But I want to be read up by the time I'm ready to hit the gym in December, so it's a forgivable evil if I buy a copy, right?
It's just a sore point with me...I guess it's not so different from taking the book out of the library to read it, but at least then someone paid for the copy. I actually had a friend of mine illegally download a copy of something I wrote. I was pretty annoyed...I mean, author income on books is generally pretty low without your friends gyping you out of royalties! Only the best-sellers make anything, and very few of them make enough to live off of.
The other point I'd make is the second edition is apparently a big improvement. I've only read the second edition, and it's a useful book.
It all really boils down to WHY are you playing with the iron. There really isn't one size fits all.
I agree with you here, Tim. I'd put it this way - there isn't one size fits all, but there are some programs which give you a better start than others. Starting Strength isn't going to be all things to all people, but for someone starting out, or someone looking to regain form and strength on the big lifts, it's a good one. It's simple, to the point, doesn't require a lot of gear, and helps build good habits (liking squatting and deadlifting often!).
So that why I say it's a good way to go. So are the other routines in the sticky; so is Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength (if you've got access to a lot more than a bench and a rack), a friend of mine has had excellent results on New Rules of Lifting (ditto, need lots of toys), and I'm sure doing well getting back up to and beyond my previous strength on Westside for Skinny Bastards. I'd just say if you're looking to get strong, don't want to deal with a lot of exercises or gear, and stick to the basics, Starting Strength is a pretty simple one.
It's not the only way to go, but it's not a bad way to go for that!