The following image shows a good source of learning electronics.
You did it correctly! You need a breadboard and its components. It is the only thing that can replace it. You will not find the personal experience of watching the electronics in action in books or websites. You will find a variety of abstractions in books and websites. circuit diagrams, symbols etc. But this will not make your circuits more efficient.
I recommend that you get a good book such as “The Art of Electronics”.
Then, buy, beg (don’t), steal components and breadboard, and then implement the circuits from those books. You can improve the circuits by playing around with them.