When you’re studying a topic, a course acts as a filter for the material: Rather than having to consider every reference on a subject, you get a nicely curated subset that the instructor believes fulfills the goals of the course. Rather than having to read an entire textbook, you get a list of sections, or maybe just notes and lectures. Rather than having to solve every problem in the book, you get a list of suggested problems, or a standalone problem set.
But a textbook without a course is also a filter. Rather than having to read through all the original research papers on a topic, you get an expert’s distillation of the important results, combined with a set of problems to help you learn and understand the topic. Since I’m using the textbook approach rather than the course approach, here are some ideas about how to select problems from a textbook.