I am a collector at heart. It's an inherited trait from my mother. I have about 50 cookbooks in my collection, though I rarely use other people's recipes. My GO TO cookbook would have to be Ina Garten's original Barefoot Contessa book. Her recipes are very simple, using fresh ingredients and almost always turn out excellent. The other cookbook that I absolutely love to look at is called LIVING and EATING by John Pawson. This is a hard to find book, though you can easily order it on amazon. It is a beautiful book from the U.K. and I have made a number of the husband and wife team's recipes. My dates stuffed w/ mascarpone and pistachio nuts drizzled w/ maple syrup is an idea I got from that book.
I also love Mario Batali, he is such a fabulous chef and his NYC restaurants are top on our list. Michael Chiarello is a favorite also (do I detect an Italian theme going on here?). Lidia Bastianich & Jacques Pepin are classic favorites, before the Food Network came to be, and their cookbooks are always dependable.
The first cookbook I ever owned was the SILVER PALATE. I still use it during the holidays to make the famous Chicken Marbella. Another early favorite was The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith (I think he was arrested for something), this paperback book filled w/ simple recipes, still has some good ideas, though not really as up to date by today's gourment standards.
I have so many on my shelves. These days I don't read novels, just cookbooks!