Grandfather's experience rings a real *BELL* for me, though perhaps for different reasons.
I came to perl of necessity as a journalist turned flack, who, because of very modest skills with html, was assigned to become a webmaster. Eventually, the html skills got to be fairly decent, but the customers wanted more ( was it not ever thus?
). That eventually led to my foray into perl ...which has proven both wonderfully gratifying and intensely frustrating.
The frustration grows out of collisions with documentation and books that are couched in terms which are undoubtedly both precise and familiar to those who do have a broad CS background... but which I have not.
So ( at last, he gets to the point
), my notion of a ("handy-")reference book is one that can sit beside my keyboard, in my bag, or even on the airline tray in front of me, and provide both answers on functionality and syntax.
This in NO way deprecates my other notion -- that the Cookbook, Perl - Little Black Book, and even MRE - are references; just not so "handy" unless I'm at my desk and free to take significant time from the immediate task at hand to review or learn the complexities of something not_yet_familiar.