Well without knowing where your skills are at it is hard to point you someplace. Do you know any languages at all? My feeling is IMO your not going to learn php out of a book, at least i could not. Books are ok for ref but you have to get your hands dirty here.
I had some coding background in the old days way before the internet. So i had a grasp of the basic theory IPO (input processing output) so although some languages are more intense than others the basic principle is the same. This made it easier for me to learn a new language but not out of a book.
After i got a grasp on HTML and CSS then i grabbed a open source PHP script off the net and ripped it apart, made my mistakes, manipulated the IPO and was able to make it work.
I am no php expert for sure and i still rely on the help here to get what i need often, its a great forum. There are always more than one way to get something done in coding.
So at this point if you want to learn i suggest you start with HTML and CSS and go from there.
On the other hand if you want to just get this front page feed project done and then learn on your own after that, i suggest you might need to hire someone to do it for you this time.
We can layout the principle here for you and send you places but if you have little to no knowledge how to apply the information then it really is a moot point right..