It's hard to just recommend something - different people like different features. When I was just starting I used GNOME because I never 'felt' right with KDE. Things just didn't seem to do what I wanted them to. Now I prefer to have less on my desktop - I don't like icons, I just want a simple window manager and a taskbar. As long as I can bring up an xterm to run my apps then I'm happy
If you have a system with both KDE and GNOME installed then I would give both a try and see which you prefer. I would say either of them is the best way to get started and as you need to do more stuff you'll find yourself using the command line and will probably want to move away from them yourself.
I say just try both and see which you like, and if you like neither then there are plenty of simple window managers (fluxbox, openbox, sawfish) that provide basic functionality onto which you can add other apps, such as the file manager ROX, to do other things.
The great thing about unix is the variety!