So anyways, I decided to take up learning Taimanov and Kan Sicillian so I was wondering if someone could just tell me what are the basic plans of this opening, what I've seen from my brief analysis is that black's black squares are going to get exposed since his attack on the c3 square seems inevitable, b5 and Bb7 looks quite tempting as a plan, and how afraid should I be of white's attack on the queenside? Also what are some good books to study for these variations?
The book The Most Flexible Sicilian by Delchev & Semkov covers both the Kan and Taimanov. Each part contains a section that presents the main ideas before going into detailed theory. A more interactive and better introduction to the Taimanov is given by Sicilian Taimanov by Emms. It is part of Everyman's Move by Move series which presents a Q&A style.
The Kan and Taimanov are not as theoretical as the other Sicilians but is still very flexible and discussing plans in different variations will be cumbersome. I have found that looking at annotated games of well known practitioners is useful in learning plans in the opening. Some practitioners of the Taimanov are Ulf Andersson, Anatoly Karpov and Mark Taimanov.
At present, the Taiminov is used as a transpositional system into the Scheveningen, because it avoids side lines with 3 BB5 via 2...e6 compared to 2...d6 or Nc6 while not allowing the Maroczy Bind via 4...Nc6 compared to 4...a6. This move order is preferable to Grandmasters, because the Scheveningen proper has to deal with the Keres Attack and the Najdorf has to deal with the more aggressive Bishop positioning such as 6 Bg5 or Bc4.
White's plan is to develop the Bishops to e3 and e2 in order to castle and expand in the center with f4. Here Black has to make a decision between continuing in the "spirit" of the Taiminov with Bb4 or transposing into the Scheveningen with Be7 - the latter is in vogue. Assumming you transpose into the Scheveningen with Be7, white will continue with his plan of f4, forcing d6, and then eliminate counter play on the queenside with a4 and play kh1 to prepare for a kingside attack.
The topical line is, 1 e4,c5 2 nf3,e6 3 d4,pxp 4 nxp, nc6 5 nc3, qc7 6 be2, a6 7 be3, nf6 8 0-0, and here is where the taiminov transposes into the scheveningen with be7 9 f4, d6 10 a4, 0-0 11 kh1 and black to play. I believe the current novelty is nxn for black and starting counter play in the center instead of allowing white to steam roll on the kingside.
The advantages of the opening in general is that it's simple, solid and doesn't allow white much room for much deviation or aggressive play earlier in the opening.
IMO Sicilian Taimanov, Move by Move is a good book.
Indeed, b5 and Bb7 is played in many variations.
A major theme is when to play d6 and transition to the Scheveningen in reply to f4. It's always possible, but not always necessary to play d6.
There are surprising and active variations with moves like h5 and Ng4.
IME, many club players play cautiously against the Taimanov, with moves like a3 and f3. You'll easily get an equal game against such moves. I'm currently going through Emms' book again to learn how I can play for a win when the opponent plays like that.