I'd like to know whether there are any good step-by-step css layout tutorials that you recommend + what is the best css book?
I found the book Eric Meyer on CSS very helpful.
It takes you step by step from converting existing table based designs to fully CSS sites.
I doubt you can get a solid overall base for layouts in any one book. You can learn basic elements, different positioning strategies and learn how to solve bugs they carry with them, but when you go to make real sites youll find you always have to search for more explanations and bug fixes because most of the stuff can be done in various ways, each with its own pros and cons.
Here are some nice starters and more advanced layout links (read the first one first ):
http://css.maxdesign.com.au/ < mentioned above
more links > http://css-discuss.incutio.com/?page=CssLayouts