Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and author of How To Cook Everything, tells us his three favorite cookbooks -- for the moment.
Note that three is an arbitrary number and unfair to the literally dozens of cookbooks that are equally valuable. So, on any given day, my answers might differ.
Having said that:
Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook: The best basic guide to Asian food, which before this was largely ignored by (non-Asian) Americans.
Paula Peck's Art of Good Cooking: An inspiration to me when I was young and learning how to cook, and still incredibly sensible.
James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking: Still an amazingly useful basic cookbook (and something I lived with while writing How to Cook Everything), with wonderful (and literate) explanations about technique.