Slightly off-topic perhaps, but being an utter PerlNewbie myself, I found that Online tutorials were an effective way to grok the basics of Perl. I'm reading the gecko book (which is great) now, but I'm really glad that I worked through Robert's Perl Tutorial
first. The thing about Online tutorials is that you're already at your computer, so you can work through the examples as you go. A slightly unwieldy process if you're trying to balance a laptop and a book in the same lap.