Hello. I am a recent graduate who is freelancing in web design. However, I’ve realized that to get better jobs I need to polish my skills in the following:
I am currently considering getting this book:
The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, 2nd Edition
The Sitepoint Ultimate HTML and CSS Reference books are good. They’re obviously supposed to be references so they aren’t only for beginners, but once you get the basics, they’re good (and they also will provide a good reference). I have the hardback ones and will often carry them with me if I’m going on a trip where I’ll have prolonged internet loss to reference. They’re similar to my old favorite recommendation, HTML & CSS: the complete reference.
Principles is also a great book, as is “Sexy Website Design”.
Also, don’t worry about ajax for now; focus on getting your html and css compliant
I love jQuery, however starting with it is probably a bad idea. I think you should have a firm grasp of the basics of a language (any language) before you start using frameworks. If you don’t, you won’t be able to do simple things or debug your errors effectively.