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Textbooks are a great source for what little knowledge has been digested well enough and is popular enough to warrant a textbook. If your interests are a little more technical, you often don't have a choice but to read academic papers. On a very rough scale: to learn something you might learn at a university as an undergraduate, read a textbook, but to learn something usually only PhDs know, you need to read papers.

It's true that many papers are badly written, but (1) to emphasize: sometimes there is no other source for something, and (2) most books are pretty awful, too, you have to be selective with anything.

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