1) All you "need" is an access point and a wireless NIC of some kind, but if you don't yet have a router, your money would be better spent just getting the wireless router. If you already have a wired router, I'd price check the difference between a wireless access point and a new(er) wireless router. Chances are good that the wireless router makes the best financial sense and has a similiar outcome: wireless connectivity on a home network.
2) All wireless routers/access points come with pretty detailed instructions on how to set them up. There isn't much more to it than following those... though I do feel that setting up the access point would be somewhat more simple than setting up the router.
3) I can't recommend brands or anything (because I don't have a favorite). D-Link makes good stuff, so does Linksys and Microsoft (though they're pricey). If you're looking at a wireless router or access point, make sure it's 802.11G. As for a specific brand: I'll just recommend the one with the best rebate right now.
Good luck. It really isn't very hard to set up, even for non-geeks.