For learning "design", the best books I can recommend are:
MTIV [Making the invisible visible]: process, inspiration, and practice
for the new media designer
by Hillman Curtis
Web Style Guide
by Lynch and Horton
(probably want vsn. 2.0)
A lot of design basics are really just learning the technicalities and
best practices for various situations. For example, if you apply basic
typography knowledge (the technical aspects) to any page of text, the
page immediately looks designed better.
A solid foundation in techniques for color, position, and messaging
(communicating what you want to communicate, vs. branding) will make you
a great designer.
The more graphic ornamentation that's often confused for design comes
with practice, and inspiration: seeing something you like and the
incorporating it into your own style.
List wiki/FAQ -- http://css-discuss.incutio.com/
Supported by evolt.org -- http://www.evolt.org/help_support_evolt/