Like many of you I have a plethora of cookbooks, ranging from the 50p markdown ones in garden centres and charity shops through to my old Cesarini and Kinton ones from the good old days! I may occasionally grouch about Mr Oliver but I still have his books.
Treat them as an aid to your culinary skills not as the 'be all and end all'. They should inform and guide you not rule with an iron fist. yes, some recipes need more careful following (such as baking) but be brave and EXPERIMENT!
I do have some favourites however and one of these is Jun Tanaka's 'Simple to Sensational'. Quite simply it is outstanding. It is the only cookbook I have bought that has prompted me to email the chef/author to congratulate them on their work (and he did reply, before you ask!).