I'm trying to break into the Autodesk realm and a quick search on amazon shows about 10 different books to choose from
I was wondering if anyone out there had any suggestions/recommendations for books or other resources for total beginners
I suggest you start with the tutorials which come with Max, or are on the Max Area website. You can get a slow start with the simple ones (learning the Max interface and shortcut keys is HUGELY important), then as you build your confidence, you can delve into the more advanced stuff (some of these tutorials can burn 5 hours or more of your time). And don't do them just once - repetition is the key to holding on to the techniques, some of which are downright non-intuitive, but essential to the learning curve. Good luck, from a 3D Studio user who's been working on it for over five years, and has about five percent of the features down.