Originally posted by Mad Rook
I think I remember reading an interview with Hikaru Nakamura in which he said that he hasn't read many chess books. But he might be the exception to the rule.
Nakamura's stepfather is Sunil Weeramantry, a FIDE master and famous chess coach. So I'm sure he had no problem getting endless hours of free, high quality, one on one coaching.
For those of us who are less fortunate, I think chess books can be a valuable resource.
On the other hand, just because you might happen to have a book about chess in your possession doesn't automatically mean you're going to get better. Obviously, the better the book and the more time and effort you put in to making the best use out of it, the more you'll get out of it.
One good way of reading any chess book is to cover up each move in the book, decide what move you'd make and why, and only then look at the move given in the book. Unless you're a grandmaster, your moves will differ from what's in the book more often than not. So, when they do, try to figure out why. If you've chosen a book appropriate to your level, it will explain or at least provide a variation for many of the moves you missed. But if it doesn't, and after thinking about the move for a while, you still don't understand why it was made, make a note of it and ask a stronger player when you get the chance. Or put the position in to a computer, try your move instead of the text move, and see what happens.
Anyway, speaking of Sunil Weeramantry, I can recommend a book of his called "Best Lessons of a Chess Coach". It's written in a very accessible manner, with lots of commentary on each move, in the style of Chernev's "Logical Chess Move by Move" and Nunn's "Understanding Chess Move by Move", though Weeramantry's book is probably too advanced for a 1300 player. Starting with Chernev's book is probably a better idea.