are both very good general resources.
Investments is a very broad approach that covers a lot of markets and basics and how things work. Very accessible to complete beginners.
The Hull is an introductory text and a great reference source to keep handy. You'll need to be slightly mathy to get it, but I suspect most HN readers will feel at home.
But for a really thorough discussion of those details check Investments by Bodie, Kane and Marcus (http://www.amazon.com/Investments-Zvi-Bodie/dp/007293414X/re...). My corporate finance prof encouraged me to look into it, then it was required reading for an economics course I took later. I understand it's the standard-bearer in most finance departments, so there's no going wrong if you're willing to work through the technical parts.
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