I've tried to read about what a Bitcoin is, how to mine, etc. I find them to be confusing in that I don't understand the underlying factors driving Bitcoin. Everything I've read seems to assume the reader has some knowledge of Bitcoin (even the wiki). Where should I start?
I wrote the "New to Bitcoin? Start here!" post at bitcointalk.org.
OrigamiRobot, I highly recommend that you read that introduction before proceeding on to anything else, especially the original whitepaper, which is incredibly unapproachable for the average person. After you finish it, come here and ask about the things that still confuse you--Bitcoin is very complicated, and it can take a while to wrap your head around it!
Weusecoins.com has an excellent video on the basic premise of bitcoin. Bitcoin is a very complicated platform, and really has two separate entities. There is bitcoin the currency, and bitcoin the currency ledger.
The wiki available at bitcoin.it will give you more in depth information if the weusecoins video is too broad.
For a detailed, yet approachable (if you know a little bit about software and cryptography) overview of how bitcoin works, read Satoshi's white paper at: http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
Here's a hint to get you started: a bitcoin is a balance in an account. It's not a token that is passed around. Many digital cash systems are based on discreet tokens. That's not the case with bitcoin. It is a ledger system that consists of a transaction history where balances are transferred between accounts. If you understand this before reading the paper, it might make more sense.
I think that the Bitcoin wiki is actually a very good place to learn about Bitcoin. Just read the articles there. If you don't understand something, just continue reading and then follow up on the terms you didn't understand.
If you then still have questions left, feel free to ask them here.
PS: we use coins is also a good place to start, especially the video mentioned by Matth1a3.
I recommend this master thesis on “Design and security analysis of Bitcoin infrastructure using application deployed on Google Apps Engine.” It covers the fundamentals of Bitcoin protocol and how everything works together in Bitcoin ecosystem.
I believe the author of this paper is also quite active here!
However, nobody's recommended the Developer Guide at bitcoin.org yet, and it's one of the better resources for learning about Bitcoin, in my opinion.
For less technical resources, a good starting place would be Andreas Antonopoulos and Balaji Srinivasan's videos on Youtube.
The Princeton Bitcoin textbook is freely available here. I've read parts of it, and it is well-written and easily accessible if you have some computer science background. It was published to accompany their Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies Online Course.
Jameson Lopp curates an excellent collection of all things Bitcoin on his website. If you are new, check out a few of the explanations he links in the "Getting Started" section, he also covers books, courses, blogs, podcasts, articles, technical resources, and more.
I suggest the book Bitcoin Step by Step which can be found on Kindle.
It will get users started safe and secure in the Bitcoin market place. It takes them screen by screen
- on how to set up a wallet securely
- Funding an account
- sending / receiving BTC
- Extracting BTC to currency
- Where they can spend BTC
- How they can earn BTC
I created this Canonical Newbie Guide on Reddit. It's still empty, but I'm hoping it will become a good resource for newbies.