I have recently had to study for the Microsoft Exam 70-410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012. I have been an MCSE since the NT 4.0 days and have always kept my certification up-to-date, including passing the notoriously difficult Windows 2000 Upgrade exam, which you got to sit once and either passed or failed.
While taking courses in not a bad idea, it has never really been for me, I would rather get a good book or two and self study for the exam. My company is always happy to pay out for a few books, as it is a lot cheaper than a course and others in the office can reuse them, they are also great for reference after exam day. I am happy to say I passed the exam and below are the three books I found the most useful out of the ten or so we had floating around the office.
The first book, or to be more accurate, series of books is the official Microsoft Course books, Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 with Lab Manual Set. You really can’t get better than the official courseware, as you know it contains exactly what Microsoft thinks is important to know, so you know it is going to end up in the exam in some way shape or form. It is not really a book to prepare you specifically to pass the exam, but is a great reference guide for what is important in Windows 2012.
If you are looking for exam prep material then you can’t go pass MCSA Windows Server 2012 Complete Study Guide, which will not only prep you for the 70-410 exam, but also 70-411, 70-412, and 70-417. I have not done these exams yet, they are on my to-do list, but I found this a great exam prep guide for 70-410.
The final book I would recommend, more to learn Windows rather than pass the exam is one I have recommended previously, the Windows Server 2012 Pocket Consultant. It really does cut out a lot of the rubbish stuff that you don’t need to know and cuts to the chase with the good/important stuff. This is my favourite reference guide for Windows 2012 and my go to book when I want to understand a new concept, you know, apart from Google. It won’t help you prep for the exam, but it is worth the dollars you will pay for it.
An honourable mention goes to the Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012, which is also one of used previously to learn the product rather than pass the exam. Good luck with the studying and if you find another good book let us know in the comments!