The winnowing

The first week of January: holiday roundups are over, and after a week of bingeing on festive food I need to get back on my treadmill, which kept getting covered in books throughout December.  Time for cookbook cleanup!  

Only problem is, somewhere between 200 and 300 books came in over the fall, I want to keep them ALL, and my bookshelves are already full.  It's time for some ruthless winnowing.  Heartbreaking, but there you have it.

This morning I rolled up my sleeves and hit the "Single-Subject" section of my library.  Do I really need 4 books on pasta?  8 books on meat cookery (and even more than that on seafood)?  Bit by bit, I part with a book here, a book there.  So long to the matched set of little gift cookbooks on Apples, Squash, and Tomatoes--so pretty, but not actually useful. So long to the fifth book just on soup.  Adieu to the Very Ambitious Salad book and the hardbound edition of the seafood book I use in paperback.  Farewell to the book on flavored butters--I think I can figure those out for myself.  Goodbye, disappointing stew book!

Book Image

All in all, I drop about 40 books into the "gift" pile.  Hurray!  Now I have room for I Love Meatballs! and Salsas of the World and yet another book of salad dressings!

To tell the truth, the single-subject section is actually the easiest to winnow.  Most of the books are not on Eat Your Books (an indexed book is harder to part with! don't you find?), and the quality is not as consistent or the depth of knowledge as great.  The main virtue of a single-subject cookbook is that it makes it easy to look up, say, a blueberry recipe when blueberries are in season.  But Eat Your Books makes that kind of search so easy anyway.

Tomorrow, I'm moving on to the Baking section, which--despite being the least used section of the  library--accounts for the most calories I consume over the course of a year.  But's that's OK.  At least I can find my treadmill now.


  • Cindy  on  1/4/2012 at 6:25 PM

    Oh wow- I've just been doing the very same thing! I don't have 200 to get rid of but each Christmas I get 4-6 new cookbooks and already have around 75- a lot for a small kitchen! So the weeding has begun! It's kind of like getting rid of old clothes for the new styles though- something refreshing and hopeful about it! I will cook this great food! (=I will wear these great pants!) :)

  • Jackie G.  on  1/4/2012 at 8:13 PM

    I read your post with much envy. I wish that I had even a small fraction of your problem, especially after seeing the book on this post, because I really, really, really love meatballs. Alas, no one sent me a copy. OOohhh, what is the chance that we live near each other? I would gladly lend a hand, and provide nourishment also. To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there 's the rub.

  • Leslie  on  1/4/2012 at 10:06 PM

    How wonderful a problem is that? Maybe its time for an EYB giveaway?

  • Susie  on  1/6/2012 at 10:50 AM

    Jackie, I'm in western Hey Jane, maybe we should have an EYB book swap section! I am sure there are lots of members cleaning out....

  • Jane  on  1/8/2012 at 3:10 PM

    It's something on our to-do list though way down. i envisaged a bookmooch type of thing. You get credits for books you send which you can then use for books you want. We don;t really want to get into money changing hands. I can see international postage being an issue though.

  • esther  on  1/8/2012 at 3:53 PM

    So, as this is not high on the priority list, why don't we all join BookMooch? International postage is factored into the points system (national "mooches" are one point, international "mooches" are three points). And most books will fit into a flat-rate priority envelope. And it is possible to reserve books for certain people. I have a few "health" and low-fat cookbooks I want to get rid of, and that are too heavy to just put back on BookMooch. But a direct swap could still be interesting.

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