The generosity of the Pragmatic Programmers shined once again at RubyConf as the first 50 attendees was bestowed a copy of the new Programming Ruby book (PickAxe II among friends). Considering the enormous impact of the first edition, people were school-girl giddy about getting their hands on this much anticipated tome.
I didn't have much time to look at it during the actual conference, but on the flight home I gave it a good thorough look. And "holy wow", to borrow an expression. I had high expectations, but Dave Thomas and company has really blown those away.
First of all, the book is huge: 800 pages in total. It contains a great introduction to the language itself, to good techniques such as unit testing and duck typing, over tutorials to RDoc and RubyGems. On top of that is a complete reference to all the 900 methods included in the 48 built-in classes. And of top of that is a fantastic overview of the about 100 classes in the standard library.
Mind you, both the reference and the standard library is original work done mostly by Dave Thomas. This is not just a lame reprint of an already existing standard library documentation done by others (which seems to be really in-vogue for PHP books to republish php.net).
And all the material from the first edition has been tweaked, rewritten, and expanded to account for time and the new major version. As an example of it's greatness, I gained at least ten new important insights about that language and libraries in the few hours I spent flipping through. And I live and breathe Ruby for hours and hours each day.
In short: You need this book! Whether you're a Ruby veteran, neophyte, or just puzzled observer of all this Ruby raving. This is it. This is the book you want. I'd also really recommend that you get the Book + PDF combination. You the dead-tree version to lean back to read the longer chapters and use the PDF while programming Ruby at the screen.
So let me just finish off with: