I don't like cookbooks. I did buy Odd Bits. It is a gorgeous book. But like most cookbooks the recipes use too many precious ingredients and have too many complicated steps.
Rather than cookbooks, I just learn how to cook the basic outline and then get inventive with interchangeable options. The Los Angeles Times had a good article last Saturday about that. The California Cook: Basic dishes a couple can build on - latimes.com This is the sort of instruction I would much rather have than what a typical cookbook offers.
I don't need to know the steps to make some fancy, pretty dish. What I really need are basic processes and what they work for. What's the temperature for the oven to do what I want to do? Is this cut of meat best with low temp/long cooking time or high temp/short cooking time? Is there a good sauce I can put on top of whatever I'm making and what's the simplest way to make this sauce? What the heck can I do with salt pork that doesn't take a lot of ingredients or steps? That sort of thing. For that reason I never buy books because they're never laid out that way. Maybe Betty Crocker from 1950 is laid out that way. I should look for an old one of those.