Sometimes I like to make things because it's cheaper than buying them, and sometimes I like to make things because I can make them better than I can buy. But mainly I like to make things because I just like knowing how. I get a huge kick out of thinking "I can do that" for as wide a range of things as possible. I think that's the reason I love to make soap.
One of my favourite soapmaking books is The Soap Maker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch. It has detailed enough instructions to be excellent as a beginners' book, but also plenty of information that would be of interest to a more experienced soapmaker. It wasn't my first soap making book, but I learned a lot from it that isn't explained anywhere else.
The batch sizes are on the large side, which some beginners might find offputting but in fact large batches are a lot more likely work well than small batches. This is because slight inaccuracies in weighing are more significant in small batches, and they also lose heat quicker than large batches which can lead to problems.
There are no photographs, but I love the quirky line drawings and woodcut-style illustrations. In fact "quirky" is a good word to describe this book, along with "earthy" - two of my favourite adjectives. The recipe names will give you a flavour of what I mean; "Build Me a Buttercup", "Down the Garden Path", "Blowin' in the Wind Laundry Soap". The recipes I have tried have all turned out very well, and there are plenty of tempting recipes I want to try in future. I have several soap-making books but this is definitely my favourite, and I'd recommend it to complete beginners and old hands alike.