The case for not clearing out your cookbooks


By now most everyone is familiar with Marie Kondo’s ‘KonMari’ method of cleaning and organizing. It is a great way to reduce clutter and relieve the stress that can accumulate along with one’s possessions. Some people have items that are off limits to this method, however, as Maria Spiedel explains to indexed blog The Kitchn. Maria explains why she is never going to ‘KonMari’ her cookbook collection.

Spiedel explains the sentimental attachment she has to many of the cookbooks in her collection, and why each of them ‘spark joy’ for her. It has been a lifetime of reading, learning, and cooking, starting with her very first cookbook: My Learn to Cook Book, a gift from her grandparents that she received at the tender age of eight. She also recalls a time shortly after graduating from college when she experienced pesto for the first time. That revelation prompted her to purchase Marie Simmons’s 365 Ways to Cook Pasta, along with her first appliance, a small food processor.

Discovering The Silver Palate Cookbook at a friend’s house also made an impression on Spiedel: “It was 20 years old at the time, but new to me and brimming with the kind of modern dishes someone whose acquaintances were dating professors should know about. Someday soon, I would be serving up chicken Marbella for hoards of the friends I still needed to make. I couldn’t reverse-engineer my life to gain the worldliness of my friend and her sister, but I could inhale  The Silver Palate Cookbook like a novel.”   

Memories like these are why Spiedel will never part with the vast majority of her cookbooks. As she tells The Kitchn “To answer Kondo’s central question: Yes, yes, yes! All these books bring me joy!”

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  • BethNH  on  April 28, 2017

    If the books continue to bring her joy then she is indeed following the method.
    I have found about 2 dozen cookbooks on my shelves just this year that do not bring me joy. They are books I have no sentimental attachment to and know that I will never look at again. I was happy to donate these books to a charity and hope that someone else does find joy in them.

  • Creative.Juices  on  April 28, 2017

    When I was a new bride I began collecting cookbooks like my husband collected baseball cards. The collection became unwieldy, and I realized I wasn't even looking at many of them because the ones I was using weren't delivering on their promise of something delicious to put on the table. Now, though my collection is "ample" there isn't a book I would remove, and look forward to using them even more often, thanks to Eat Your Books. <3

  • manycookbooks  on  April 28, 2017

    Good for you, Maria! My cookbook collection is a source of many things: social history, food trends, people, cultures, nostalgia and much more. There are so many 'genres' of cookbooks, that one can group them in many ways. For example, I have a fun shelf I have named "Sex", which includes titles such as "The Playboy Gourmet", "The How to Keep Him After You've Caught Him Cookbook", "50 Ways to Feed your Lover", "The Party Girl Cookbook", "The Bride and Groom's First Cookbook", and if one follows it to a (sometimes) conclusion, "The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook", etc. It tells a lot about us as a society and about our values. For me, in addition to cooking a plethora of recipes, cookbooks are more interesting to me as history, than reading a history textbook.

  • MargaretM  on  May 25, 2017

    Don't 'KonMari' your cookbooks until you have used Eat Your Books for a year or two. Hidden gems might just appear where you last expected them!

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