I'm not going to knock Debian, but I agree that it may not be the best for newbies. It really depends on the individual & his/her preference(s).
You could also try Libranet which is Debian based. It has a simpler installer (although not as resilient or flexible IMHO). The distro itself has some gui config tools that can make some tasks easier. It's not free for the most recent versions (2.0.2) but the older (1.9.1) ISO can be found on ibiblio's ftp site. Updating with apt-get is sooooo easy!
An online book on Debian: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/debia...ter/index.html
The book is rather old & is less a book about Debian specifically than about Linux in general. Still, it's worth a look.