Me and my cookbooks

Jane Kelly with her cookbooks

At a time when the press relentlessly insists that no one is interested in cooking at home anymore, there is great joy in realizing that there are many others ( EYB members) who enjoy the creativity and pleasure of sharing good food. So we wanted to celebrate our members by regularly publishing vignettes about members and their cookbooks. We're starting with one of our own - Jane Kelly, one of the co-founders of this site.

If you'd like to be featured, we'd love to have you. Just email us at


As many of you know, I started Eat Your Books because I wanted to use my cookbooks more - what started out as an idea to create an index of my favorite recipes developed into Eat Your Books.  Many members had the same idea - they've told us that they had created spreadsheets, databases and other systems - but there had to be something better. Hence, EYB.  And now I have over 200,000 recipes to select from every time I cook!  Actually I have more because I frequently look in the 100,000 online recipes on EYB - I love the daily addition of recipes from the wonderful blogs we've indexed and those that EYB members are adding to the site.

But my books are my passion - I have 1,349 and my collection is constantly growing. I started collecting them when I was in my early teens and have steadily added to them since then. My very first cookbook was the Joy of Cooking, which was given to me by my mother. I'm not sure why she gave me an American cookbook when we're English, but it has been heavily used over the years and is now almost falling apart.  

When I started an online site to sell cookbooks in the late 90's the collection grew considerably, and when I moved to the U.S. 15 years ago they all came with me.  I've been fortunate to have the room to store my collection though I've had to build a few more bookshelves since we started EYB.  Now the time has come to downsize as the kids are off to college.  And yes, all 1,349 are coming with me (well almost, I've done a tiny bit of culling) and they'll have to sit in boxes for a little while until the new shelves have been put in, but I think I can fit them all in. (This photo was taken before my move.)  I must admit 70 boxes of books do take up a lot of room!

Please email us and allow us to share your cookbook collection with our members - Happy Cooking ! Jane


  • Carla  on  7/24/2013 at 6:52 PM

    I had well over a thousand cookbooks until we made our last move. Try as I did, I was only able to cull about 300. No sooner were we moved I bought MORE cookbooks!!!! I absolutely love sitting in bed and just flipping through my books.

  • adrienneyoung  on  7/24/2013 at 8:34 PM

    Jane, what a beautiful thing! How do you organize them? Are you happy with the way it works for you? Will you do anything different after unpacking?

  • pokarekare  on  7/24/2013 at 9:18 PM

    Well, I do have a long way to go with only 300 odd cookbooks! However, I too would love to know how you organise them on your shelves - there are so many ways to do it and no matter what I do I still can't find the right one when I want it. I do so love order and method - I just can't seem to achieve it myself!

  • MelKettle  on  7/24/2013 at 9:58 PM

    I am ABSOLUTELY showing this to my hubby as he thinks I have far too many cookbooks - at only about 250. We recently renovated our kitchen and had purpose built bookcases put in, and I have almost run out of space. Also curious to know how you organise them.

  • Katnath  on  7/24/2013 at 10:12 PM

    Although my memory isn't great (that's why I have eyb), I love going to old familiar books and looking up recipes in my 1000plus cookbooks. I'm amazed that I remember as much as I do.

  • Lambsears  on  7/24/2013 at 10:29 PM

    I was an early adopter of EYB and will be forever grateful for your brilliant idea, Jane. While I have yet to reach your level of addiction, the service EYB offers means I get a lot more use from those I have and makes it much easier to justify all new acquisitions to my long-suffering husband. Actually, I suspect he has just given up! 😉

  • Jane  on  7/24/2013 at 11:15 PM

    I admit my collection may seem out of control to some people, but it is a passion (better than sports cars and golf in my opinion). And life should be about passion. I do organize them- by subject. My largest sections are baking/desserts and restaurant cookbooks. I use the baking books and read the restaurant books. Then I have ethnicity, vegetarian, meat, single-subject, etc. I generally know where any book is. And yes, I'm planning to use the same system with the new shelves in my (much smaller) condo. Maybe I should post a photo of my new shelves when they are finished.

  • Bonnie  on  7/25/2013 at 8:23 AM

    Jane, I love those bookshelves! I'm going to have to keep that in mind when we eventually move to a new home. Thank you for creating this site. It's been so wonderful to see my bookshelf online and to know I'm not the only person with this addiction :)

  • lehickey  on  7/25/2013 at 8:53 AM

    I don't feel bad about my cookbook collection any longer! Thank you!

  • CCF4  on  7/25/2013 at 2:50 PM

    Love it! I'll show Lori your picture, maybe she will quit giving me a hard time! Joy of Cooking was my first cookbook fact, after I graduated from college, a copy of "Joy" was my wedding gift to all of my friends as they got married (wouldn't want them to starve after all). I caught a LOT of grief over how just like a guy engineer that gift was, so when I decided to do something different, I got in trouble with my friends because they were *EXPECTING* to receive the book and the bride was looking forward to it....oh well....

  • TrishaCP  on  7/25/2013 at 9:59 PM

    Jane, please do post your new shelves once you move. Would love to see how you organize a collection like that in smaller digs. Your shelves there are like a beautiful bookstore! I have to say, it is funny to read everyone's notes about oppressing their significant others with the size of their cookbook collections. I have barely cracked 100 and am already hearing complaints! But from what others are posting, it sounds like I can tell him he is unreasonable to complain. Thanks EYB members! ;)

  • Karen  on  7/26/2013 at 6:04 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your picture of your books...seeing is believing and I don't think my husband believes that anyone else loves (and has more) cookbooks than me! Can't wait to show

  • twohobbits  on  7/26/2013 at 12:55 PM

    Jane, thank you for giving me all my friends back. This is an example of my favorite way to use EYB; I opened my refrigerator and found zucchini, radishes, cabbage & cauliflower and they all needed to be used now (I am a vegetarian). Within seconds I had several recipes to choose from. Love, love, love this program! Twohobbits

  • KimchiMom  on  7/26/2013 at 2:11 PM

    I am so jealous! :-) I love the built-ins!

  • pgarcia  on  7/28/2013 at 5:03 PM

    When a new box arrives from Amazon, I have to hide it until my husband leaves for golf every Saturday - just so I don't have to hear what he has to say about "more cookbooks!" I am so sad - just hauled all of my Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Saveur magazines from the 1990's to be recycled yesterday. It was tough, but I just do not have room for them!

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