What is the best book to start with, depends on your level in programming and general electronics. Let say, Massimo Banzi Getting started with Arduino link
is better for beginners.
For advanced programmers Arduino Cookbook by Michael Margolis link
If you already decided to go with Make Things Talk, then I don't think you need a kit. Book mostly describe a projects build around a shields, so you would need an arduino board and network / wireless / gps / distance ranger / locations / identification RFID / etc shields.