Rick Steves' is always my 1st go-to when it comes to travel/vacationing information. Most of his books are available on amazon as ebooks/kindle books - this is my preference because I can load them on my iPhone's kindle app for easy access on the go (and don't forget you can search keywords to find info quickly, unlike with a regular book). Rick's Venice 2014 book was great: I have been to Venice before as part of a study-abroad program, but went back recently with my brother and we trusted his book to help us develop and prioritize an agenda to get the best out of a short 48 hour stay. He definitely didn't let us down!
Venice-goers are reminded that if your a tense, gotta-follow-a-strictly-scheduled itinerary-or-I-stress type , you probably won't enjoy yourself too much. Why? Because Venice is LITERALLY a maze. Keeping this in mind, we'd just do our best to walk in a new general direction each day, and when we found an easily identifiable spot, we'd load up Rick's Venice 14 and see what he recommended to do/where to eat/what to see in that area, and we were never disappointed! That said, there are a must-see/do things you should plan ahead:
1) St. Marks Bascillica (book as far ahead as possible - highly unlikely to be able to walk up and purchase tickets day/week of)
2) Doges palace - my brother and I actually did buy tickets day of for this. If your don't want to stress and rush for an appointment w/ a tour group, this could be the way to go IF you're ok with doing the standard self guided tour w/ an audio headset. OTHERWISE: book a tour ahead online. I highly recommend the "secret agendas" tour (rick tells you a bit about it I believe). I did this my first time on Venice. Definitely was worth it.
Get this book before your Venice trip if you want to save time, money, and max out the fun and exiting opportunities on your trip!