I've been a cookbook junkie for over 20 years, and I'm not even going to attempt to list my entire collection here, which is around 200 now. These are just the top shelf books that I use the most often. Some I've had for a long time, and others are recent additions to my shelves. To see more of my favorite cookbooks, visit my Amazon store.
The Way to Cook, by Julia Child
What can I say that hasn't already been said? It's a classic for learning how to cook. Pages of master recipes with many notes from the master herself.
Local Breads, by Daniel Leader
This is the book that got me started on starters. There's a few quick recipes that give excellent results, but for the most part the recipes require starters, and Leader gives excellent, detailed instructions.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
An updated combined version of her first two books, Essentials really is a guidebook to Italian cuisine with great recipes throughout.
The Occasional Vegetarian, by Karen Lee
The title perfectly describes our style of eating. I highly recommend the Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil on page 165. It's great with a dollop of yogurt on top.
Farm Journal's Homemade Breads
I have the 1985 version, but I'm planning to get the new one since mine has been so well loved and is now falling apart. It's held together with lots of tape. Lots of yummy homemade goodies in here, from yeast breads to every kind of sweet bread and quick bread you can think of. I'm especially fond of the Sugar-Topped Coffeecake on page 51.
New York Times Cookbook, by Craig Claiborne
An excellent all-around cookbook with stand out recipes in all categories. My favorite baked pasta recipe is in here on page 480, Baked Noodles with Tomatoes and Mozzarella.
The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors, by Jeff Smith
An excellent resource for a wide variety of international dishes.
Far Eastern Cookery, by Madhur Jaffrey
Beautiful photos and delicious authentic Asian recipes make this an old favorite.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart
I learn something new every time I open this book. If you are just looking for bread recipes, look elsewhere. But if you truly want a solid introduction to the art and the science of making beautiful artisan bread, then this is an excellent resource.
Simply Thai Cooking, by Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu
I fell in love with the food on a trip to Thailand in 1996. Everything in this book is delicious and authentic and reminds me of the great food I had on my trip. My personal favorite is the Cashew Nut Chicken (Kai Hima Parn) on page 112.
America's Test Kitchen cookbooks
I have four so far and will be adding more to my collection. Their cooking show on PBS is tied with Good Eats as my favorite cooking shows. I like their honest evaluations of products, both on the show and in their cookbooks, and how they teach instead of merely demonstrating how to prepare a dish.
The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
Another excellent all-around baking resource. This one ties with my Farm Journal Homemade Breads cookbook.
Food & Wine Magazine's Quick from Scratch series
I have several of the books in this series.The recipes are all in the easy to medium range, and I haven't had one turn out bad yet. One of my favorite recipes in the collection is Linguine with Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan from the Quick from Scratch Pasta Cookbook, page 153.
Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, by Bernard Clayton
The original was published in 1973 and is a classic volume on baking almost every kind of bread you can think of. This is another one of my cookbooks with lots of Post-It Notes on the pages. The recipes range from super easy to advanced in complexity.