This book, complete and detailed, could change the way you cook. It almost certainly will change the way you entertain. None of what chef and foodie Mark Bittman writes - that I've read, anyway - is fiction: he writes about food and cooking. Every recipe of his I've tried has been excellent, and his commentary is low-key and spot-on.
I just finished reading (twice! two parties!) The World's Best Recipes, and I can recommend the Potage Crecy (don't get intimidated, it's carrot soup) recipe as easy, tasty, and a great starter for a winter dinner. It's also good cold. Best yet, make it 2 or 3 days ahead and reheat. But that simple little recipe is only one of scores and scores you'll want to try. If I were to do a riff on Julie and Julia, I'd work my way through this thick resource, enjoying every single blissful bite. This, my gourmet friends, is a pure 5+.