Warning - RC airplanes are addictive, fun, and complicated.
Just about any other hobby, besides creating a lifelike robotic companion to keep you company, is easier and simpler. However, for those of us who love it, RC flying is what we want to do, no matter what it takes.
So, we need to educate ourselves! We need to study, to become experts at this, so that we can extract the maximum enjoyment for the minimum investment of money and time. Some of us have a mentor, a friend or relative who knows everything about RC and is willing to teach. These saintlike individuals do exist, but unfortunately, most of us don't have one in our neighborhood. For the rest of us, the mentor-less, we need resources. Let's talk about the best ones:
Books on building
There are a lot of skills and techniques to learn in this hobby. With the advent of really, really good ARF aircraft, many people think building skills aren't needed any more. Not true. Now, they are repairing skills. Repairing takes even more skill than building, because you have to invent just the piece you need to fill in whatever is missing. So, to be able to maintain your fleet of 3DHobbyShop over the long run, a little building skill goes a long way. Here are the books I recommend:
There Are No Secrets by Harry Higley
The title sounds like something out of the X-files, and the book is massively out-of-date...but you need to read it! This is the book on basic woodworking and basic covering/finishing. If you absorb the relevant sections of this book, I guarantee you will be able to handle all the typical repairs on balsa ARF aircraft, and they will look right and fly well afterwards. Ignore the sections on glue, thankfully we now have a wide selection of CA and Polyurethane adhesives that solve all of those problems.
Tom's Techniques by Tom Ingram
The book for teaching basic covering techniques. Absorb this, and you will be able to re-cover an ARF in a factory-quality color scheme of your own, and easily handle any covering repairs you need to. These Higley books are printed very cheaply, but chock-full of good stuff.
Building Techniques by Randy Randolph
A great collection of, exactly as the title says, model building techniques. Absorb this, and you'll be ready to build new sections and structures when you need to. A great confidence-builder for flying low!
Book on flying
Before we can learn to fly a maneuver, we need to understand that maneuver. If you don't have a personal champion aerobatic coach, a good book is the place to start.
RCPilotGuide by Scott Stoops
There are other books about learning to fly RC...but if you want to progress from soloing up to advanced aerobatics as smoothly as possible, get this one. Scott knows what he's talking about, and knows the pitfalls you'll encounter. Get it, you won't be sorry.