The forward (a comic by why the lucky stiff) grabs you immediately, and sets a great Ruby tone for the rest of the book. While Peter doesn’t hit the level of controlled insanity that Why carries off, as a member of the Ruby community he’s able stick to the same high level of “Rubyness”.
There are several things I really liked about the book. Peter hits several topics that you don’t normally see in a book for beginners, including: Benchmarking and Profiling, RubyInline, and Network Programming (including the use of GServer). I also enjoyed his examples. The shorter “building a text adventure” section was great. Chapter 12, “Tying It Together: Developing a Larger Ruby Application”, brings together several ideas and does a really good job of showing how to develop a tool with Ruby. Chapter 16, “Useful Ruby Libraries and Gems”, provides solid coverage of a number of gems and libraries.
Beginning Ruby is a great book for a new programmer, or a programmer new to Ruby. It’s a great alternative to the other beginner’s books on Ruby out there.