In the past 10 months I have returned to programming computers, having taken a decade off doing such to produce dance music, work as a surgical nurse, and currently to do CAD/CAM programming for a stone manufacturer. In the nineties I coded a bit in pure assembly, but have never coded in a high level language, never one with objects or garbage collection, and honestly haven't coded at all for 12 years.
This book should have been the first book I picked up when I was staging my return, as it is the first beginner level programming book to hold my interest, and one which enables the user to work with first class multimedia applications while still coding at the beginner level. Data visualization has really taken off, and Casey Reas and Ben Fry's Processing language is a beautiful abstraction on top of Java for creating rich media, generative art, and visualizations.
I've built a small coding library of 75-100 retained books from the 400+ I bought from Amazon in the past 10 months, and this is absolutely the first book I should have read - without a doubt. Processing, the language, is an absolutely wonderful platform for learning to program - and I wish I could say that I first learned to program using this book and Processing.
If you are curious about learning how to program, "Learning Processing" gives you a much more interesting set of tools to work with for learning the basics - I think this will lead to continued interest in some who might otherwise give up early.
I have (but have not read cover to cover) the other Processing related books - "Processing" by Reas and Fry, "Processing" by Ira Greenberg, and "Visualizing Data" by Fry - and I think the reason I haven't completed them is because they are intermediate level programming books, and will make more sense to read now, having completed "Learning Processing."
Finally, I think it's important to mention that I have noticed that it is increasingly obvious when books are written by educators, as opposed to professional coders. There is a certain command of the readers attention span that only teachers/educators can harness, and this is no exception.
I highly recommend this book, which perhaps, could have been titled more aptly "Learning to Program via Processing," but which was a fabulous read nonetheless!