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I've been reshelving my cookbooks, a necessary operation from time to time, and it's made me wonder how other EYB members shelve theirs. EYB is the only place where I've ever encountered people whose cookbook habits resemble mine. My previous arrangement, chronological, was great in that it suffered no ambiguity, but otherwise a disaster. So I'm reverting to the arrangement before that, a mixture of subject and author.
As usual, I find very few cookbooks that I really want to discard and am reminded of some I need to purchase. Why, for instance, do I have Diana Henry's The Gastropub Cookbook: Another Helping but not the original Gastropub Cookbook? Must remedy that immediately.
Anyway, it's a fun job and has made me curious about how others perform it. My major classifications are:
baking and dessertsbelief (e.g. vegan, vegetarian)circumstance (e.g. cooking for one, picnics)dish (e.g. alcoholic drinks, stews)equipment & methods (e.g. grilling, preserving)ingredientquick & easyreferenceregion
and everything else alpha by author. How about you?
Haha I know what you mean. The shelves on my bookshelf have different heights so my largest books have to go on my designated shelf with the most clearance, which kind of impedes any consistent strategic arrangement! Luckily I can still slide them in vertically though. I can imagine your system must get frustrating sometimes.
I hadn't ever really thought about any "system" of arranging my cookbooks, but I guess I kind of have one without ever consciously classifying each book. I only have about three full shelves of cookbooks (80 or so), so I think I've organized them by some combination of author and a vague mental categorization like "style" of cooking... i.e. ginormous general books and reference (Gourmet books, A New Way to Cook, The I Love to Cook Book, Herbs and Spices) are together, food blogger books (Super Natural Cooking, Delicious Days, A Homemade Life) generally stay together, and all my overtly "world cuisine" books are kind of grouped together. Then there are my vintage books which I like to keep together because they're pretty and old and they belong together!To be honest though I don't fret about it because having only three full shelves of books I generally know where things are. I also have a habit of keeping a little stack at the end of one of the shelves with books I've been looking at most often. That's usually some combination of my recent purchases and seasonally relevant books. It works for me. But generally speaking, grouping by author is really the only thing that makes a difference to me at this point.
As someone with a “cookbook shopping” monkey on her back, let me preface my response by saying I’ve learned that even the very best system for organizing books is only as good as the amount of shelf space you have available in your home! Since joining EYB, I’ve purchased 3 additional bookshelves and, I still don’t have adequate space to accommodate my collection!
Ok, now I have that out of the way, here’s my system:
Single Ingredient Books (Chicken, Eggs, Quinoa, Tofu, Bacon, Beans etc)
General Purpose Books (Joy of Cooking, Good Housekeeping, Martha, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, NYT etc)
Wine & Food themed books
Food Reference/Education/Technique (latter including braising books, slow cooker/ing, Grilling)
Light and Healthy Eating
Quick / 30 Min/Express
International – (sorted by country and/or region)
Chef & Restaurant Books
Miscellaneous Books by Author Name
I also have a lot of pamphlet style books that I keep together in a cupboard and a shelf of “Antique/Vintage” cookbooks.
My bookshelves are scattered throughout the house. I have a small shelf in the kitchen that houses books I plan to use in the week(s) ahead and these books rotate w my menus and season. My laundry room is just off the kitchen and I have a tall bookcase in there that holds the books I use most frequently – essentially the first 10 categories I listed above. International and Chef & Restaurant books make up the largest part of my collection and they are kept in a separate area with their own designated bookcases (and a small table w stacks of the books that don’t fit there!) Yes, I need to buy yet another bookcase!
mcvl, regarding your Gastropub books. . . since their recipes were sourced from British pubs, I’d shelve those books in my International case, in the Great Britain section.
Yea, it's frustrating pretty much all of the time. I keep telling myself that someday when New York play time is over, I might actually have a house that I'll get to fill with bookcases. That is the only good thing I can think of for having to leave New York eventually!
When we lived in Brooklyn we had floor to ceiling bookshelves in most of the house. Cookbooks were in the main hall, outside the kitchen, or in the dining room.
When we left NYC, we intentionally decided not to have floor to ceiling book shelves. My wife's office, my office and one guest bedroom are the exceptions.
The guest bed room has The Library of America, my office a small professional library and my wife's office the majority of the cookbooks and all of the cooking magazines.
The books are arranged by subject as example New Orleans cooking, by series as example T-L Foods of the World or by author as example Julia Child. From time time to time an author will move from a subject group to their own.
Duplicates, books my wife finds not too useful and most of my books are filed in the basement along with the rest of my library.
We have about 700 cookbooks and magazines going back to 1980. I've an additional 4-5000 books, fiction, biography, cooking and professional.
Totally useless, like most systems, but mine are organised with the tallest books at one end, and the shortest at the other. Some never-read books are stashed behind the small books. Works for me. /Shrug.
My collection is much smaller than many EYBers, so my method is probably not widely applicable. When I joined EYB, there were only about ten cookbooks in the kitchen, and even then not all together on a shelf. The many cookbooks that belonged to my mother were in the sitting room. Entering them in EYB and reviewing the list inspired me to integrate some of those inherited cookbooks with mine, put the ones I'm most likely to use in the kitchen, and cull the rest down to keepers and ones to donate.Now there are three two-foot shelves of cookbooks in the kitchen, and they're in much more frequent use than before Eat Your Books. My organizing principle for them is the same as with utensils and cookware: most often used closest to hand (top shelf), least often bottom shelf, the rest on the middle. The beauty of EYB is that all of the books I've kept are now accessible wherever they are. They're all bookmarked by location: kitchen, sitting room, library (!very helpful, our local library has many I'm interested in), and wishlist (not here YET).If I had two or three times the number of cookbooks, I'd probably organize them by type: general/reference, ethnicity/region, etc. That's how much my much larger collection of gardening books are stored -- vegetables, perennials, shrubs, fruit, single-plant focus (roses, peonies, etc.), garden design...
As my cookbook collection has grown over the years I have developed the following system for organizing my cookbooks:
I have all of my ethnic cookbooks grouped by country:
Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Morrocan, Jewish, Mediterranean, etc
All of my Asian cookbooks are on one set of shelves in the kitchen and the rest of the ethnic/international cookbooks are on another set of bookshelves.
Then I group cookbooks that do not fall into an ethnic category as follows:
Fish/Seafood, Vegetarian, Rice and Grains, Beans and Legumes, Vegetables, Salads and Salad Dressings, Resturant Chefs, Multipurpose cookbooks (e.g. How to cook everything, NY times, etc), fruits, sorbets/Ice cream, breads,
Finally, my cooking magazines are all in order by date by magazine, Cooks Illustrated, Eating Well both the old ones and the new versions, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Food and Wine. In EYB I have added the location (room or book shelf description and shelf number) as bookmarks and it makes books quite easy to find. Hope this helps
Well, I have way too many. I collect cookbooks and I also love reading cooking magazines although I am trying to pare down. Don't seem to be doing much good at it either. I just retired from my job and I am finally in the process of trying to organize them. I have shelves all over the place as my house is rather small. LOL.
A disclaimer upfront: As an obsessive compulsive, and before joining EYB, it was important to be able to find a cookbook quickly which necessitated having categories. So I have a Word document (table format) with a list of cookbooks, numbered in the order they come into my library. The table contains Title, Picture of Cover, Author, Publisher, Main Category, SubCategory, and two columns for location on bookshelves. I also have a column for the price because it gives me great pleasure to see all the bargains which helps to rationalize the ridiculous number of books.
For the two locations columns, the first is the bookcase location (A, B ... E, etc. for each bookcase) with the shelf location: (1,2,3, 4,5). A book on the top shelf of the first bookcase is A-1, a book on the bottom shelf of the 3rd bookcase is C-5. For categories that are very large (baking, special diets), the second column tracks the location of each book on the shelf. (This is handy for getting the book back in it's proper place after using it if I forget to mark it with another turned book or if I pull out a lot of books at one time.)
Also have the categories labeled on each shelf of the bookcases. Because I use the books every day, I'm pretty familiar with where each category is located, but I can always do a Word search, or a Word sort to locate a specific book, category, author, etc. With EYB, it is now a "piece of cake" to find what I'm looking for.
Since EYB, I've been able to locate the tons of cookbooks I have in various places. Zowie! Really? I have this book that looks so good? [Never mind the stack in a low cupboard of those duplicates that I thought looked good TWICE.] I have my own personal not-too-logical way of categorizing, and with EYB, I now can find books that I've put into "celebrity chefs" instead of "famous restaurants", etc.
One thing I now do is to put a small "dot" (Avery label intended for garage sales, probably) on the first page/inside cover of a book. On that dot, I write the shelf number. Helps immensely when I pull 10 books to peruse for a risotta recipe, and then don't remember where to put them back. A laptop sits in the family room so EYB can tell me where I've bookmarked this book...and every book without a dot gets one before be returned to its proper place.
My collection of about 100 cookbooks is in a big stack that shifts all the time. I simply scan through it to find what I want, not very effective but somewhat workable.
But "my" really big collection is owned by all the local public libraries. I rather like their inventory system, and the fact I can reserve on line. And as long as I can plan ahead, I usually can get the book I want, when I want.
That said, I feel both envy and fear when I read about your collections. I can see the alure, and I can totally see myself indulging in more book ownership.
Do any of you use the library collections?
I had to smile when I read your post - my personal collection also shifts, with those books at the front, that I want to cook from in the coming weeks. They are on various shelves in our open plan living-room-kitchen. Of course, with EYB life is now much easier!
And as director of a public library here in Switzerland I truly appreciate your comment about libraries! What would the world be without them!
Jeanne - so nice to hear back from you! My mother is also a librarian. Libraries are our biggest friends.