|Come for the quick hacks, stay for the epiphanies.
This book is a great foundation for anyone who wants to figure out what the heck all these squiggles and equals signs are all about. The book starts with the basics of any language. It goes over how a computer works at the most basic level and how code drives these basic components. It then moves on to how good and bad code can make all the difference in the world to how well your computer and program are going to run.
The switch into Perl is done with ease and the book moves you through a series of classroom style exercises that give you the tools to build on to do more and more complex tasks from chapter to chapter. The book uses an in and out style, giving a lot of detail, some code, and then stepping back to analyze it all and dissect it in great detail.
The author lays down a good Perl foundation as well, making sure to stress the use of use strict; and making sure to mention that there are better ways to do some things, but they have levels of complexity that the book is not ready to get to yet. Very much in the spirit of TMTOWTDI throughout.
I was a web database guy who did some frontend work on the side and used the notorious 'Selena Sol' and 'MSA' scripts about four and half years ago. I switched jobs and left Perl and development entirely for a while, but have been back in it big-time with a project in my new company. Elements of Programming with Perl was just the ticket to get me back into the saddle with both a good developer's mindset and a running start on Perl. An excellent book, and easy to read as well.