There are always strings. Reading is good, but reading won't give you the visceral feel for the workings of a sailboat. If you really want to learn?
START BY TAKING LESSONS. That will get you on the boat and learning things with your hands and butt, the old fashioned way, that book learning just can't match for this.
Reading up on it is great--but the reading has to be an adjunct to experience. In RI the season will beending soon, so if you can take a course this season, while it is still possible, do it. Otherwise you're going to lose another year.
Once you've learned the basics, you'll find you can always bum a ride on race days, and watch and learn more every time you are out. If you don't spend time on the water--you won't learn to sail.