The canonical reference for learning quantum computing is the textbook Quantum computation and quantum information by Nielsen and Chuang. Another good book (with more of a "little yellow book" experience) is Classical and Quantum Computation by Kitaev, Shen and Vyalyi.
There are also great free resources online.
If you want to get a flavor of what research is currently hot, then one place to look is at the program of the last few QIP workshops. A less curated list of interesting papers can be found at scirate.com, where looking at the most scited papers in the last year should bring up some interesting work.
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