I'm not sure if there is anything around today that is quite like the Studio Vista series of design books published in the 60s. There weren't all that many design books to choose from then, but these were fairly affordable, accessibly written and stocked by our local bookshop - I bought several of them while still at school, and they did a lot to lure me into graphic design.
Here are the ones that survive on my bookshelf - I also remember having Norman Potter's What is a designer, and John Lewis's Typography: basic principles.
Ken Garland's Graphics handbook was the one that had the most influence on me - it was too early for me to really get the more philosophical books such as Pye or Potter, but Ken's book provided an uncomplicated toolbox, covering everything from semiotics to international paper sizes in just 90-odd pages. And it does have a philosophy, demonstrated through its scope, its timeless layout, and a wonderful preface, which Ken printed in enormous type in the hope it would be read.
I mentioned the influence his book had on me recently to Ken (who I had the immense good fortune to be taught by), and I recalled the photo of him on the back. He pointed out that the book was written so long ago that the little girl he is holding here is now 50.