Lauren Braun Costello and Russell Reich, Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft (RCR Creative Press, $21.95). I can barely boil water, but I know an immensely informative guide when I read one, and this one fills the bill. Fans of Reich’s Notes on Directing, among whom I number myself, will recall the drill: Notes on Cooking is a 143-page list of 217 dos and don’ts for cooks, aspiring and otherwise. Some are starkly practical (“Fish should not smell”) and others subtly suggestive (“Embrace the mundane”). The advice–I’m told–is sound, the writing crisp, the design pleasing to the eye. Stuff a stocking or two with this one, and buy another for yourself (TT).