workflow, working with layers, etc.) will provide the basics.
The specialty books for the most part repeat the same basic principles and applications, albeit in the context of the particular topic. Sometimes, even if repetitive of basic principles, they are worth buying if the images themselves are inspirational to you.
Which brings me to the main point: mastering basic techniques only teaches you how to take a technically acceptable picture. The books featuring histories of photography or the work of individual photographers provide context and help you to see what has survived critical and popular acclaim. In my opinion, the more of these books you read and the more you understand about photography as an art form, the more your eye improves.
There are numerous authors that feature regularly and some write more practically than others. Some take you step by step through an application; others seem to write the same book over and over, changing the title and shifting the focus a bit but showcasing their own photographs more than providing new insight.
If I had to mention one author that I found clear and informative, it would be Lee Frost.
In one of the first books I bought, he simply suggested projects such as photographing the taxi cabs in each city. This book helped me focus and provide a discipline that has served me well in travel photography. I learned to create series of images around topics, and that helped me to avoid being overwhelmed in new places when I had limited time.
After all these years, I still try to shoot taxis. Here is one in Mexico City.