By far, the best way to keep up-to-date on what modules are the most useful, and to ensure that those modules do what you need, is to actually get directly involved and help. The Drupal community offers a myriad of ways for everyone, from the person who just installed Drupal for the first time yesterday to the person who has been coding since she was in diapers, to give something back.
The "Getting Involved" handbook at http://drupal.org/getting-involved is the main "jumping-off" point for ways to get involved in the Drupal project. Here are a few that are suited to nonprogrammers as well:
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