Too many cookbooks and that's okay

As I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, I stumbled on this article from Inc. "Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You'll Ever Have Time to Read" and immediately felt a sense of relief. My excess of riches in the cookbook department is well documented and with 2017 being an epic year for cookbooks and 2018 releases already exciting me, I felt somewhat vindicated when I read Inc.'s piece.

Yes, I am the same woman who wrote a piece on how to downsize your collection and I still stand by that piece. Even I have to admit that I have cookbooks that I will never be able to cook from and that's okay. Books that aren't dog-earred from use or splattered with batter, are still an inspiration to me and can spark creativity when I head into the kitchen remembering something I read that I want to try.

I was filling my son's weekly medication container - it is a safeguard to insure that I am providing the right dosages on hectic mornings or exhausted evenings - and realized the day to count out his pills comes faster and faster every week. Years are flying by and if we don't allow ourselves to find joy in everyday things what a waste of the incredible gift of life.

A stack of cookbooks that aren't used doesn't mean they aren't well-loved. As I review stacks of cookbooks, I keep the ones I adore and pass onto other cookbook lovers the titles, that while wonderful aren't something I truly love. Did The Joy of Cooking I donated mean anything to me? No.  But if I donated Eleven Madison Park's new set of books (which were gifted to me), I would be longing for it as it brings me inspiration.

This being said if your copy of The Joy of Cooking holds special meaning for you - wonderful. My copy wasn't given to me by anyone, it was one I picked up and thought it must be in my collection - but after twenty years of sitting on the shelf it went. We all need to find the things that bring us happiness in life - family, friends, cookbooks, and Le Creuset cookware (insert smiley face).

I have been coveting the Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and Modernist Bread sets of books and have decided that if I order them (which I will in March) that I will do a series of articles for Eat Your Books entitled Jenny vs. Modernist Cuisine tackling techniques that are new to me. That is my goal for 2018 to try new things. Life is too short not to do the things that bring joy.

What is something that you want to accomplish in 2018? Share your dreams in the comments here. Let's help each other accomplish our goals. 


Note: Photo above is one bookshelf that I keep my current work on and behind that first row my favorites. Other books are packed away or on shelves elsewhere until we move this Spring.


  • lsgordon  on  2/9/2018 at 11:08 AM

    I didn't realize there is Modernist Bread set of books as well as the Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Must add to my wish list when I win the lottery.

  • bakeswithlove2369  on  2/9/2018 at 11:09 AM

    I have become a bit of a, books, clothing ill never ashamed of how I got here from where I used to be...I dont even understand what goal is to unhoard...get rid of things I really dont need or want ...and make a point of cleaning a corner of the house every I had a plumbing the bedroom and the bathroom are my focus...embarrassed the plumber will see how ive been living...sad but true...this has become my motivation...2018..that and cooking more...i have enough cookbooks to build a house...seriously

  • Kristjudy  on  2/9/2018 at 11:15 AM

    Oh this article could not have come on a better day! I am missing my daughter who received her angel wings, 7 years ago, so much.. she used to say to me everyday, “Today Mother., I hope you find your joy “..well I am off to order a new cookbook to give me joy. Thank you Jenny.

  • EmilyR  on  2/9/2018 at 11:16 AM

    The Japanese even have a word for this - Tsundoku... those stacks of books we intend to read that pile up. I wonder if there is a version for cookbooks. I appreciate both your ambition and honesty. Your modernist series definitely piques my interest. If I get the time, I’d like to work on my pastry skills. It’s more an issue of not having enough people to eat the food. I’ve donated to the “Bake America Great” bake sales but the stars have to align for me to have time and the bake sale to be happening.

  • annmartina  on  2/9/2018 at 1:50 PM

    I've been feeling guilty about the room my cookbooks take up, etc. I need to just relax and enjoy them when I can. I'm thrilled to be absolved from my indifference I've always felt to the copy of The Joy of Cooking that I received 35 years ago for a wedding present. I have never found it useful. Just don't try to take away my Momofuku Milk Bar, Bravetart, Cravings or Dinner in an Instant books

  • Sueskitchen  on  2/9/2018 at 3:28 PM

    Jenny - my friend, my enabler, the chick who gets me - Today is my/our 39th anniversary (yes we married when we were toddlers) and in this past year, we have sold our house, lost our jobs, found a fantastic new place to live, gotten new jobs. Our children have blessed us with a pregnancy, she's due in July, an engagement, they are planning a fall wedding and our 3rd child moved in with his girlfriend. I sit in the office area of my living room surrounded by specially built in shelving filled with cookbooks. Through it all in this less than average year , the cookbooks are my one constant. They are where I turn for diversion, good recipes, and food stories. They are the norm, the reminder that everyone is alike in one way. We all eat. Those who are lucky learn to cook from these books, making life all the sweeter.

  • ccav  on  2/9/2018 at 4:41 PM

    I turn to cookbooks for inspiration, information, beautiful stories about beautiful places. So many things to try, so many things to learn! I have way too many cookbooks and art books. They are my one constant, too. Glad to be amongst others who "get it" :-)

  • hihothepatio  on  2/9/2018 at 5:43 PM

    I was in a conversation the other day with my decorating guru daughter, as we were sitting in my family room. She says, as she is looking at at least 4 stacks of cookbooks strategically placed around the room, stacked books are sort of a thing right now...I just looked at her....and smiled....Today I flipped through two I just got from the library, which included a brand new 2018 America's Test Kitchen, How To Roast Everything, and the 2017 A FarmGirl's Table, it's basic, but it speaks to me, and it is the second time I have had it checked out. I may buy both books, and two others on my list, hey, it's my birthday month! Tonight I am cooking from BH&G Mexican Cookbook published in 1977, using a splattered page recipe Arroz con Tomate, Spanish Rice, I have been making for 40 years, it is the best! My cookbook collection is a treasure, about 1000 volumes on EYB and another maybe 1000 including magazines and antiques and pamphlets that are not listed. There will never be too many, and they continue to entertain, intrigue, guide and teach me! I have parted with a few now and then, but it is difficult, even when there are valid reasons, they are all old friends.

  • Smokeydoke  on  2/9/2018 at 6:48 PM

    "They are all old friends...." so true. I love that statement. Some are posh, some are exciting and new. Some are old fashioned, old-at-heart Some are mentors and teachers But they're all old friends.

  • manycookbooks  on  2/10/2018 at 12:47 PM

    My philosophy is this: one can never have too many cookbooks. Most of us have passions. Mine is cookbooks. I read them, for the most part, like people, who read fiction (which I don't really enjoy). I also keep a spreadsheet of recipes from each book that I would most definitely want to try....some, not so much. I have donated many over the years, but I still keep adding to my at 6,283. While some claim I am a hoarder, perhaps they're right, but I get enormous pleasure from my neatly organized and cataloged "hoard". There are worse things!

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