How Many Cookbooks is Too Many?

The Fall 2009 Kitchen Cure

I'm a busy working college student so this is what happens. I have made the best of my "kitchenette" but it is definitely in need the cure. (aubreylane in Santa Cruz, CA)

One thing that keeps popping up in the Kitchen Cure submissions is concerns over cookbook storage and the question of how many is too many. First, let's get a sense of how many cookbooks you have lurking on your shelves.


Read on for my thoughts on cookbook collecting, more Cure-taker images of cookbook collections, and a chance to tell us how you feel about cookbook clutter.

I'm answering this survey right now and you can guess my answer, but in my own defense I think it's important to talk about how you use your cookbooks when thinking about whether or not you have too many.

My situation is unusual in that I receive between on average five cookbooks each week in the mail for review. Many of them are not suited for the site, and immediately go in the giveaway pile. (Apartment Therapy donates multiple boxes of books every few months to Housing Works, a wonderful organization in our neighborhood that provides social services and housing to people living with HIV/AIDS. They also operate one of my favorite bookstores in NYC.)

Still, that leaves me with a lot of cookbooks. Titles that I am reviewing, I keep at home to cook from until the review is done. Sometimes they're by the bed, sometimes on the butcher block. Some books, like Shirley Corrhier's Cookwise, are a constant source of information and will never leave my brood. The books that inspire my entertaining and recipe development work are kept at home too. But I am frequently culling through the bunch when I notice there's a book I just am not as drawn to as I used to be. I'll give it away or donate it. All in all, there are never more than about 25 cookbooks in our apartment. Not bad.

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Where do I stash them? My storage solution is a shelf in our living room. That's right: no cookbooks in the kitchen. There simply isn't room.

Some people have one cookbook and it's their bible. One reader sent a photo of her counter with Mastering the Art of French Cooking standing proud, and alone. Others have a manageable handful of titles they refer to often and keep within reach of the stove. And then there are the people who hoard cookbooks, each a weighty reminder of how hard it is for them to let go of things. Maybe, just maybe, there are a few of you with big collections that you actually use. I support you, but I hope you have a great storage solution.

I'm getting glimpses into so many readers' kitchens with the current Cure I'm leading. (We have over 2,300 of you signed up for the Kitchen Cure and it's not too late for you to join!) Here are a few shots of cookbooks in Cure-takers' kitchens.

Tell us all about your cookbooks. Are you paring down for the Cure? Do they collect dust or are they well-used? Are you proudly displaying dozens of titles or do you just rely on a few stand-bys? Do you have a great solution for storing your collection?

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