Last week I discovered a couple of eBooks that Microsoft is offering for free to registered users of the Express editions of Visual Basic and C#. The free books are provided as pdf files and you can also buy the print versions. The books are Microsoft Visual Basic 2008 Express Edition: Build a Program Now! and Microsoft Visual C# 2008 Express Edition: Build a Program Now! Here's the description from the web site:
This fun and highly visual guide walks you through a complete programming project—a desktop weather-reporting application—from start to finish. You’ll learn how to put the lightweight, easy-to-use tools in Visual Basic Express to work right away—creating, compiling, testing, and delivering your first ready-to-use program. You’ll get expert tips, coaching, and visual examples at each step of the way, along with pointers to additional learning resources.
I downloaded the Visual Basic version and looked at it briefly. I'm not sure it's the best for a brand new programmer but for someone that's programmed before (VBA or VB 6) but is new to .Net and Visual Studio I think it can be useful as an introduction to those tools and some of the new language features. You definitely can't beat the price.
Here's the initial link to download it: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/beginner/default.aspx. You'll need to log in to get any further and then look in the lower right-hand corner for a link to the books.