Yes, it is definitely worth learning
TeX and its derivatives.
It sounds like you have tried going straight to the core:
learning how to write the kind of as-of-now-to-me-completely-opaque
code littered with @ symbols and all manner of unfamiliar low-level
commands that typically appears in forum answers and obscure blogs
Personally, I don't think that this is the best way to get started. Instead, start gently by working with
LaTeX, load packages and let them do the hard work for you. This will allow you to keep your
.tex files relatively free from low-level commands.
Some packages to help you tweak the appearance of the standard classes (
geometry to get your page dimensions setup
fancyhdr to get your headers and footers
enumitem to customize your enumerations
titlesec to customize your section/chapter headings
You might also like to explore some of the other
documentclass that have pre-built settings, such as
If you find that you really can't get the packages to do what you want to (which is very unlikely these days) then you can start the low-level hacking.
TeXbook is a wonderful manual, but I wouldn't recommend it as the first book you ever read about
TeX. Start with some of the references given in this answer
What is the best book to start learning LaTeX?
and when you're curious about how things work, then come back to the
TeXbook as the definitive reference.