I picked up Perl in the mid 90s, after hearing a lot about how much easier it was for certain classes of task, like networking. I used the pink Camel and friendly Perl folks online to do an honors project for my networking class. Later, I picked up Perl 5 as a side thing at my C/C++ job, and then moved on to doing Perl full time.
I don't know if it's still the case, but at one point, conventional wisdom was "If you know how to program, start with the Camel; if you don't, start with the llama". A lot of books have come out since then, and YMMV.
These days, I use the Camel and the cookbook as references, and PerlMonks for learning.