Setting your notification level is done in your User CP under "Edit Options". However that only affects future postings. You will continue to receive emails from threads you are already subscribed to. You have to explicitly unsubscribe from them.
For reading the forum, I always just use "New Posts". However you can also go to your public profile, and under "statistics" select "find all posts by..." which will show you your last bunch of posts.
Coffee is your friend. Everyone else is an acquaintance.