Socrates Cafe is a philosophy book wrapped in the trappings of a novel. Christopher Phillips is the author, and he recounts his efforts to take the ideas of Socrates and the method of dialectic discussion to whomever and wherever he can. College campuses, coffee houses, schools, prisons, and private homes where people gather. His stories are engaging and he showcases Socratic thought interpreted for modern times. It is available from Amazon for under $10 in paperback, or under $9 for the Kindle. I'm sure it will be at your local library. If you only read one book in this list, I recommend that this would be the one.
The Big Questions: A short introduction to philosophy by Robert Solomon is a college textbook style review of philosophical thought, organized generally into the major fields of thought: What is the meaning of life? Is there a god? What is the nature of reality? What is truth? Who are we as individuals? What is freedom? What is morality and the good life? What is Justice? How does philosophy impact our ideas of sex, race, and culture? Each of these topics is covered through some direct discussion by the author with reviews of relevant philosophers and their writings. I find his style easy to read, and the info to be well presented. (My copy is copyrighted 1998. I see on Amazon that there are more recent versions, sometimes with an additional author, Kathleen Higgens. I expect this newer one to be essentially the same, maybe with some additional info.)
For practical exercises in philosophical thinking, you can't beat The Philosophy Gym by Stephen Law (available as paperback and Kindle versions). He lays out 25 topics and couches them in layman's terms, presenting opposing perceptions or ideas and points out fallacies in thinking, contradictions, false interpretations, etc., to get the reader thinking. He also rates the topics as Warm UP, Moderate, or Challenging to indicate their degree of difficulty. I like to use his format for BQ since it is a short read, clearly identifies the ideas you need to cover, and often leaves the topic open ended at the conclusion of the session - no Big Answers!
There are many more great books for beginners. Sophie's World is a great read, and lots of fun along the way. The other 2 books by Phillips, The Six Questions of Socrates, and Socrates in Love. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I recommend reading The Republic, by Plato. It can seem a bit pedantic at times but it helps to get the banter into your head, to listen to the back and forth of dialectic.
And of course everyone needs an anthology of philosophy so you can read the original writings of a philosopher you like, or who strongly influenced whatever topic you are studying. Fortunately these anthologies are generally not expensive, are very big, and contain huge amounts of information but are not usually very well organized. I have several on my shelf, and you can read them when you visit, if you like.