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Culling your Cookbooks


nakji
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With all the new cookbooks I'm sure we've received for the holidays, has anyone started throwing out/giving away/selling their books to make room?

What criteria do you have for keeping or throwing away your books? I'm already beginning to look in askance at some books that were gifts, and I only have one small shelf of cookbooks.

It seems obvious that you'd get rid of books you never use, but has anyone ever thrown away a copy because they've used it too much?

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Last year in Moab, I managed to find a new revised Joy of Cooking in great shape. Brought it home...and it sits right beside my old broken spine, ripped, stained, dog-eared wedding gift copy from 50 years ago. Could no more throw out that dear old friend.... :wub:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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This topic strikes a chord; I have just given away a cookbook that I purchased about 18 months ago; I must have had my eyes closed at the time! :laugh:, since I doubt that I'd ever cok from it. Gave it to a manager here at work, who went nuts over it, and loaned her another one as well. I'm a firm believer that it's a sin to throw away a book; somewhere out there thre is SOMEONE who needs, wants, can't afford, or will be brought joy by any book you have to get rid of due to space, moving, or what ever reason occurs. Donate, donate, donate! :rolleyes: Libraries, Salvation Army, Goodwill, your church of choice, ANYWHERE but the rubbish, please! :wink:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I just had to weed a few books out to make room for some new stuff. I eliminated a few that I just wasn't getting any use out of. But it gets harder, because I'd done some major weeding a couple of years ago, so most of the really obvious culls had already been made. Fortunately, a friend of mine is the manager of the used book department at a local bookstore, so getting rid of books is fairly easy.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Donate, donate, donate! :rolleyes: Libraries, Salvation Army, Goodwill, your church of choice, ANYWHERE but the rubbish, please! :wink:

Depends upon one's definition of 'rubbish'. :biggrin: Our local county dump...ooops, transfer station...has a large drive shed sort of building where people can simply leave stuff they don't want under the watchful eye of a transfer station employee. One year I picked up almost an entire set of the Time/Life The Good Cook Techniques and Recipes. The best goodies come right after garage sales and also when a couple is getting divorced. :raz:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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We did a major house remodel this year. It required us to pack up most of the rooms so that the contractor could do the work. I had quite a cookbook collection. As I packed up my all my books, I went through each one to determine if I wanted to keep it or not. The only cookbooks that were safe was my extensive collection of Mexican cookbooks (in English & Spanish). I donated well over 100 cookbooks to the Goodwill, along with probably another 100 books in assorted genres.

The criteria I used to determine if I would keep a cookbook were simple

1. Was I currently using the cookbook to cook from

2. Did the recipes in the cookbooks reflect what I was eating, wanted to eat, or my style of cooking

3. Was the cookbook a specialty cookbook with useful information (I kept most of the pastry books)

4. Did the cookbook have sentimental value to me (i.e received as a gift, autographed, etc)

5. Could I find the same information/recipes on-line

It's been 6-months now since I went through and slashed my cookbook collection at least in half. My collection is now 70% Mexican cookbooks (of all kinds)with the remainder filling in the gaps for general cooking, baking, and a few other specialty needs. I haven't needed or missed any of the books that went to the Goodwill. I had a lot of books I hadn't used, or even looked at in years. Going through them and getting rid of the deadwood was a great exercise and actually freed me up to use the remaining books more frequently because it was easier to see what I actually had :biggrin:

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Libraries, Salvation Army, Goodwill, your church of choice, ANYWHERE but the rubbish, please! :wink:

Unless it's Sandra Lee. Then it should go in the rubbish.

Though in general, it's true: a book you didn't find useful might be just the thing someone else is looking for.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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This is a timely discussion for me. Culling my bookshelves, especially my cookbook shelves, is on my agenda for this holiday break. Haven't quite gotten around to it yet, but I've still got a few days to go.

I expect my criteria will come down to the same as kalypso's, although I will probably hang on to my Donna Hay cookbooks, even though I've never cooked from any of them, probably never will, and they really don't reflect my cooking style. But they're so pretty!

I think I'll make a list and give first dibs to my coworkers and friends. Anything that's left over will be donated to charity. Or should we start an eGullet cookbook exchange program?

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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This is a timely discussion for me. Culling my bookshelves, especially my cookbook shelves, is on my agenda for this holiday break. Haven't quite gotten around to it yet, but I've still got a few days to go.

I expect my criteria will come down to the same as kalypso's, although I will probably hang on to my Donna Hay cookbooks, even though I've never cooked from any of them, probably never will, and they really don't reflect my cooking style. But they're so pretty!

I think I'll make a list and give first dibs to my coworkers and friends. Anything that's left over will be donated to charity. Or should we start an eGullet cookbook exchange program?

We already have one!

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I cull by whether I think I will use the book in the future: I keep some for reference, some for recipes I already love, some for recipes that look like I will love them, or recipes that will inspire me to cook, even if not a recipe from that book.

I've quite likely culled at least as many as I now keep (about 120 or 130), over the years, and probably about half of those were books that I really did like and use at one time. I culled them for having recipes that were not right for me (I found the lack of onions and garlic kept me from appreciating Lord Krishna's Cuisine as much as those who gave it major awards); for being replaced by a different book that is more in tune with my current cooking/eating habits (Marcella Hazan made way for Giuliano Bugialli); or because what I learned from it has been so ingrained in my present cooking that it seems superfluous (after adapting the food processor kneading technique from the Best Bread Ever to my favorite recipes, I didn't keep the book, because the recipes otherwise were not particularly unique); or for having too much space devoted to stuff I will never make (meat-heavy books from various cuisines with very short chapters on vegetables or desserts).

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I'm still working on building my cookbook collection before I start to cull any of them, but I do have a few obvious duds (for me anyway). One, that I just mailed out as an exchange through Swaptree.com, was Nigella's "Domestic Goddess" cookbook. I love her show, the pictures were beautiful and things looked tasty, but every time I went looking for recipes to bake, none of her items spoke to me. So, off it went, to a new home, and I am recieving a hardcover novel that I know I will read in the near future.

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