The Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer
Buy It Here: amazon.com
Why It Mattered: It's the most popular cookbook in America
This tome of a cookbook is one of the great self-publishing success stories—kinda. In 1931, Rombauer wrote and published by herself a cookbook she called The Joy of Cooking. Though it required her life's savings, it was something she felt necessary, her options seeming limited following the tough death of her husband. Of course, the book took off, eventually occupying a place of biblical importance in kitchens across America. It has been in print continuously since 1936. But Rombauer likely lost millions thanks to the shenanigans of the publisher she eventually worked with. Still, the book made millions of Americans feel like they could hang in the kitchen, altering the way we eat in a massive way.