In general, how-to books have been useful for me, improving myself. I learned a lot about programming, guitar, gardening, ukulele, music theory, psychology and philosophy from books. Although I took college courses in a lot of these things, I learned more from reading books on my own in those subjects than from the courses.
I've also benefited greatly from reading books on mindfulness and optimism. Although, I'll admit I'm still a little neurotic at times, I think I'm much closer to having "inner peace" now than I ever have been, in part because of reading those books. I get stressed from time to time, but I'm never depressed anymore.
I think Pro Tools and Reason might be overwhelming for someone just getting started. I'd pick up FL Studio Producer Edition, a Shure 58 and a usb audio Interface with a built in pre-amp (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Focusrite-2i2-USB-Recording-Interface/dp/B005OZE9SA/ref=zg_bs_11973691_10 ). That's a lot of money ($200 + $100 + $140 = $440), but that will get you started in a simple, easy to learn environment capable of producing extremely high quality results (in the right hands).
I have a lot of experience volunteering to teach/tutor people. The organizations I volunteer with are all local, but I can say tutoring people with handicaps and helping people learn English is very rewarding work.
I like Lana Del Rey more than I like most musicians, but not enough to call myself a fan.
She's doing something that's quite a bit different than most of the other stuff out there -- I appreciate that. I dig her whole aesthetic and image... I just don't react that strongly to any of her songs.