How do you store your cookbooks?

Joined Dec 30, 1999
This question was inspired by Kimmie's post at the "form over function" thread.

We all have a collection of cookbooks which probably doesn't get smaller. How do you sort them? Where do you keep them (kitchen counter, cabinets, closets, stand alone shelves, shelves on the wall)? Do you have a cookbook on "display" in a plate holder? Do you have blank recipe books you write your creations in or keep them on your computer? Do you use them all or do you trade unused ones at the used book store?
Joined Mar 13, 2001
In my newly renovated kitchen, I now have the luxury of storing my cookbooks into a large cabinet in which hubby had to build in even more shelves. I like to sort my books by themes: Breadbaking, pastry, Italian, Spanish, Indian, French etc.

I do own two blank recipe books (one is full of recipes jotted down from TV cooking shows and the other one is still pristine). I also have a huge collection of recipes on my computers (at home and at work). At work, I actually have a replica of my home computer, copied onto a CD-ROM!!

I used to have a cookbook on "display", on the butcher block, resting into a plexiglass bookholder. The cookbook of choice would change depending on my mood. The French Laundry occupied that spot of honor for a long time!

I haven't dealt with the magazines yet: there's 4 if not 5 boxes. I'm thinking of using stand alone shelves in the laundry room :lol:

Do you use them all or do you trade unused ones at the used book store?

Would you trade any of your children?? :confused:
Joined May 26, 2001
Unused cookbooks? What's that? They are all fair game for researching new ideas, or just bedtime reading. Even if I never, ever, make a single recipe from one, I still think it has value as a resource.

Last time I looked, I had about 500 cookbooks (not including back issues of Saveur, Food Arts, Australian Vogue Entertaining + Travel, and assorted other mags). I have everything catalogued (an Excel spreadsheet). Most of them are filed in order of category. All but 2 of the books* are in my office at home -- in built-in bookcases, a stand-alone bookcase next to a filing cabinet, and stacked up on top of another office unit. Needless to say, I need more bookshelf space, but have not been able to wrest any away from my hubby/business partner, who has his stuff spread out a lot more. Since we live in a loft-style apartment, with the office smack in the middle, it's no problem to go back and forth from office to kitchen.

BTW: I also have 3 file drawers full of recipes, restaurant reviews, and articles on food and restaurants.

*The only 2 cookbooks I keep in the kitchen are the instruction book for my microwave, and Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet. 'Cause I ALWAYS need help when I try to nuke anything, which isn't very often.

If anyone is interested in how I have things categorized, send me a PM.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
My cookbook collection currently lives on a chrome rack with wheels at the feet. They are arranged by topic and I've put an example title next to each category. I have between 200-225 now. I realize there are some to which I refer on a regular basis like Joy (the OLD one...not the new one which I don't own) and some I grab for specific purposes, like the ethnic ones or the cake decorating ones. You don't have to use a book every day for it to be a good purchase. It's only got to be there when you need it to earn its place on the shelf. (Top Shelf books are not often used and are out of reach - regularly used books are more at eye level and a bit lower.)

Holidays - Gift How-To's...Gifts From Your Kitchen
Single Subject...Bread Alone
Definitive Guides...New Professional Chef
Yearbooks-School Publications...Cooking at the Academy
Multi-Volume Collections...Woman's Day Encyclopaedia of Cookery
Baking-Sweets-Cake Decorating...Gourmet's Best Desserts
Canning-Preserving...Putting Food By
Antiques-Sentimental...Dionne Lucas
Multi-Chef Compilations...Becoming A Chef
Ethnic-Regional...The Cuisine of Armenia
Single Chef Authors...Entertaining
Novelty-Cooking Related-Non-Recipe...Zagat Marketplace Guide

*My Woman's Day Encyclopaedia of Cookery was my mother's. You'd be surprised how good some of those old recipes are.
Joined Apr 26, 2001
The regularly used ones go on bookshelves I had built into one side of the island in the kitchen. (I never did see the point of making half of your cooking surface into a breakfast area, and I don't find stools comfortable anyway.) Then, the old ones occupy about half of the small library my house has. And the modern ones that are only used occasionally are scattered all around the house.

As for a display stand, I never seem to have enough counter space anyway, so why waste it showing off a book? Especially if it isn't one that's regularly used.

I'm impressed by the organization some of the respondents have. I'd love to have time to systematically organize my books. As it is, any research exercise starts with sacking the house for the right books. I've been looking for an Algerian cookbook for weeks. I know it's around here somewhere, and there's a recipe in it I want to play around with again.
Joined Feb 11, 2002
I think it's at my house, brreynolds, underneath a stack of Saveur and
La Cucina Italiana!:D


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I have a big bookcase in the kitchen. Most of my cookbooks are there. Organised by subject::

Cuisine Of The world
References & Techniques
Pastry & Dessert
Single Subject

I have about 100 cookbooks. They don’t all fit in the kitchen so there is another bookcase in the hallway. It was suppose to be for my other books but already one shelf has been taken over by cookbooks.

I always have a few on the coffee table and on the nightstand.

My own recipes are all in the computer, divided by categories. A few years ago I decided to adopt the index card format. They are all in a box divided by categories. I also made a CD containing all my recipes, articles and food related pictures. I update the CD regularly.

Magazines are easily accessible, they’re store on a shelf in the closet. I kind them divided by title and months. All except for all the December issues who are all store together. I always go nuts with magazines in December.

Do I use them all? Absolutely. And most important I love them all.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
I've ruined the bookshelfs in our home office from the weight. Their over flowing, I shouldn't guess how many books I have it borders on burden. I'd like to loose most of my cook books (NOT baking books), I just don't have the interest anymore...just a keep a couple favorites for home cooking. But the idea of getting pennys for them breaks my heart.

But my favorite baking books are all down in my art studio off the family room so every night I can easily grab a book while relaxing.

I've finally backed up my recipe file on the computor, wish I had done it years ago cause I suffered when I lost my whole mousse file. Still realizing I can't find some recipes again. That was a hard lesson.

This makes most people cringe but I cut up every magazine I get and only keep the recipes I truely want. Then I file them so I can find any recipe in a minute.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
My books are everywhere because they are numerous.

I do not keep books in my kitchen. I am manic with keeping them in perfect condition so they are all relaxing in my Library divided by category.

They are many so I use the Dewe system that they use in Public Libraries and all of them carry an index number and have a card and an electronic index stored in my pc.Exactly like a Library.

When I need one I just copy the basic recipe on a piece of paper.

I try to write down the menus I have served because there are periods that we were having almost every night guests.

As for the magazines. I have found as solution to scan some recipes and store them in CD roms.

This is the only solution I have found convenient.

Giving away my books????



Joined Apr 4, 2000
You're right Wendy. I don't know how you can cut out magazines. I am maniac when it comes to magazines and books. When I use one it stays on the table, far away from heat, water and flour.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
I have a bookcase at work in my office full of cook books . Also next to that I have a rack of 5 milk crates tied end on end which I use as a make shift book case . Kind of rustic but it fits the kitchen . Also my chef and cooks realy enjoy comin in the office and looking through all the different books . It keeps the interest and the creative juices flowin also . Knowledge is power so keep readin .
Joined Nov 29, 2001
As obvious as it is, I eventually realized that if my books are not organized, I spend at least 15 minutes scanning the spines to find the one I'm looking for. Half the time, I forget which one I'm looking for when I have to absorb every title I own. Right after Christmas, I took every single book off the shelf and placed them in piles. The piles really created themselves as I grouped titles together. Now when someone asks me about a recipe or I'm looking for a book, I know exactly where to look and I get to start cooking faster :).
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Many years ago I stopped cutting up magazines because I found it more a pain to organize the little odd-shaped slips of paper created when you cut recipes out. Also, if you want something from the other side of the recipe, you're screwed.

After years of subscribing to (at different times, for different durations...) Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Cook's Illustrated, Fine Cooking, Cooking Light, Eating Well, Martha Stewart Living and Saveur, I decided it was time to come up with an acceptable formula by which to purge less than useful magazines. So here's what I came up with:

Keep all of the following:
Saveur, for its sheer ethnicity and colloquial charm, not to mention the food pix are killer and I've used a million recipes from this magazine; Martha Stewart Living craft ideas and home keeping as well as food; Fine Cooking, Cook's Illustrated for their highly technical content.

Dumped all Cooking Light and Eating Well. For a time, I regretted this, then I reminded myself that eating and health guidelines vary wildly from year to year and lots of that info is probably outdated...LOL.

Formula for discarding Gourmets, Bon Aps was as follows:

Save all November and December issues from every year I have. Save any issue in which I had a recipe, tip or letter published.
Save any issue that was extremely specialized, i.e., preserving food, specific (non-winter) holidays, etc.

This helped a great deal and I was able to "lighten the load."

I also have several issues of a magazine called Cuisine which is now out of print. I won't part with any of those. One of the covers features the back of a bald head...James Beard's.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I am impress Chiffonade. I don't think I could ever throw a magazine out or cut them. I do know I'll never use 99.9% of the recipes in those magazines yet I couldn't throw them out.

Have you noticed that for the last few years December issue aren't as good as they used to be? Less candy recipes, home made gifts ideas, etc.
Joined Dec 6, 2001
Husband built me a very pretty bookcase, its in my dining room right off the kitchen. Its also full to the brim! Can never have too many cookbooks. Does anyone do like me, when you are lacking for a good book to read, just grab a cookbook and read? I love reading cookbooks.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
...But I love curling up with a good cookbook!

Re: Unused Cookbooks...I used to hold onto these indefinitely. They were generally ones I did not purchase, but received as gifts from well-meaning friends and relatives trying to buy me books I didn't have. I put those on BTW, is where I found an original copy of Martha Stewart's Entertaining from 1982. She just revised the dust jacket to include an updated photo - and I'm sure she nuked the original dedication to her (now former) husband, Andy.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Hey are those orig. Martha books now collectable? I never thought about it but I suppose one day they will be, if not now. COOL I have all of them, one autographed too. Her soft cover magazine style books have self destructed from heavy use.......hope their never valuable, toooo late.

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