Using Linux and writing simple shell scripts has been an enjoyable peek at programming. But now I want to go farther and learning Python strikes me as a useful next step. Starting with the free HTML version of the book Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw, who states right off the bat:
It's only the "hard" way because it uses a technique called instruction. Instruction is where I tell you to do a sequence of controlled exercises designed to build a skill through repetition. This technique works very well with beginners who know nothing and need to acquire basic skills before they can understand more complex topics. It's used in everything from martial arts to music to even basic math and reading skills.
Note: I did not complete the book. My focus shifted to MIT's Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python.