Which cookbooks to keep when you're moving or pruning

Moving books

There's a good read from the Guardian's Australia FoodBlog on what makes for a great cookbook. In Cooking up a classic: What's the recipe for a timeless cookery book? Sarah Bejamin writes that "Authority, style and innovation are the main ingredients characterising the cookbooks that have stood the test of time."

The article highlights some classic Australian authors that would be well worth investigating, and also links to the Guardian's 50 best cookbooks of all time - again well worth investigating.

But one piece of advice really stood out - which books to keep if you're moving (or pruning, or just trying to keep ahead of available shelf space). Her advice? "Anything of real sentimental value and for the rest, pack only well-thumbed classics."  We'd have to agree, but if anyone would like to argue to the contrary, we'd love to hear your ideas.

Photo by Sarah Rose on Flickr


  • TrishW  on  10/21/2013 at 11:28 AM

    They all have sentimental value, don't they? I keep boxing my old cookbooks for a yard sale and then can't seem to part with them. Even those not well-worn from use are keepers for me if they are inspiring in any way. I used to feel guilty buying new cookbooks and cooking magazines, but realized that I like to read them in the same way someone reads a history book or a science magazine.

  • robinorig  on  10/21/2013 at 12:19 PM

    Have to agree w/ TrishW, I love just reading the cookbooks, flipping through them for inspiration and ideas. They are my favorite bedtime reading. Classics are good, but might not be your favorite cookbooks. I would weed out a book if there are only a recipe or two that interest me or the type of cooking doesn't interest me (doesn't happen very often!) The other way would be if most of the recipes are online.

  • amy06  on  10/21/2013 at 2:13 PM

    Good advice- and so agree with the other two comments having also enjoyed my cookbooks as history, inspiration, and friends. I have downsized 3 times now, editing my once huge collection. Pearl Bailey, bought first from a sale table and since purchased and given away her cookbook 4 times and replaced 3. Missing it now, realizing that it is so much more than a cookbook and dear to my heart, best go to for comfort food. I haven't replaced many departed books, but miss them, especially the ones acquired from places near and far.

  • rlmiller  on  10/21/2013 at 9:24 PM

    I don't think I could give up any of my cookbooks. Even those that I don't use regularly carry a history.

  • Queezle_Sister  on  10/24/2013 at 7:06 PM

    I have only gotten rid of a few cookbooks. Those selected for the give-away pile usually feature name-brand products, and have not proven reliable after a few tries. My (short) list includes a dessert cookbook (confirmed a disaster in reviews on Amazon), and a Thai cookbook (from a yard sale) that seems to have been underwritten by Dole Pineapple. I don't feel guilty about my collection, the equivalent of a great home-cooked meal at a restaurant would cost more than most cookbooks!

  • LS Gourmet  on  10/25/2013 at 8:33 AM

    I have no guilt about collecting cookbooks. It's an addiction that benefits me, my family and friends so what could be bad about it? I am particular about what I buy, even though my choices often differ from the "hot" reviews. I like to buy books I know I'm going to use. For me, that eliminates books on desserts, vegan cuisine, butchering at home, molecular gastronomy, semi-home made cooking and others in that vein. Give away my cookbooks? Hell no!

  • boardingace  on  10/27/2013 at 10:23 PM

    I would agree with her because I don't like having too much stuff around the house that I don't use. It's such a personal preference, though. I have seven cookbooks and 16 magazines that I use all the time.

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