by G. Harry Stine and Bill Stine
This should be the first book you get as a rocketeer. Written originally by the late G. Harry Stine, one of the founding fathers of model rocketry, it is now up to its seventh edition, with updates by Stine's son Bill.
This book covers all the basic topics of model rocketry - building, safety, aerodynamics, staging, clusters, motors... It goes into some of the mathematics of rocket science and gives a terrific grounding in what you need to know to better understand how rockets work and how to get best results from them.
by Mike Westerfield
The author starts you out making match-stick rockets and air rockets out of soda straws, and goes on to cover the basics of rocketry, much of which is similar to what you'll find in The Handbook. But he guides you through the construction of several original designs, using component parts, rather than kits. He shows how to make your own ground support equipment, including launch pads and launch controllers - both single and multiple-pad versions, if you want to make something larger for a club or school project. By the end of the book, you should feel confident that you can design and build your own rockets, if you wish to, and don't necessarily need to stick with buying kits.
The author is working on a second book, Make: High Power Rockets, due out some time in early 2016.