The apostle John was exiled to the Island of Patmos off the coast of Asia Minor because of his preaching. While on Patmos, Jesus appeared to him and revealed a message for the church, which we know as the book of Revelation. The name Revelation comes from a translation of the very first Greek word in the first verse, apokalypsis. Apocalyptic language is a language of pictures, used commonly in biblical prophecy and also in non-biblical writings during the first and second centuries. Revelation is one of the first books people want to learn about, though many seem frightened by it. In order for you to understand this book you must know the Old Testament. That is where you learn the keys to unlocking the symbolism used in apocalyptic language. For now, simply get an overview of the book, and glean its most basic messages.
Begin with Revelation 1-4. You should know that the disciples being written to are undergoing a fierce persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. In the first verse you will see the purpose of this book is to reveal events which "must soon take place." Keep this in mind as you are reading.