It's my opinion that many here (and elsewhere, too) think that taking an MSF course is the only thing you should do to learn to ride. No doubt, it gives you a chance to physically experience the dynamics of riding a bike. I recommend it to everyone.
However, there are a number of excellent books and resources out there that will help you understand how a motorcycle works, as well as how every single motion you make and everything else on the road will affect the safety of the experience.
My library includes(so far):
MSF Guide to Motorcycling Excellence...Good basic guide
Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough...Excellent basics
Proficient Motorcycling, Mastering the Ride, by David Hough...Expands on the first book, Excelllent!
A Twist of the Wrist, by Keith Code....Concentrates on Throttle, weight transfer, positioning in turns. More about track, but much transfers to street. Excellent books
A Twist of the Wrist II, by Keith Code....Expands upon his first book. Keith concentrates upon what he calls "Survival Reactions" (FEAR to the rest of us) like gripping the bars to tightly, and suggests ways to combat the instinctive reactions, and explains why those have the potential to kill you. Really good stuff!
Total Control, by Lee Parks..... Another excellent book, sometimes a little Karmic.
Sportriding Techniques, by Nick Ienatsch....Excellent read for street riding.
Sportbike Suspension Tuning, by Andrew Trevitt....All you want or need to know regarding those mysterious things like trail, sag, shocks, forks, and setting them up properly.
I figure I spend 2-3 hours reading and trying understand and apply principles and techniques found in these and other books for every hour in the saddle. I've probably gone over each of these books about 5 times now and I pick up something new each time. I also make notes of what I want to focus on and take them with me on the rides I take on my "course" in the mountains west of me.
In reality it exempts me from having to watch HGTV and the Food Channel with the wife for hours on end.