Alchemy for Beginners is something of a difficult thing to write about because traditionally the books written on teh subject were deliberately impenetrable. The motto of the old school alchemists was ‘obscurum ad obscurius’, which means to explain the obscure by the use of the even more obscure.
The first thin that you must recognise is that the subject is split into two – the so called ‘puffers and blowers’ of old who really believed that you could make Gold from lead in your back garden, and the others who saw alchemy as a spiritual and philosophical discpline and weren’t trying to make real physical gold. As most people today would readily accept that they aren’t going to get rich by making their own gold, it is the latter that you should be looking for.
Even the branch of philosophical alchemy there are two moderen schools of thought on alchemy which beginners should be aware of before deciding what books to buy. There are the spiritual books, which are perhaps most true to the traditional way of presenting the subject, and then there is the psychological school of thought which follows the work of the famous psychologist carl Jung who showed how alchemy paralleled his own work on personal developement to a large extent.
Overall the best advice is to buy a modern book before attempting to get your head around the famous text written hundreds of years ago, few of which make for an easy read, and to be aware of the perspective that the writer is coming from before choosing which one to go for. If you do want to delve into the classics then something like the book of Lambspring is an excellent choice, because rather than offering intricate and obscure technical analysis, it is a book of poetry and artwork which is beautiful and inspiring and can be anjoyed by anyone without any previous familiarity with either alchemy itself or with antiquated forms of language.
I think that this is a fascinating subject which is well worth learning more about and I wish you well if you do decide to take your curiosity one step further.