There are the cookbooks you want to buy—you know, those ones with glorious images of colorful foods styled with artful effortlessness on pretty platters—and then there are the cookbooks you have to buy. Physical ailments, reduced circumstances, changes in household status (married to newly single, for instance): these things can all grab a varied and lively diet and fling it firmly into “what a drag” territory. Cookbooks written for such an audience can truly be lifesaving, but ask most any person with a jaw wired shut, or an ulcer, what kind of cookbook they’d rather be using, and I’m pretty sure they’d answer “the one that has recipes for what I actually want to eat.”
Then there are cookbooks that are sad because the author was clearly out of touch with reality. As in “Gee, I bet a lot of people would love to read the collected recipes of a convicted serial killer.” Sometimes there’s even a crossover between the two, the “sad because it’s necessary” cookbook and the “sad because WTF?” cookbook. See if you can identify any of those in these beauties we collected together.