The Talisman Italian Cook Book was my first cookbook. I bought a copy when I moved out of the dorm my first year in college, and I still refer to it now and then.
Ada Boni's recipes were different from the ones my grandmother gave me. Boni uses carrots in her chicken cacciatora. We used celery. We never cooked with wine, and my grandmother skinned the chicken before she browned it.
Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child, of course. The only Child recipe I still do is her roasted chicken. She thought roasted chicken was the true test of a cook, and I agree. Except for slow smoking and an occasional bird done standing up with a half-full beer can in its cavity, I don't do whole chickens any other way.
Julia's book led me into French wine, and Alexis Lichine made French wine fun.
The Minimalist Cooks Dinner was my introduction to Mark Bittman.
In the trade-off between time and taste, Bittman strikes just the right balance for me. By now, everybody in the world has linked to Bittman's New York Times article about Jim Leahy's no-knead bread recipe, but one more link can't hurt.
Everyday Greens by Annie Somerville was my bridge into Vegetarian and Vegan cooking.
Express Lane Meals by Rachael Ray is my daughter's cookbook.
Because of Ray and the other Food Network foodies, I have a 10-year-old who eats everything and concocts her own recipes, including interesting dressings, some of them actually edible.