The book isn't for raw beginners. You should be reasonably comfortable with Java before you read it. I think it will help you pass the SCJP exam, because it forces you learn the way things really work. What order is an expression evaluated in? How are numbers converted from one integral type to another? And so on.
Josh and Neal
Joshua Bloch <br />Author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201310058/ref=ase_electricporkchop" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Effective Java</a> and coauthor of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/032133678X/ref=ase_electricporkchop" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Java Puzzlers</a>