Are there any books like the Head First Java book that require only a text editor to get through It ?
I've found some android development books but they all require the use of an IDE and I think that's going to
hinder my efforts to really understand what I'm doing.
I'm not an android developer, but I think the problem you will find is that you need the android emulator which runs as a plug-in in the IDE. If you write and compile the code using a text editor (which is usually a good idea), how are you going to execute it?
Maybe there is a standalone way to do that. I don't know. In any case, I will move this to our android forum where you are more likely to find the answer.
"The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do." -- Ted Nelson
Even if an IDE is HIGHLY recommended to develop for Android, it is possible to develop without an IDE. You need a shell and an editor. In this case, the recommended way to build Android apps is by using Gradle.
But, again, I think you better start with Android Studio. The learning curve should be seen as an investment: it will dramatically accelerate your work in the future.
I believe that the emulator comes with the Android Developer Kit so an IDE shouldn't be essential. However, I use Eclipse just because it gives me a WYSIWYG designer for the screen templates. I got the impression that recently Eclipse support for the Android developer environment has been reduced, but I'm not certain.
You should be able to generate an Android project using the Maven archetype:generate goal and no IDE at all. And if you change your mind, one of the post-generation goals such as "eclipse:eclipse" can generate the necessary IDE project support files.
Sometimes the only way things ever got fixed is because people became uncomfortable.
Yes, the ADB command can install apks on a running VM. It's well documented in the Android online doc. I use Oracle's VirtualBox to run the Android VM. It's much faster to start ( 10-20 seconds). I got the VMs from Genymotion.