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How do you organize your cookbooks?

I seem to have been on a bit of a cookbook-buying binge since prior to the holidays in December and I'm getting tired of organizing and, re-organizing my bookshelves.

I'd be interested to hear how others have organized their bookshelves. Is there a "best way"?

Currently this is (more or less) how my shelves are organized:

Seasonal Books
Multi-purpose & Reference Books
Single Topic Books (Soups/Stews, Beans, Meat, Mushrooms etc )
International (sorted by country and/or region)
Chef and Restaurant books
Misc books organized by Author name
Big Books (that don't fit on shelves where they should be placed)

I also keep a small shelf in the kitchen w books I use the most at any given time.

I often wonder if there's a better way.

What works for you?

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  1. I'm slightly ashamed to admit that my cookery books are arranged by colour! Not very scientific, or indeed useful, but cookery books are the only books that cover the whole spectrum of colours. My design and architecture books run from white with black print to black with white print, with a spattering of red in the middle. The cookery books look so nice and rainbowy! Plus I'm quite strict about culling one every time i get a new one, so they still fit on one (long!) shelf.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gembellina

      Mine are by color too! They're in a large bookcase in my living room, right next to the kitchen doorway. If I didn't order the books by color, it would be so busy it would be unpleasant. I also tend to remember cookbooks by color, so it usually takes me little time to find the one I want. Previously, I used to group them by country cuisine.

      1. re: gembellina

        I do this too. They look great! And I can't find what I'm looking for.

      2. I'm with you on the logic you're using. Sorting by region/cuisine and keeping a couple close at hand in the kitchen. We have floor-to-ceiling built in bookshelves in our finished basement and that's where the bulk of my books live.

        One resource I can personally recommend is Eat Your Books - http://www.eatyourbooks.com/

        This website service is fabulous. You key in your books (after registering and paying the fee) and the site "knows" what's on your shelf. You can then search your OWN books for recipes...type in "bechamel" and the site will tell you which of your books has that recipe.

        I am using my OWN books (rather than just Googling a recipe) vastly more since signing up for the service.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Monch

          I agree that EYB is a terrific help in optimizing use of cookbooks and I think that's why I'm really feeling the need to get my real bookshelves in order. Part of the problem is that EYB has made me feel less guilty for buying new books since I know I will use them. So then I get my 3 new Chinese cookbooks only to find that there's no more room in the Asian section of my bookshelf!

        2. I arrange mine by size so that they form a gentle curve (and each shelf has a general culinary theme). I keep the recipes contained therein organized with eatyourbooks.com.

          1. I'm lucky enough to have a floor to ceiling bookcase in the kitchen next to the doorway that leads to our library/den, eight shelves about 18" wide. The books are placed according to cuisine, country, author, or appliance/reference. I've had to move my Italian and Mediterranean books into the library where the American focused books reside. Some shelves in both the kitchen and library are able to accommodate tall books.

            Because I hate disorganization but fully understand the concept of color in design I have managed to place compatible colors together within a section. However for me, like with like helps keep things readily at hand. I can't say enough good things about Eat Your Books. What a great asset that site has been.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              Slightly off-topic, does the EYB inventory go back, say, 20 years? Like Frugal Gourmet, Greens?

              1. re: c oliver

                Yes, CO. I have entered most of my 1975 cookbooks. They may not all be indexed but the option to Request Index is there. They've even managed to index the American edition of Larousse Gastronomique...

                1. re: Gio

                  Thanks, Joe. I just unpacked a bunch that I haven't used in a few years.

                  1. re: Gio

                    Oh my goodness, Gio. I was multitasking (not my strong suit) and read your post to read that you'd entered most of your one-thousand-nine-hundred and seventy-five books into EYB. I began to get heart palpitations until I fairly quickly realized my error.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Now that's a good laugh, Joan. Nope. Not even close to that amount. I think at this point I have about 118 books listed so far. I have a few more to go, but all my older books are not in EYB's inventory.

                  2. re: c oliver

                    You don't have to pay to see what they have. Not every book I own is indexed but enough are especially the more popular the book is. It is not based on how new the book is at all.

                  3. re: Gio

                    Second on EYB. I really love being able to say, hmm, I have a pound of ground lamb in the freezer, what shall I do with it? With EYB, I have dozens of ideas from my library, without having to pull them all down from the shelf to start.

                    1. re: Splendid Spatula

                      Or the "which damn book is that recipe in???" syndrome.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Hah... that's My syndrome. These days organization of anything in a kitchen makes cooking so much more enjoyable.

                        1. re: Gio

                          Much of my house AND my life is DISorganized but my kitchen's in pretty good shape. Now I'll sign up for EYB and that's going to make a big difference. 'Course it won't take care of those church cookbooks from the south but ya can't have everything.

                          1. re: Gio

                            My syndrome too. It is so nice to be able to put in the key ingredients and have EYB identify which book your recipe came from. I use it for this feature more than for anything else. Second best use for me is creating a shopping list when i am already at the grocery store and need to get the ingredients for tonight's recipe.

                            1. re: dkennedy

                              I'm so glad I'm I'm in good company :)

                    2. I think "organise" would be an extreme misrepresentation of the situation Chez Harters.

                      1 Reply
                      1. People have been known to enter my kitchen and shudder. It's like a messy desk - if I cleaned it, I'd never be able to find anything!

                        Like Gio, I have great floor to ceiling bookshelves in the kitchen, custom built by my hubby to help tame the clutter. I am a cookbook junkie. We inherited hundreds from each of our mothers and grandmothers. While the other relatives were fighting over the jewelry, we absconded with the cookbooks and serving platters. In addition, I have somewhat of an addiction. I can't leave a bookstore, garage sale or antique shop without at least one new (or old) book.

                        I have several "go to" cookbooks, which have their own little section. These are in a stack that I can just grab when I need a recipe. The rest are just fun to have around, as I've been known to curl up with a cookbook and read it like a novel.

                        1. Mine are loosely organized along the OP's method. I use the "Time Life" system.
                          The ones I use a lot are in a bookcase next to the kitchen. That is my "bull pen" area. I rotate some in and out from the "remote storage locations". All baking /candy/chocolate books are in another small bookcase in a hall next to the kitchen. The Time Life Good cook volumes that involve baking/sweets are the "dividers" and books are filed accordingly. I also have other books filed behind the other specific subjects in the series Upstairs I have Time Life "Food from many Lands" and this provides the dividers for all foods form different countries books.
                          I have other shelves for specific chefs and restaurants, all manor of southern cooking, antique and historic cookbooks, party cookbooks, home made cookbooks and misl recipe collections-Jr League, etc. Then there are the ones I am "reading". These may be on the back porch or next to the bed. I also have a stack currently that are going to a new home.

                          1. I tried EYB but they do not have most of the cookbooks that I own. I was wondering if anyone know of an internet site or IPOD application where I can track the recipes from my cookbooks that I want to reference.

                            1. If you looked at my cookbooks, you'd think they weren't organized at all - but indeed, they're organized by frequency of use . . . so the "system" only makes sense to me, but right now I'm the only one who uses them - so what the hell? This is funny b/c the rest of the house is super-organized. When my MIL stayed here for the weekend w/our daughter while we were away, she commented on how organized my pantries are, for example. Need a credit card bill from last year? All organized in reverse-chron. order in the files.

                              I'll also put in a vote for EYB - I'm now using books I'd long ago forgotten about! Such a genius idea.


                              1. I don't organize mine at all. They're just where they fit on a bookshelf.

                                The recipes I take from them are in a database so that the recipes are infinitely organized by tags and links. And they are all referenced by the cookbook or other resource they came from so all I have to do is rummage through bookshelves in a couple parts of the house =o to get back to the original source for new recipes or information. ;>

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rainey

                                  My recipes are organized by size. Like many of you, I am a neat freak and though I need to have my cookbooks close at hand, I also need them to look pretty in the process. I have a beautiful antique sideboard that takes up the length of my great room, and the top 1/2 is all shelves. I am able to fit most of my cookbooks on these shelves, with two additional piles stacked neatly on either side of the fireplace. My great room is part of my kitchen, so they are always close at hand.

                                  At some point I tried to reorganize them into ethnic groupings, thinking this would help me find things easier, but it turned out to make me more disorganized, and it looked horrible so every time I looked at it it bugged the crap out of me. Once I switched them back I realized that I identify my books by size, so if I am looking for The Flavor of France, I naturally go to the short book section, and if I am looking for Simply French, my eyes naturally seek out the medium sized books, and so on. The only books I can't identify on site are those few that I never bonded with, so they made it to their space on the shelves without my learning what they look like.

                                2. Joining EYB was the impetus for organizing my cookbooks. I used the same principle as with utensils and pans: The kitchen ones are all stored together on a 3-shelf baker's rack. The most often used are closest to hand (top shelf, at reach-out-and-grab height); the least often furthest away (bottom shelf, near floor). In addition to those three short shelves in the kitchen, there's a Siberia for books I'm keeping but rarely use on built-in shelves in the sitting room. Most of those books are my mother's; the EYB indexing has greatly increased the chances of my ever cooking from some of them (George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary, e.g.).

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ellabee

                                    An update to my system: I've left room on the top (most accessible, most used) shelf for one or two cookbooks, used for those I've checked out of the library or borrowed from friends. Having them right at hand makes it more likely that they'll be used and perused by the time I need to return them.

                                    1. re: ellabee

                                      Kitchen reorganizing led to my three short shelves becoming two slightly longer shelves.

                                      The easily accessible shelf at table height holds the 'bibles' [Joy, Veg Cooking for Everyone, Art of Simple Cooking, Veg Epicure, Silver Palate, Jas. Peterson] and the books I'm cooking from most often, including library check-outs.

                                      The lower shelf is organized into cuisines [Moroccan/E Med, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Chinese], with the remainder of the shelf given to books that specialize in one way or another. And a few that are general cookbooks but not often used -- candidates for moving out of the kitchen.

                                  2. I'm curious how many cookbooks people are talking about. Keeping track of a hundred is vastly different from keeping track of a thousand.

                                    I have around 500 food- and cookbooks. They are mostly organized by cuisine (French, Indian, Chinese, etc.) or topic (science of cooking, botany of edible plants, food memoirs and essays, etc.). Within these I choose whatever groupings seem natural: I have every major edition of The Joy of Cooking, and I have those arranged chronologically; I have books on Indian cooking that cover the entire country, and I have these together; I also have regional Indian cookbooks that I arrange geographically. And then I have my dustbins of history section: a collection of cookbooks
                                    arranged in dustpans, each representing a 500-year period or so -- from Roman cookery through medieval English cookery to early 20th century American cookery.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                      I probably have at least 500 but am afraid to count. I do thin periodically.

                                      1. re: wekick

                                        I like your Time-Life organization method (described by you upthread) but in order to implement it one needs the Time-Life books. It's a good visual way of remembering where things are.

                                        Another thing I try and do once a year or so is take all the books out, dust them and put them back neatly. The arrangement gets ragged after a while, and the tidying up also serves to remind me of what I have.

                                        The problem with thinning, I've found, is that the book you discard is the very book you find you want a month later.

                                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                                          True enough! Most discards have been collections of recipes. I go through and scan what I want. Other discards were a book that the initial premise of the book required a starter for bread that I knew I could not maintain and a few that were so involved, I just don't have time for. I need to cull a few more.

                                          I acquired the Time-Life books by the set at thrift stores. They are tall and make good dividers.

                                          1. re: FoodDabbler

                                            FoodDabbler, you are absolutely right about discarding the book & then having withdrawal symptoms a little while later. I just gave some of my "no need" books to friends & starting missing them the very next day...what is it with that feeling??????

                                        2. re: FoodDabbler

                                          :: my dustbins of history section ::


                                        3. I don't really organize them. I only have approx 15 cook book and they are on a shelf.

                                          1. I don't organize the actual cookbooks any longer but I do have certain pages flagged in the books which helps me target recipes quickly. Mostly I work from the dedicated recipe file pc in the kitchen desk now. Pull it up, follow along, done.

                                            1. Wow. I thought I had a lot of cookbooks ... my friends aren't into cooking like I am, so by comparison to them, I do. But I don't have nearly enough to need to organize to that degree! We're moving soon - hopefully - so I have two boxes packed already with my least-used cookbooks, but I just organize by the ones I use most, then by author or type. My kids' cookbooks are in a separate section of the shelves. I told my husband I really want room for a serious cookbook collection in our next house!

                                              I'm envoius (in the best possible way!) that you need a better organization system that I do!

                                              1. As I have well over 500 they must be organized. I could tell you where nearly all of them are precisely on the shelves. I organize by type (akin to the OP). My biggest section is the Reference and Molelcular Gastronomy section followed by food/cookery history and culture; chef books such as Blumenthal, Achatz and Keller; single ingredient such as butter; ethnic (I have a sizeable collection on Middle Eastern cooking); food writing and so on. Many are gigantic so they naturally are on bottom shelves. Some sit in piles as I am going through them but I could tell you where they all are easily. Works for me!

                                                I do not consider my set of Jean Pare "Company's Coming" books I acquired when I was young as cookbooks. They are out of sight and will be donated at some point.

                                                1. Organize? I'm supposed to be organizing them? :-( I suppose I have the ones I use the most on the same shelf...
                                                  Organization is not my strong suit.

                                                  1. You speak of organizing your cookbooks??? Gosh, I just wander all over the house looking around like I have good sense until I find a cookbook that might tell me what I need to fix for dinner. Yes, I know I need help...that's why I read all these posts....hoping some day the cookbook fairy will come over here & help me out. I read elsewhere some folks organize their cookbooks by color....now that really got my attention. I can do that. My problem is, I have a several places for books, but no large bookshelves that would hold my cookbook collection...hence there are books in every nook & cranny. Yikes, the more I think about it, the worse it gets...guess I will just keep reading & wait for a miracle.

                                                    1. I can't believe what a change in the use of my 150+ cookbooks since joining EYB! It's the ultimate solution for finding recipes from books one hasn't looked at in months, years or even ever! Since using it I'm not relying on Cook's Illustrated's website as much nor random Googling to find subpar recipes. It's an incredible tool. As far as organizing my books, we just added a library into our home that is not far from the kitchen and they occupy two bookcases floor to ceiling and are arranged alphabetically by chef/author/country in that order. Within that they are alpha by title.

                                                      1. By subject, author or series.


                                                        The Good Cook series, Southern Living Heritage, Foods of the World
                                                        Mexican, Indian, Asian, Barbecue, Southern ect
                                                        Ina Garten, Julia Child ect
                                                        single ingredient subjects, Lemons, Berries

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                          I see I posted in this thread but we've moved since and of course I've added to the collection and culled others. My main problem is size differences. Ideally I'd love to have all my baking books together, same thing with all my Southern cookbooks. The problem is that some are very tall and some are short and I only have so many shelves that fit tall books. So subject matter gets separated or I feel like I'm wasting space with short books on a tall shelf.


                                                          I need a better system.

                                                        2. Mine are organized alphabetically by author's last name. I too use EYB. Once I found a recipe that I wanted to use through a search on EYB, then I couldn't find the cookbook. So, I reorganized everything. It was a lot of work, but now it's so much easier.

                                                          1. Have just been politely asked by the Mod Squad to bring a side conversation about cookbook reorganization woes from the April COTM nominations to this thread. Really makes more sense, though, doesn't it?

                                                            It more or less started with this post by me...
                                                            "My English shelf is so full that "Jerusalem" is sitting on top of books on the Chinese shelf. I fear the books by English authors will have to move to the section in the den/library which is fast becoming the European section. That's next to the American section. Meanwhile the the Italians have their own separate bookcase which used to hold gardening books. It's not funny... (but I Am laughing.)" Then sped out of control with replies.


                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              Hi Gio,

                                                              From the OP you'll get a sense of my set up. Where we differ is that I would shelve Jerusalem in my International section even though the authors are residing in England. Nigel Slater on the other hand would be shelved in my Cookbook's by author's last name section and Bill Granger (although an Aussie) would be in my cookbooks by by author's name section as well - except for his Sydney Food Book which would be in my International section.

                                                              I think of my International section as housing a selection of regional cuisine and I find that especially now, while an author may be from a certain country, their cuisine tends to be global as opposed to be regionally specific.

                                                              All that said, guess what...I too have books stacked atop others!! I did recently box up some books to donate to a fundraiser and I hope to do more this weekend. That should free up some much needed space!

                                                            2. Wow - were we separated at birth? Because I could have written your post word for word.

                                                              That's exactly how I have all my cookbooks organized as well.

                                                              1. <What works for you?>


                                                                Really. I donated all my cookbooks to a local charity several years ago, even the ones I used frequently. Life is simpler for me without those books taking up valuable real estate in my home.

                                                                14 Replies
                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                  Ahhh - but if you're a collector like me, that doesn't work. I'd never part with my books & just depend on the internet. Too cold & impersonal. And my vintage volumes? Forget about it.

                                                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                    I was never a collector, I just bought what looked interesting to me. I kept 2 volumes; Mom's old White House Cookbook, and the McCalls volume she gifted me on my wedding day. Those are sentimental, the rest were just another cooking tool.

                                                                    Mom was a collector, and in fact only really began to collect when she stopped cooking. She read them like novels, then put them on a shelf. Last year she sold her home and splits her time between my brother's home and mine. Fortunately, he had room for her shelves of books. She's quite attached to them.

                                                                  2. re: DuffyH

                                                                    I hope your computer doesn't die on a day you find it too expensive to replace.

                                                                    I have all my music on different external hard drives as well as my current hard drive, but I would never get rid of my CDs.

                                                                    Not having books would never work for me. I barely even use my Kindle. Amazon is not going to provide me with books if my Kindle dies. I've asked.

                                                                    And I don't consider myself a collector of books, just someone who reads them.

                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                      "I hope your computer doesn't die on a day you find it too expensive to replace."

                                                                      Really? I would never presume to think that people can't cook without a book or computer. I do it frequently. Don't you?

                                                                      I have over 100 books stored in Amazon's cloud. With several devices to access them, I no longer miss physical books, because I can re-read any book I want, wherever I am. To me, it's a decent trade-off to the sensation of turning pages and the smell of a new book. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. :)

                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                        "Different strokes for different folks, I guess."

                                                                        Definitely. But how sad for you. I can't imagine not having my physical books at my disposal to read & enjoy "in person". And my vintage volumes? They're priceless.

                                                                        Not even REMOTELY the same as looking at them on a computer screen. A computer screen will NEVER duplicate the lovely photographs. And it's particularly lovely to enjoy them during power outages - lol!!!!

                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                          Where did I say you wouldn't be able to cook without your computer?

                                                                          Oh, and you left out the "cloud" in your original post.

                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                            <Where did I say you wouldn't be able to cook without your computer?>

                                                                            You didn't, but since I'd only mentioned cookbooks and google at that point, it seemed logical you were referencing my lack of cookbooks and not being able to access recipes if my Mac died. Can you tell me what you meant?

                                                                            <Oh, and you left out the "cloud" in your original post.>

                                                                            Yes, because the discussion in my OP was solely about cookbooks, and I have none stored in the cloud.

                                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                                              To be honest, Duffy, what I was mostly thinking about was my music collection. I live in fear that my computer will die and take my 43 days worth of songs on iTunes with it. I cringe, I suppose, whenever anyone tells me they got rid of their entire library of _____ because they're going to depend on their computer.

                                                                              So I probably overreacted. I'm sure the system with which you've replaced your cookbooks is a lovely one. I guess you're a better cook than I am, not needing any cookbooks or recipes.

                                                                              I've had four Macs, btw. They all died at some point, taking work with them. Thankfully, I stored things on discs, but I don't trust computers as storage devices at all.

                                                                              As for your cloud, if it doesn't have anything to do with cookbooks, why did you bring it up?

                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                < I cringe, I suppose, whenever anyone tells me they got rid of their entire library of _____ because they're going to depend on their computer.>

                                                                                Understandable, Jay. I suppose we don't give it much thought, because we've got my Mac and my husband's pc, both with our full iTunes library (nowhere near your collection, though, wow!). I did have a laptop go full brick on me once, and we've had a few drives that died, but we've never lost both of our computers at the same time.

                                                                                I mentioned the cloud because you wrote "Not having books would never work for me. I barely even use my Kindle." I thought you were writing about books in general, as opposed to only cookbooks. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

                                                                                As for being a better cook than you, not needing any cookbooks or recipes, that's a chuckle. I do rely on recipes frequently. I subscribe to online food mags and download recipes I like, I follow interesting links, read a lot of food blogs, etc... I do most of the things that other home cooks do, but I do them online. I just don't buy or own any cookbooks, except for the few I kept for sentiment's sake. I've saved about 1200 recipes to an app suite that automagically syncs on my Mac, iPad and phone. Of course, quite a few of them are variations on a theme, waiting for me to run a series of cook-offs to determine which will be the keeper. I think I'm a pretty typical home cook, albeit one with a different recipe organization system. :)

                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                  Duffy, would you please explain more about storing cookbooks in your Amazon cloud. Are you saying you can use these on ANY device (e.,g PC, ipad, nook), not just a kindle?

                                                                                  One of the things I don't like about the idea of e-books is that I was under the impression that you had to commit to a platform (is that the right word?) or particular device (ie., kindle or ipad or...) to buy the book in that form.

                                                                                  Do I misunderstand?


                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                                    I can read Amazon-purchased (Kindle) books on any device that has a Kindle app. These include Macs, PCs, iPhones, 'Droids, iPads and likely some others. It takes a Kindle app, which is free from various app stores. The Kindle app will run on the Nook Tablet and the Nook Color (if it's rooted as 'Droid, which may void warranty).

                                                                                    There are 2 formats for eBooks - epub and .mobi. Nook uses epub, Kindle uses .mobi. It's possible that the book you want will be available in one format but not the other. This isn't a problem, because B&N has a Nook app the functions just like the Kindle app.

                                                                                    Since I've stopped buying cookbooks altogether, I can't say for certain how most will render, but I just downloaded a sample of Betty Crocker's newest, and while the sample only includes Chapter One, Getting Started (no recipes), it does have beautiful photos, hyperlinks to sections and subsections within the chapter, as well as a handy guide to navigating the Kindle edition.

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                                      I just realized I may not have been clear about Nooks. The Nook Tablet has access to the Android Marketplace ('Droid's app store) and can read Kindle books, no problem. The Nook Color isn't meant to have AM access, so it needs to be re-rooted as an Android device.

                                                                                      I downloaded a sample of Julia's Mastering the Art...Volume Two, and got the Introduction, the Forward, the Table of Contents AND the first chapter. It, too, has hyperlinks.

                                                                                      Did this help?

                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                        Yes, I think it has helped. I was kind of under the impression that the books sold on Amazon required owning a Kindle, and I'm just not sure I'm interested in owning a Kindle. So whenever I think about "should I buy digital books" it feels like it's two decisions. 1) should I buy a digital book and 2) should I buy a kindle.That's kind of a big investment.

                                                                                        But if I can buy a digital book and read it on a device I already own and use, such But we own macbooks and ipads for other uses, so if I can buy a digital book off of Amazon and use it on something I already own, it seems like a smaller decision.

                                                                                        I checked a digital cookbook out of my library to read on my macbook and it was pretty slick. I did feel very constrained about where I could read this book because it was downloaded to my macbook (which I don't drag around with me, even though it's pretty small and light for a laptop), but if the book resides on a cloud, I could theoretically read it from anywhere I had internet connectivity. But, then, I guess that could create another problem in that now I have to have internet connectivity in order to access the book. I couldn't take the book with me to a cabin in the woods to read it if the book resides in my cloud, right?


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          <I was kind of under the impression that the books sold on Amazon required owning a Kindle>

                                                                                          Amazon has a free 'lending library' of sorts that requires a Kindle, but purchased books do not.

                                                                                          <I couldn't take the book with me to a cabin in the woods to read it if the book resides in my cloud, right?>

                                                                                          Yes, you can. In addition to storing ALL of your books in the cloud, when you choose to read a book, you download it onto your iPad or Mac. You can have as many of your books residing there as you choose. When you want to move it back to the cloud, you swipe to archive it. Before I leave on vacations, I download a number of books onto my iPad just in case I don't have wifi access.

                                                                                          <I did feel very constrained about where I could read this book because it was downloaded to my macbook (which I don't drag around with me, even though it's pretty small and light for a laptop>

                                                                                          I hear you. I use a MB Air but prefer to take my iPad when traveling. My husband bought me an under-counter mount for my iPad. It's mounted next to my range. When using a recipe, I clip my iPad into it and am able to avoid spills and splatters and have the convenience of having the recipe at eye level. I use this one, but there are many others, a lot of them less expensive:


                                                                                          When I combine that with the Paprika recipe app, I'm a happy camper. In Paprika, tapping on the step I'm on in the recipe hi-lights it, and tapping an ingredient draws a line through it. Makes it very easy to not lose track of things when interruptions occur. :)

                                                                      2. By size. I put them on a shelf which ends at a wall on the right, arranging them for a good visual effect. The largest volumes (like On Food and Cooking) I lay flat in a pile on the left as a bookend for the upright volumes.

                                                                        1. I have a floor to ceiling bookcase. My books are organized by height. I tend to remember the size of the book going to that section when I want a book.

                                                                          1. I have mine on a shelf and in a free standing pantry. The ones that I am more likely to use are on the shelf.

                                                                            I organize by cuisine, author, brand and size for the most part. Most of the healthy cookbooks are together as well. All purpose tend to go in one area, regional and ethnicity based books etc.

                                                                            1. I have a bookshelf divided into 4 quadrants. Bottom left has my absolute best/heavy reference tomes - how to cook everything, new york times cookbook, chez panisse, molly stevens, julia child, etc. Bottom right has my favorite books on topical matters - the ice cream books, the seafood books, etc - plus the binders of recipes friends and family have given me. Top right has my less commonly used single topic books - books that i love one recipe out of but haven't really made much more from. top right holds books I don't really use.

                                                                              Of course, Modernist Cuisine has a shelf all it's own. :)

                                                                              1. I organize them by "Ones That I Need" and "Ones That I Don't Need"

                                                                                Obviously the ones I don't need are no longer on my bookshelf.