I found the Ladder to be a little difficult to get through....mostly because I am spiritually immature but also not as well read in ascetic writings. I recommend Ascending the Heights (a layman's guide to the Ladder of Divine Ascent) by Father John Mack. This book was much easier for me to read and distilled all the steps up the ladder and applies them to people living "in the world" who are not monastics. It still contains many direct quotes from St. John Climacus.
A quick selection from the introduction follows:
According to St. John, the goal of our life, which is the goal to which the Ladder will lead us, is Christocentric: to follow Christ, to become like God, to imitate and resemble Him in His divine love. This is dramatically demonstrated in the most famous icons of St. John Climacus. St. John is most often shown at the bottom of a ladder, pointing people up. Jesus is shown at the top of the ladder, with His arms outstretched ready to receive those who ascend. Demons are attacking those who are climbing the ladder, trying to pull them down to hell.
The message is clear: In order to ascend to heaven, it is necessary for us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We will never make it to God if we fix our eyes on the method, on the rungs of the ladder. This will only lead us to despair, and/or a rigid legalism which will rob us of our joy. We must look to Jesus. We must keep our eyes on the Kingdom and view all of our struggles in its everlasting Light.
Obviously St. John's Ladder of Divine Ascent is a book that is extremely edifying and valuable. My suggestion is that you may want to start with the above book first. Good luck and God bless you on your ascent.