If you are reading this after December 24, please let this serve as a simple reminder of all the quality cookbooks available right now. The year 2013 saw a slight shift in the cookbook publishing world — where books were published not only as a guide to preparing meals at home, but also as a way to document the culture surrounding the food being prepared in a specific place (and in some cases, time).

Over the course of year, books have been published about the food of the Midwest, Japan, American South, Los Angeles and a hip Brooklyn pizzeria. And with so much great writing surrounding the glossy photos and recipes, reading cookbooks is not as weird as you would think. Place one on your nightstand and see how it goes. So if you happen to be reading this on Christmas Eve, chances are you still have a little bit of shopping left. Buying a cookbook is as simple as finding your local bookstore (big or small) and telling them that you want to purchase one of the great books listed below. 

The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen
While growing up in rural Minnesota, Thielen was raised around Friday walleye fries and booya community soup (look it up). But it wasn’t until she returned to the Midwest, after cooking professionally in New York City kitchens like Gramercy Tavern, that she truly understood the culinary aptitude on display in her home region. Often marginalized by the coast-centric, the Midwest comes alive through 200 recipes and numerous colorful sidebars. (Matt Rodbard)

Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee
Edward Lee is a former Top Chef and Iron Chef contestant, Louisville restaurateurfish sauce evangelist, bourbon expert and the kind of guy who encourages you to jump into a pool, fully clothed, at one of the many food festival after-parties we’ve closed down with the guy. His first book details the chef’s life journey from Brooklyn to Louisville — through recipes and erudite story telling. (MR)

Le Pigeon by Gabriel Rucker and Meredith Erickson
I'm a big fan of cookbooks I can read "for the articles." The stories, intros and technique how-tos in Gabriel Rucker's are personal and colloquial enough that by the end you feel like you guys are old pals. Rucker's showcases his style with dishes like foie gras-spiked spinach dip and a BLT made with cured lamb belly. (Jess Kapadia) 

The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli
The first time I saw Lemonade at the Delta LAX terminal I was so happy I could have cried. All I wanted was a massive pile of perfectly seasoned fresh vegetables with a side of lean protein, something you'll pay out the nose for at an airport, if you can find it at all. Lemonade's fresh, vibrant salads are taking over Southern California. (And Dubai). Their cookbook spills the secrets of their success, all while pulling off that super-photogenic cookbook vibe. (JK)

Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook (Edited by Dana Cowin)
Who better to learn from than the best chefs of the past quarter century? In honor of the 25th anniversary of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef awards, this compilation covers popular recipes from all the corners of the globe. Nobu Matsuhisa, Grant Achatz, Thomas Keller and Daniel Humm are just a few of the big names featured in the comprehensive collection. (George Embiricos)

Pork Chop by Ray Lampe
Everyone loves a good pork chop. Think you know everything there is to know about the seemingly simple food item? Think again. “Dr. BBQ” lends 60 meaty recipes – from the classics to the fresh ideas to the international to the extreme (we’re talking pork chop-stuffed French toast). Brunch just got a whole lot more interesting. (GE)

One Good Dish by David Tanis
Tanis writes the City Kitchen column in The New York Times and worked for decades as a chef at Chez Panisse. His passion for sensible, seasonally focused home cooking is illustrated in this book that is built around the idea that sometimes all you want is one perfect dish. Here, you will find 100 of them. (MR)

The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin and Michael Zusman
I'm definitely spoiled by the wealth of superb Jewish delis in New York City, but for those who crave the flavors away from home, there's this infinitely useful cookbook by the chefs at Portland, OR's Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen. All your favorite classic deli recipes are in there (homemade knishes, here we come!) plus a few you might not expect. (JK)

Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: With 50 Decidedly Grown-Up Recipes By Allison Robicelli and Matt Robicelli
Forget if you like or hate or really hate the idea of cupcakes for a moment. When talking about this book from the talented team behind Brooklyn bakery Robicelli's (cupcake specialists, if you will), it doesn’t really matter. As the title suggest, this is part memoir, part business case study (how to survive the worst recession in modern history is a recurring theme) and part recipe book. Also, the highest LOLs/page ratio of any book in this preview.  (MR)

The Icecreamists by Matt O’Connor
Few books are able to simply, yet beautifully, relay information so well. Matt O’Connor does with ice cream. After a colorful introduction, which includes a history lesson, the alchemy of frozen treats and “The Commandments of Cool,” O’Connor delves into the surprisingly easy-to-create recipes. What begins with simple vanilla continues with twisted classics and laced sorbettos and ends with spiked creams and iced cocktails. Sex Bomb ice cream, anyone? (GE)

Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
Ono, a New York City chef, and longtime collaborator Salat have published books dedicated to the art of Japanese grilling and hot pot cooking — two major pillars in the country's cuisine. With this latest release, they tackle all the white space in-between which they call soul cooking (read here for much more). There’s ramen, but that is only the start. There’s a chapter devoted to okonomiyaki, a savory pancake made with grilled seafood, bonito flakes, powdered aonori and a cross-cross of Kewpie mayo and ponzu sauce. Also, chapters on tempura, donburi (rice topped with weird/good things like omelets), kara-age (deep-fried chicken and seafood) and udon and soba. (MR)

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith
True fans of cheese, set aside your Tillamook cheddar cookbook and behold the wonders of Cowgirl Creamy Cooks. If you need the knowledge to back up your passion, look no further than this book by two of the greatest American cheesemakers today. Smell that? It's the fragrance of the best pairings, recipes and stories, and it's reignited our love affair with the good stuff. (JK)

The Food Of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen
You bet there's a great pho recipe in there, but the best thing about Australian chef Luke Nguyen's heavy bound tome is watching his culinary journey unfold in each chapter about a different region of Vietnam. You may think it's all noodle salads and summer rolls, but branch out into the less traveled areas for the Vietnamese food you won't find on a menu. (JK)

Roberta’s Cookbook by Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini, Katherine Wheelock
A pilgrimage to Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn for a late night (or possible early morning) pizza party, frozen drinks debauch, tasting menu, radio show taping or garden party has pretty much been a required move since they opened their beat-to-shit doors in 2008. And while chef-owner Carlo Mirarchi’s profile has shot to the moon, the food turned out of the wood-fired oven has remained so much the focus. This book is a testament to the food-first ethic (there’s no celebrity introduction of Mirarchi gracing the cover). Think more pasta and pizza “tricks” as well as ingredient-obsessed recipes like corn, 'nduja and purple basil. (MR)

The (Gluten-Free) Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook by Wendy Polisi
Gluten-free. It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. There are those who have been told to follow a specific diet, those who follow it believing in some sort of health benefits and a whole lot of people in the murky middle. Quinoa. It’s a food item that’s in the spotlight a lot, an item anointed a “superfood” by those who swear by it and those who can’t stand it alike. Polisi provides recipes applicable to all of these parties, using quinoa in salads, snacks, cereals, breads, burgers and desserts. There’s something for everyone here – and some recipes sure to make you claim your allegiance to the gluten-free life. (GE)

Summerland by Anne Quatrano
Quatrano operates some of Atlanta’s most celebrated restaurants including Bacchanalia, Floataway Café, Quinones and Abattoir — as well as a cook’s market, Star Provisions. In her first, highly anticipated, book she dedicates each chapter to a month on the calendar, beginning with September and ending with summer’s beautiful bounty. (MR)

Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint by Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying
As we find out in Orkin’s first book — a page-turning memoir (with some recipes) he wrote with Lucky Peach editor Chris Ying — there’s a meaty story to go along with a 30+ page ramen recipe (this is not a typo). And as the ramen master readies the opening of his Lower East Side noodle shop (read our interview), there is no better book to ready you the wait in line. Perhaps you can even read while waiting. (MR)

Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr
It’s a story of delicious coincidence. In the winter of 1970 food legends James Beard, Julia Child, Simone Beck, Judith Jones, Richard Olney and M.F.K. Fisher found themselves in Provence at roughly the same time — meeting, eating, cooking and talking (also arguing) with one another. The story is told through Fisher’s journal and a series letters from the period, which was unearthed by her great-nephew. (MR)

A Table At Le Cirque by Sirio Maccioni
Le Cirque has become one of New York City’s most iconic restaurants over the past half century, with an A-list of both alumni and clientele over the years. Featuring full-page, color photographs from some of the restaurant’s earliest and proudest days, this elegant tome is as much about storytelling as it is about sharing some of its most legendary recipes. (GE)