This is a great book, period. I learned Perl with the first edition in hand, taking six hours to create a shopping cart CGI that mimicks the way people actually shop, in only six pages of code, most of which were comments! I simply found this book much easier to understand and work with than the titles you normally think of.

The book is subtitled Little Black Book, Concise Problem Solver. A minor change from the previous Indispensable Problem Solver, but similarly descriptive.

At the highest level, the book is organized into parts:

Each part is comprised of various Chapters of related items. The first page of each Chapter is a list of recipes (and where to find them) where each item is a recipe - a how-to with examples to accomplish some aspect of Perl. Each chapter is tabbed in black in the margin in a different spot, so they are easy to find. For example, if you wanted to know how to use characters in regular expressions, just flip to the beginning of the Regular Expressions Chapter, look for the Immediate Solution of Using Characters in Regular Expressions and flip to the appropriate page. Then you can learn/verify that \s will match a whitespace character. (Of course, the index is also useful because some topics cross Chapter boundaries.)

This book has replaced the previous edition on my workspace. It doesn't sit on the shelf at all, but is always within arm's reach. This is the one book I turn to constantly when I'm coding Perl. There's always something that's new to me, or something I want to verify because I haven't used it in a while.

However, know that it is not a complete reference by any means - remember the Core Language part of the title. Other Perl books will still have their places, but this one's place is like that of a best friend.

The only thing missing is the quick reference card that the first edition had that you could detach (but that I never did since the book was always in front of me). Nevertheless, I often made use of it, so I might just take the old one from the first edition and put it in the new one…