I love to read cookbooks. I collect and read cookbooks like other people read novels. Not just when I need a recipe, either. Last fall my mom sent me three cookbooks from her collection that kept me entertained for the whole winter season. One was called Mediterranean Harvest, one from Mystic, Connecticut, where I spent much of my childhood, and one was a collection of recipes from lighthouse families in and around the Boston area, where my mom spent much of her early life. I learned the differences between soil compositions in olive growing regions in Europe, the history of Cod fishing in the Atlantic and, well, that lighthouse keepers don’t eat very well. The point is that good cookbooks have more to offer us than interesting recipes. They can change how we view our food and shape our relationship with that essential and intricate love affair going on between our mouths and our environment. That is why it is important to buy actual cookbooks, not just look for recipes online. While getting a quick idea for something to make for dinner is invaluable, the knowledge, experience and insight that went into that recipe are usually not included. Without that, we only get half the experience. Becoming a good cook, and a responsible eater, is more than learning how to make something a certain way. It is a process we embark on and develop as we eat, as we read, and as we garden and grow. Go pick out a new cookbook today, and see what you can learn. Do you have a favorite? What have you learned from it? Happy eating!