Before I explain what a fantastic book this is, I should disclose that my name appears on the cover, and then explain what this really means. I was honored to be asked to write one chapter for the new book on the topic of the RubyGems package manager. My praise for the book stands regardless of my (very minor) contribution. So, don’t take any of these comments as self-praise or self-promotion. I am humbled by what Dave and Andy have done for Ruby and am flattered to have been mentioned on the cover for my somewhat trivial involvement.
If you’ve read the first edition of "The Pickaxe", you already know that it’s one of the most readable and informative programming language introductions you’ll find—for any language. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the second edition is also called "Programming Ruby". This is a new and better book. Dave has updated the book to cover Ruby 1.8, added an excellent chapter on unit testing, and single-handedly documented the entire standard library (which has grown immensely since Ruby 1.6).
If you’ve been thinking about learning a new language, now’s the time.