When DH and I married three years ago, I owned zero cookbooks. During those first few months of marriage I realized that I needed to expand my cooking beyond tacos, spaghetti, grilled chicken, red beans and rice, and chicken noodle soup. Basically we ate meals that were all made from memory that first month. Boy, that got old! As you can tell, I've picked up quite a few cookbooks these past three years! They're used frequently, as you can see by the torn up shelf. :)
I have old church cookbooks from the 70s and old Southern Living cookbooks given to me from my grandmother, slow cooker and easy weeknight meal cookbooks given to me from my mother-in-law, baking books, food magazines, and even a Rachel Ray cookbook!
My favorite by far is Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 14th Edition. If there's one cookbook that every new cook should have, it's this one. It covers the basics and offers advice and help. Most recipes are uncomplicated and easy, not requiring any odd ingredients or even very many ingredients. The first time I want to try something new from scratch, I'll turn to this book first and try their recipe. Why? They always work and taste good. It may not be French gourmet, but you'll be satisfied and happy.
The other two cookbooks that I recommend to others is The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I've mentioned the bread book several times on here. The Pioneer Woman is also nice because of all the detailed step by step photos, helping to ensure even the most novice cook can make great food. I won't claim that most of her recipes are healthy in any way, but they're good. This is the book to have around for when you need something special or a treat. There are plenty of recipes to help you feed a crew or use for a special dinner.
My most used "cookbooks" are my three binders. Each binder contains recipes I've found online, torn out of magazines, and even old recipe cards from family members.
Separated into categories and alphabetized within each. It's easy for me (or DH) to find and pull one out. Each recipe is in it's own sheet protector. I love sheet protectors for this purpose. I'm a messy cook at time, and it's great being able to keep the recipe on the counter and just wipe it clean when I'm done.
I will admit it took some time when I started this project over a year and a half ago to have all these various recipes in one organized place, but now it's easy for me to add to it.