This year saw an uptick in remarkable food books that offer so much more than just recipes. Kogi BBQ founder Roy Choi gave us a look at his childhood growing up as a social outsider on the streets of Los Angeles, while ramen savant Ivan Orkin recounted the unlikely story of a man from Long Island opening up a celebrated noodle shop in Tokyo. World-famous Noma chef René Redzepi published his actual journal alongside a flickable photo album, and the team behind Eleven Madison Park and NoMad showed us what “New York cuisine” truly means. But then, of course, there are recipes—ranging from Four & Twenty Blackbird’s “Salted Caramel Apple Pie” to Redzepi’s “Summer Game and The Forest Floor.”

Here, we take a look at ten books that are at times whimsical, at times tear-jerking, but always captivating and written with a distinct point of view. They will offer a glimpse into the minds of the chefs you love, and what drives them. (Oh, and there’s one that’s just about cheese balls, because cheese balls are awesome.) Did we mention these books make great gifts, too?

Take a look inside some of the year’s standout food books, and add them to your Christmas list before it’s too late.