Recipes are not like religion. You don't need to follow them in blind faith. Use common sense and logic. Yes, I know what you are thinking; those are two things religion has a problem with but hell with it. When preparing a recipe, read through it a few times first to get familiar with it. Also, get everything ready before you start the recipe. There may be times when you need to question a recipe. If the recipe says to cook something at 350F for two hours and the food item is getting too brown after one hour then turn the oven down. When a cookbook is written the recipes are tested in a test kitchen (or at least we hope so) and the oven they use will most likely be different than yours. Also, every oven has hot spots so you need to know your equipment well and take this into account when following a recipe.
When purchasing a cookbook, don't just run to buy the cookbook of the hottest new celebrity chef. For example, if you want an Italian cookbook read a few and compare. Pick the one that makes sense to you. How do the recipes read to you? Easy? Hard to understand? Just because the chef is famous doesn't mean his or her recipes will be better. What I look for in a cookbook is not just recipes but does the chef teach you more than just recipes. Are there tips, some background info and so on so forth.
Till next time