The world's largest cookbook collection

cookbooks

Longtime Members of EYB may recall our interview in mid-2013 of EYB Member Sue Jimenez, who was at the time attempting to claim the world record for largest cookbook collection. In July 2013 she got the record, with an official tally of 2,970 (which shot up to 3,693 by that November). Sue remains the Guinness World Record holder for largest cookbook collection, and as Serious Eats explains, her current (unofficial) total is nearly 6,400 cookbooks! She frequently blogs about her collection at The Vintage Cookbookery, where she researches cookbooks for history, cultural and social trends, fads, technological changes, and much more.

In her interview with Serious Eats, Sue discusses how her collection began, and how it grew to be so large. When she was 18, her parents started her on this journey by giving her the entire  Time-Life Foods of the World series. She recalls making her first recipe, a cherry strudel, from the German volume. 

Sue points out that her current massive repository is actually her second cookbook collection. At one point she had about 800 books that she acquired from estate sales, thrift shops, and used-book stores. She collected these with the intention of selling them at a profit, but that didn't pan out so she donated them to a local library group. A few months later, Sue noticed that the group was selling the books, and says "My spouse had to practically tie me down to calm my panic at seeing my beloved books going to other homes, and to stop me from rushing down to re-purchase them."

She started collecting cookbooks again a few years later, and hasn't stopped since. Again, she purchased most of them from used-book stores and thrift shops, plus Edward Hamilton Bookshop, a remainder bookstore in Connecticut. Once her collection passed 1,000 books, Sue explains what happened next: "Having passed a neat, round number, I felt obligated to continue to the next neat, round number of 2,000. I promised my husband I would stop then. Well, you can figure out the rest." 

The photo above is one that Sue shared with us in 2013 - the Serious Eats article linked above provides a more recent image of one of the two rooms in her house that is filled with cookbooks. She and her husband moved to a bigger place to accommodate all of their books; her husband also has a collection (mostly science books) although it isn't as large as Sue's. She estimates that between them, they have about 9,000 books, or "enough to start up a small-town library." Of her 6,300+ cookbooks, Sue has 5,357 on her EYB Bookshelf.

5 Comments

  • Rinshin  on  5/25/2018 at 1:29 PM

    I would love to visit her collection.

  • sir_ken_g  on  5/25/2018 at 2:55 PM

    So does she actually use any of them?

  • manycookbooks  on  5/25/2018 at 3:57 PM

    I actually do use them, as you'll see if you read the article in the feature, "Obsessions", at www.seriouseats.com, which posted yesterday. Cooking is my hobby and reading cookbooks I not only get recipes and ideas, but love exploring food history, food cultures, trends, technological changes and how they have affected cooking, food in wartime, and much more. You'd be surprised how much you can learn about a country/culture and its' history by reading cookbooks. Thanks for your comment.

  • sir_ken_g  on  5/25/2018 at 5:25 PM

    "You'd be surprised how much you can learn about a country/culture and its' history by reading cookbooks." I agree. We travel quite a bit and love to bring back local cookbooks to use.

  • EmilyR  on  5/25/2018 at 6:09 PM

    Wow! That is quite the arsenal. Your appreciation, zeal for learning, and curiosity are very tangible, Sue. Thanks for sharing!

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