Here's a look at French pastry master Pierre Hermé's first cookbook in English in a decade, Pastries (preorder on Amazon). This is some serious pastry: 50 classic desserts are given historical context by French food writer Ève-Marie Zizza-Lalu, and then Hermé provides both a classic recipe and his personal riff on it. Read it cover to cover, and you'll have a very good idea of how French pastry got to where it is today.
But forget learning: the photos are far too distracting. The photography, done by Laurent Fau, shows such perfectly pretty pastries one wonders how anyone could actually bring themselves to eat them. Intense cookbook porn ahead: don't say you weren't warned. Pastries will be published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang on March 1.