There are a lot of good books
out there on the basics of sailing. Steve Colgate's wife's (and I can never remember her first name) book, "Sailing for Women" is actually one of the best written books
on the topic for any gender. You can't really completely learn how to sail from a book, but you if you read and then get out and do it, you will learn a lot more quickly.
As the other two posts suggest, if you live in an area where there is an active sailing community you can often get to crew on race
boats (or even daysailing with someone like myself who will often bring folks along when I would otherwise be single
Sailing communities often have sailing courses at the local Community Colleges which can get you fairly inexpensive access to an instructor and time on the water
. Yacht Clubs and such organizations as Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxillary also offer course. Sailing communities will often have small craft day rentals which is another way to get out on the water. An excellent way to ramp
up your skills is to buy a small boat (either a dinghy
or small keel
boat) which can often be done quite cheaply and the time spent sailing and maintaining the boat will rapidly increase the speed at which you learn because of the time on water and if you have a boat, you can generally find boatless experienced people who are willing to come along and coach you.
Lastly, if you don't live within easy driving distance of a major sailing community (I'd say you need to move but that is just me) then you can use vacations to enroll in emersion courses in sailing, you can charter
boats with other people, or sign up on crew lists.
BTW Where do you live?