Saturday, February 7, 2009

Decluttering the Cookbooks


Do you have too many cookbooks?

Here's an e-mail I just got from Kyoshi Susan Budge (whose dojo I highly recommend, both for the karate and the yoga classes) - reprinted with her permission.
Dear Friends of Omine Dojo,

I am trying to pare down my life and noticed I have acquired quite a lot of cookbooks, wonderful cookbooks. Truth is that Sensei Alex and I cook and eat very simply these days, in fact, it’s about twenty years since I did any fancy cooking. The habit of buying cookbooks didn’t stop however and there are lots of unused lovely ones here in the hallway of the dojo. Please come by and help me by taking some and using them.

There are some beautiful books on international cooking like Mexico and India, new books that I couldn’t resist from Thailand and Japan that are practically unopened, gorgeous vegetarian cookbooks, homely natural foods cookbooks, older great ones like the Silver Palate duo, back issues of Cooks Illustrated, Zen and Tibetan cooking, pasta and healthy noodle books galore with great photos, and so on and so on. There are even great ones that I put back on my bookshelf that if you really wanted them, I wouldn’t say no, because who needs three beautiful, new books on how to make panini anyway. Help save me from myself.
What a wonderful way to release the books she no longer needs, giving them away to her students and their families.

And she's not the only one getting rid of cookbooks. Here's what Laura wrote a couple days ago:
Okay ladies, let’s be honest here. How many cookbooks do we really need? Do they breed in the night or what? ... I use the internet for most of my recipes now so my cookbooks have been ignored for far too long. They just don’t deserve that abuse.
If you're considering getting rid of some cookbooks, here's some advice from Real Simple: Act like you're moving.
Say you had to uproot and relocate. What would you take with you? You don't actually have to pack anything up — just set aside the few things that you love and use and see what's left over. "Chances are, you use only 20 percent of your stuff regularly," says Sally Allen, owner of A Place for Everything, an organizing service in Golden, Colorado.

Try this with your cookbooks: Pull out the ones that are tenderly tattered due to years of use, then look at the ones still on the shelf. Ask yourself if you would pay someone to haul away those you've been keeping because they were gifts or because you felt ambitious when you bought them (From now on, Thai food every Tuesday night!) If not, sell them to a used-book store or donate them.
Related Posts:
My Own Decluttering, Part 2
10 Ways to Find New Homes for Your Books

[photo by Michael Newman, licensed through Creative Commons]


Allison Spitzer Carter said...

I found the same to be true for me a few years ago. I decided all the recipes I need are on the internet as well. So I clipped out or copied the 2-5 recipes in each book that I used. Then I put them in my favorites binder (in page protector sheets) and cut my cookbook collection in half.. easily.
I do think you can save some old favorites as decor up above cabinets.
But why keep what you're not using, right?

Jeri Dansky said...


Cynthia Friedlob said...

Anyone in the L.A. area might want to check out Janet Jarvits' cookbook shop . She has 30,000 rare and used cookbooks. I sold a bunch of mine to her years ago.

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks, Cynthia - what a great resource!