As someone with a “cookbook shopping” monkey on her back, let me preface my response by saying I’ve learned that even the very best system for organizing books is only as good as the amount of shelf space you have available in your home! Since joining EYB, I’ve purchased 3 additional bookshelves and, I still don’t have adequate space to accommodate my collection!
Ok, now I have that out of the way, here’s my system:
Single Ingredient Books (Chicken, Eggs, Quinoa, Tofu, Bacon, Beans etc)
General Purpose Books (Joy of Cooking, Good Housekeeping, Martha, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, NYT etc)
Wine & Food themed books
Food Reference/Education/Technique (latter including braising books, slow cooker/ing, Grilling)
Light and Healthy Eating
Quick / 30 Min/Express
International – (sorted by country and/or region)
Chef & Restaurant Books
Miscellaneous Books by Author Name
I also have a lot of pamphlet style books that I keep together in a cupboard and a shelf of “Antique/Vintage” cookbooks.
My bookshelves are scattered throughout the house. I have a small shelf in the kitchen that houses books I plan to use in the week(s) ahead and these books rotate w my menus and season. My laundry room is just off the kitchen and I have a tall bookcase in there that holds the books I use most frequently – essentially the first 10 categories I listed above. International and Chef & Restaurant books make up the largest part of my collection and they are kept in a separate area with their own designated bookcases (and a small table w stacks of the books that don’t fit there!) Yes, I need to buy yet another bookcase!
mcvl, regarding your Gastropub books. . . since their recipes were sourced from British pubs, I’d shelve those books in my International case, in the Great Britain section.