I've identified four areas for book study: opening, strategy, tactics, endgame. After a long 15+ year break from chess, I feel I need to start with basics and rebuild from there.
OpeningI've always been weak in the opening, causing me to begin the middlegame with an inferior position. I've always been a defensive player but now that I think about it, maybe that was out of necessity, not choice. Perhaps defense is not my natural style of play at all.
I'm ready to rehash my opening repertoire completely. Seeking guidance, I stumbled upon John Watson's Mastering the Chess Openings series. Chapter 9 of Volume 4, titled "Choosing and Preparing Openings", gives general guidelines for the types of openings to study based on a player's general skill level. For beginners, Watson recommends open games that typically result from 1.e4. I will take his advice to heart and explore the Italian Game, Two Knights Defense and other related openings. But before that, an in-depth study of Chapters 1-3 of Mastering the Chess Openings Volume 1 is in order.