I've got into photography this year, but opted to learn from manual cameras before plunging into the digital market.
I've got a couple of Pentax K1000's and have just bought an LX. I've also got a Mamiya medium format. You can easily pick up a K1000 and 3 lenses (28, 50 and 80-200) for about Â£100 on ebay and sell them for about the same when you're ready to move on.
Going back about 10 pages to the original question, I found a couple of John Hedgecoe's books pretty helpful. They're available from Amazon, and go into quite a bit of detail on film and digital formats, as well as image manipulation.