I love Cunningham’s books. My mom bought me the Wicca book for me as a gift and that’s really what got me on my path of study. His subsequent books have been helpful to me as well, ever since that first one I picked up at the store and said “Mom, I want this.”
As much as I loathe Fluffy Bunny intro-to-Wicca/Paganism/Magick now, I also think those kinds of books serve a purpose. While Cunningham is not generally considered Fluffy, most of his books are introductory in some fashion. The good thing about these intro texts for beginners and those new to the Pagan paths is that they do cover such a broad array of topics. Newbies can get a feel for what kind of path they might want to follow and then find more specific books after they’ve had an intro to things. It’s like a survey course in college–they’re designed to introduce students to material and then the student can choose a narrower scope to focus on afterward.
Intro texts were helpful to me when I first started. I think Cunningham is the best for both general Pagan and Wiccan texts. His encyclopedias are great for starting out, whether it’s stones, herbs, or other stuff. I would stay away from Ravenwolf, as she seems very Fluffy to me, and she has in at least one book told teenagers it’s acceptable to lie to their parents, but that is a purely personal preference. And if you’re seriously looking for good information, stay away from the books that promote things on their covers like life-altering spells or claim to be able to tell you all about how to make people fall in love with you, cast spells, or brew potions. Yes, we can cast spells and brew potions, but not in the Harry Potter sort of way. Most of the texts that claim these kinds of things are not very good, and they’re really just trying to sell copies to make a buck. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not very helpful to you, the learner.
For best results, look up the book online and read reviews. I’ve found most reviews are pretty balanced and fair, and if there’s something inherently flawed in the book’s contents, people do not hesitate to point it out online, trust me on that! Or go by recommendations from friends, if you know people who are also Pagan.
Be patient when you encounter a newbie or see a Fluffy Bunny book. They do serve a purpose, and remember, most of us went through that Fluffy stage ourselves! Those books were helpful at the time, though they may not be now, and most people grow past that stage where they rely on Fluffy books, or even books in general, for magickal learning.