In my latest column in SD Times, I try to point out that not everything is super-cool about Ruby. One of the things I point to is the lack of good books. Sure the pick-axe book is a good place to start, but you quickly encounter the need for a practical reference that illustrates the idioms for doing standard things.
O'Reilly and Associates has just released such a book, Ruby Cookbook, (ISBN 0-596-52369-6), which contains more than 800 pages of helpful routines accompanied by thoughtful explanations. It shows how things are normally coded in Ruby. It's an impressive work especially because of its tremendous sweep: whether you need string handling, file I/O, database programming, network programming, multitasking, or accessing BitTorrent, it's all covered in this book. At a $33 street price, the book is a steal, and most Ruby developers are likely to keep a copy beside their workstation.
Other Ruby books are on the way. Most specialize on Rails, but some focus on the language as such. (Surely, there will be the bumper crop of "Ruby in 7 Days" kind of titles and other popularizing volumes, as well). So, my complaint about the lack of good books might be resolved by year end. We'll see. Meanwhile, this volume is a huge step forward.