The book I read as a beginner was Robot Builders Bonanza, the top link on the robot books
page. The best book out there for beginners.
I started building robots in early 2002 not having a clue to what I was doing. I just kept asking questions to everyone I knew . . . My first bot was a failure (and the next 5 bots were successful/functional but had some large level of failure, too), but I learned a lot in the process. If you want to learn, what I recommend is just starting a project and just go with what little you know. You cant expect to know how to build a robot without ever building one
You should also get books on robot theory, and read science papers on robots. This will teach you more advanced algorithms, and give you new ideas for more robots in the future.
Take electronics, programming, and mechanical engineering related classes. I was a mechE and filled my electives with all CS, robotics, and electrical classes.
I think the best way to learn is just to build a lot of robots, and by your second or third you will know what you are doing
The recommended first robot project is a photovore
. Anyone who has built a robot will agree with me on this.