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.
Some more specialized books/lecture notes are:
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