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Cookbook purge!

I'm considering doing a very deep cookbook purge. I simply no longer have the space I used to have for cookbooks or the time to cook the way I used to. I've done purges in the past, but my COTM's have always been untouchable. I think now might be the time for me to pare down that collection.

For reference, here's a link to the COTM archive. http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

1. Which books will I regret getting rid of and/or which are your most indispensible/favorite COTM cookbooks? I think these are the same question. Maybe not.

2. Which books are purge-worthy simply because so many of the recipes are available online? For instance, do I really need Plenty or Melissa Clark or Ina Garten or Homesick Texan? Are any of these books more than the sum of their recipes?

Thank you for your thoughts. And happy (almost) 2013!

~TDQ

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  1. I'm running out of room too but there's no way I'm getting rid of any cook book again. I did that a few years ago and have always regretted the decision. I got rid of an Essciofia. Yeah the large one. A month later I was sick about it. I bought another good used one on-line.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Puffin3

      I don't own that book, so there's no opportunity to purge it. I sincerely hope I don't end up with a list of books I have to acquire from this thread! HA!

      ~TDQ

      1. re: Puffin3

        I, too, am out of room, but everytime I purge there are regrets. I have decided, instead, to put some of the books I don't use much "away" and see if they are missed. I figure I will have to have them "away" for at least a year. I know this sounds crazy but I have had to repurchase more than one or two books.

        1. re: ptrefler

          I actually think what we need to do is be more careful when we are moving. We should scope out our new neighbourhoods for cookbook lovers and then create a shared library!! ; - )

          I often read a thread where someone is looking for a recipe in a book or coveting another book and feel it's a shame because that book is just sitting, idling on my shelf. I might not want to part w it forever but I'd be happy to loan it out.

          Unfortunately few of my friends/neighbours like cooking, never mind share my cookbook (addiction) passion.

        2. re: Puffin3

          Essciofia? Do you mean Escoffier or is this another book of which I am unaware?

        3. I keep 3-4 cookbooks on my kitchen counter and the rest on a bookshelf in my basement. Every once in a while, I'll choose a cookbook to read, like you'd read a novel. It's just not the same to me as googling for a recipe.

          The books on my count rotate. Right now I've got Jerusalem, smitten kitchen, aromas of Aleppo, and how to cook everything vegetarian.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cheesecake17

            You don't worry about storing books in your basement? How do you keep them from getting musty?

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              We've got a finished basement. My husbands office is down there and I've rescued a shelf on his bookcase for cookbooks.

              Heck, before we moved I stored cookbooks with my shoes. I'd never get rid of any!

          2. I'd be leery of getting rid of any book (like Plenty) where the recipes are available online but could disappear behind a paywall. Seems like more and more newspapers are adopting the NYT model of making less content available to non-subscribers.

            I have purged in the past & always regretted it. I still miss Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" which I got rid of about ten years ago. If I ever see it in a thrift shop or used bookstore I will pick up another copy.

            10 Replies
            1. re: geekmom

              I just ordered Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone for 5.00 on AbeBoooks. They seem to have it every few weeks fairly cheaply. I wanted to give it for a gift so I am hoping it is in good shape. I love that book.

              1. re: mscoffee1

                like the idea of that one.
                I have a Vegetarian cookbook that my sister got me a hundred years ago. She had it and I used to babysit my niece a ton and would read it
                page after page and take notes. Finally she bought it as a gift for me so I'd leave hers alone.

                1. re: iL Divo

                  In deference to this thread, look at/try some of the online recipes to see if you like them. It is a big book.

                  1. re: mscoffee1

                    Good idea! Also, VCFE was a COTM awhile back. You can get a sense of the book by reading through those threads: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/534325

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: mscoffee1

                      oh mscoffee, I'll not be buying it. was thinking that going online to find any cookbook and getting it at a bargain was a good idea. I do not need another Vegetarian cookbook, but appreciate suggestion.

                2. re: geekmom

                  Deborah Madison's cookbook is well written. I'm having a lot of beginner's luck thanks to her (e.g. homemade pasta). I've been collecting cookbooks from yard sales and thrift stores for a long time now and just getting around to using them more seriously.

                  I'm trying to wrap my head around what might have been going through your mind to get rid of your cookbooks, particularly this one? Maybe you are a more advanced cook and outgrew some of them?

                  Like what many others have said here, I use my cookbooks mainly for inspiration and understanding the foundation of cooking. For an amateur like me, they are invaluable introductions to cooking. I feel very honored to be a student and beneficiary of their extensive research.

                  Many casual recipe sites that you see online are very cut and dry without much explanations because they are not from experts. I consider them hit or miss. Cookbooks can be more reliable in that sense, because most are written by seasoned professionals. Also your prediction of the free recipe sites becoming a thing of the past is as inevitable as the bygone days of the 5 cent soda pops and Napster file sharing (I actually used the original mp3.com site to sample so many great indie music, but now it got squashed by big corporations).

                  1. re: amateurcook2

                    "I'm trying to wrap my head around what might have been going through your mind to get rid of your cookbooks, particularly this one? Maybe you are a more advanced cook and outgrew some of them?"

                    Not at all - I'm like you, I am very much an amateur home cook who still has lots to learn & my cookbooks are a great source of learning and inspiration. At the time I got rid of that and other books I did a massive purge during an international move and inevitably got rid of some things that I later came to regret! I guess VCFE was a target because it's so big.

                    I totally agree about the free recipe sites online being hit-and-miss. Even when something is highly rated by other users that can be meaningless because their frame of reference could be completely different from mine. If Ottolenghi's archive at the Guardian goes behind a paywall I may have to find a way to pay for it because his column is a highlight of my weekend.

                    1. re: geekmom

                      This board is really unhealthy for cookbook aficionados like me reaching their saturation point. While I was looking up Ottolenghi after reading your post, I ran across this New York Times article which listed a sushi cookbook “Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know About Cooking” by Michael Booth. I ended up ordering a used copy of it from online because I haven't been able to run across a good sushi cookbook at yard sales, etc.
                      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/opi...

                      Also thanks to you, I ran across the chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall blogs on the Guardian who is more my low speed. If you are reading and preparing foods from Ottolenghi, you are at a much higher level than me and beyond Deborah Madison's book. In other words, you have graduated to a higher level and shouldn't look back.

                      Oh, and that NYT article had a link to some good indie music as well, my first love...food is second.

                      1. re: amateurcook2

                        Please start an indie music/cooking lovers website and let us know. I'll be there.

                3. What Geekmom said. I've regretted giving away Alice Water's first Chez Panise book from the following day on. OTOH, I have purged books from which I've never cooked and those that have no value in my estimation. Namely, books by those authors I consider to be making an impact on the culinary world. It really is subjective in the long run.

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    OK, this isn't really helping! HAHAHA! I mean, it IS helpful, of course, to have your honest feedback, but it's not the kind of feedback I wanted.

                    Should I re-acquire VCFE which I dumped in the last purge? Oh no! Suddenly gripped by anxiety.

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      LOL, I guess in hindsight, this may have been the wrong forum to get support for this (crazy!) notion. You need to head over to an organization site where anti-clutter types run the show.

                      I would never release a Deborah Madison book into the wild as I'm a huge fan. Sorry, that was not helpful at all.

                      1. re: tcamp

                        I was thinking the same thing: wrong audience for this question. But, truthfully, it is the right audience. I don't want to regret purging. But the problem is, sometimes I acquire cookbooks on impulse --maybe without really looking at them closely or sometimes simply because I can't get my hands on them any way other than buying them--- (Ie., my library doesn't have them, etc.) on the pretense that I can get rid of them if I don't like them. Surely I don't have to keep impulse buys??? Do you?

                        I have only regretted releasing VCFE once, when another 'hound recommended a recipe from that book. I had a momentary panic, then with the help of EYB was able to find the exact name of the recipe, after which I was able to find a copy of the recipe by Googling.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Oh gosh, just email me. I've got the book and can paraphrase for you. That is a darned thick book to keep around if you're not going to use it. Same with Bittman. I use both just often enough that I wouldn't get rid of them, but not everyone will. I'm going to *try* to be the voice of reason here and say if you have only made one or two recipes that you like, why not just keep those and get rid of the book. I'm in the same sort of bind (running out of room) and really don't know what to do. I try (and do not succeed) to stay off the "what new cookbook do you lust for" threads, and I've been pretty good at not buying new books. I kind of regret buying both USC books in November. I wasn't even around for a lot of that month, and doubt I'll use them much.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I didnt cook much on the USC month, but I was impressed by how tasty, thoughtful and well worked out the recipes -were.For example helpful tips if the recipe was prepared ahead - like a suggestion to store the solids and liquids for a soup separately, so the starch did not soak up all the liquid and get flabby while in storage. Dont own the books, but if I did they would definitely get some further attention in my kitchen, .

                        2. re: tcamp

                          Argh, now I'm really feeling the pangs of missing that Deborah Madison book. ;-) But I do agree, TDQ, that you should get rid of books you don't use and won't likely use again, especially ones you've never cooked from.

                        3. re: The Dairy Queen

                          OK.... I know I didn't really answer your original question but essentially only You know which books mean the most to You. That's the essence of what I was saying.

                          Happy Almost 2013 to you...

                          1. re: Gio

                            OK thank you. Maybe instead of doing a "deep" cookbook purge, I should box up these books and store them in my basement for a year or two and see how I feel about them.

                            One note, last time I did my cookbook purge, I found good homes for them with family and friends. There were a few I sold or swapped, but mostly I gave them to people I knew would take care of them. And if I asked to borrow the book back, would gladly hand it back over.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              That's what I do. In fact I have an easy depository at hand, namely my daughter's boy friend. He loves to cook and is a very good one. Plus, he Loves books too!

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I like this idea. I have been doing it with cookware. Once a year, everything is removed for a deep kitchen cleaning. Then I bring up what I only what I need. If stuff is still in the basement after two years, I figure I don't need it. And I _try_ to get rid of it. Cookbooks may be different----do use use them just for cooking, or as a category of literature?

                                1. re: mwhitmore

                                  It depends on the book, but a little of both. For reference, for actual cooking, and as "arm chair" travel.

                                  ~TDQ

                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                              If you haven't missed or regretted VCFE since you purged it, why would you reacquire it? Personally, I never got into that book, it just wasn't to my tastes. Even reading how other hounds love it, it still doesn't tempt me. Plus, I wasn't inspired during that COTM.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                Totally agree. I have that book and can't quite bring myself to get rid of it, but I cook from it very rarely and I don't think I'd miss it if it were gone. In some ways it would be a relief as it takes up a lot of shelf space!

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  Ditto. I've had it for years, and every now and then I take it down from the shelf determined to cook something from it, but I never have. Somehow it's still here though. After a big purge about 8 or 9 years ago where I regretted having given away a bunch of books, I plan on holding on to what I've got, but slowing down buying new ones.

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    That's pretty much my approach, almost no additional book unless it has been "road tested", usually by borrowing from the library. This simple "rule" has slowed the new book acquisition down to a manageable 3 or 4 a year.

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Then let me be the first to tell you I've purged our home of books, including a lot on nice looking, possibly useful cookbooks that sat unused almost entirely for many years. I can find almost anything I want online in multiple versions and I'm sure that will always be the case even if some sites go for pay.

                                  I almost never use my old, worn Joy of Cooking, but it's got sentimental value. I gave some to my ambitious cook of a daughter when she moved out, and keep several for inspiration.

                                  I hate clutter, dust catchers and I'd rather have art, family pics and sculpture on the shelves than books I don't use even for browsing, though the ones I do are prominent and close at hand.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    In the past 5 years, we've sold or donated over 3,000 books. I'd guess 5% were my cookbooks. I recall only 2 or 3 recipes (not whole books) that I regret not keeping.

                                    So, I now copy or scan individual must-keep recipes and ditch the book.

                                    Feels so good to be "lighter" and freer from what became clutter.

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Middle ground recommendation from someone who purged slowly and lived to enjoy another day!

                                    First box them up and set them aside. Feeling queasy? Thinking about a particular title? Do you miss the little critters?

                                    In other words, live w/out them for a while but not completely and see if you're ready to purge.

                                    Which titles should be up to you. I wouldn't have a clue how to select for you.

                                    My cook book collection is very small today but I keep files/one sheets of very select recipes. It took me 30 years to purge though.

                                    Don't be hasty....box, time, decide.

                                    Oh and in my own case I donated the cookbooks to cooking schools, caterers, soup kitchens and colleges.

                                3. in same boat DQ.
                                  I suggest saving ones that have a certain sort of value: the 3 F's
                                  family
                                  friends
                                  favorites

                                  anything I don't read or care about I'm gonna toss to whoever likes the titles.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    Like mcf, I did a near-total purge and have never looked back. I kept 2 cookbooks, the McCalls book Mom gifted me on my wedding day, and her old, old White House Cookbook.

                                    I was using a few of the others regularly, but have found the recipes I used most online. And wonder of wonders, while searching out this recipe or that technique, I almost always get distracted by ANOTHER recipe or technique and find myself following it, too. I wouldn't have thought that I'd learn more about cooking and food by ditching my books, but I did, and still am.

                                  2. I will never get rid of books that I actually like and cook a lot from, even if they are online. Like geekmon already said, they could disappear. (Unless you archive it yourself). Have you got rid of all the books that you never felt inspired to cook from? That's where I'll start.

                                    By the way, I just bought my first digital cookbook. I'm hoping that will help with my space problem.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: lilham

                                      I saw your post in buttertart's thread about acquiring the digital version of Jerusalem and wondered if it's something I should contemplate, or at least try. But I just hate having the cash outflow with "nothing" to show for it. What if I decided I didn't like the book and wanted to give it away or sell it? You can't really do that with a digital edition of a book, can you?

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I was forced to PURGE 6 years ago for a cross country move. Down to 200 ESSENTIALS. I went through the rejects, cooked anything I wanted, put the recipe on a DB, then donated it or sold it on Ebay. Now I am up to 450, sooooo I am thinking we need to all address the adictive aspect of this "hobby".

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I purged cookbooks during a move 10+ years ago. I have gradually bought back a great number of them in the intervening years. I'd advise you to keep what you have unless you need the money.

                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              It's not really about money. Mostly about space: physical space, of course, but also head space, if that makes any sense. My collection has gotten big enough that sometimes I can't even remember if *that* is a book I own. EYB helps with that, of course, but I do feel weirdly stressed that I'm not intimately familiar with my own cookbook collection.

                                              Also, I just want to be a careful consumer given the fragile state of our planet.

                                              ~TDQ

                                          2. re: annfaulkner

                                            I made an enormous purge during an international relocation -- I kept my lowly red-and-white-checked Better Homes & Gardens, and my disgracefully abused Joy (which I frankly need to just replace, as it's falling to pieces), plus a few smaller ones that I use regularly.

                                            I still buy small recipe books from various regions, but the big heavy tomes are gone.

                                            I cannot honestly give you a single title that went to charity that I would want to have back.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I still have my red and white BH&G. Well, not really. I have my husband's--we each had one and, as a consession, we kept his and gave mine away.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                It gets picked on a lot, but there's a lot of really good, really dependable recipes there...

                                          3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I believe in copyright and will never just give away digital copies of books just because I could. However I do think we should be able to share or give them away when we don't want them anymore. You can remove the drm and mr lilham and me shares kindle books this way. (We have separate amazon accounts). I don't see it as wrong when we would have shared paperbacks. I know also he won't just email it around to everyone.

                                            You have I think 7 or 14 days to return a kindle book. I think I'm more likely to return than a physical book because a lot of times I just can't be bothered to go to the post office. I'm thinking of that McKay book.

                                            I'm not sure how I feel about giving away the cookbooks once I no longer want them. I have not been in that situation yet. But then I won't need to purge because of lack of space will I?

                                        1. Do you actually follow their recipes, or just use them for inspiration. If the latter, cull stringently and peruse the interwebs for ideas, I have been cooking for over 4 decades but have no more than 3 dozen cookbooks, half of them dating back to a brief cookbook club membership. I've never gotten rid of any. A firm rule now is to steer clear of one-topic cookbooks. I'm referring to something like "Webbing" (I made that up). It will be presented as having 300 recipes showing you how to make duck web, peach web, broccoli web,.... But on further investigation, you find that a goodly number of the recipes are generic filler for accompaniments like a mignonette and hard tack to go with the oyster web. And a brownie recipe for dessert.

                                          19 Replies
                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            hahahahaha...that was so funny, the "Webbing" business.

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              Mostly, I do follow the recipes as best I can.

                                              I see your point about one-topic cookbooks. I picked up one recently about quinoa--maybe I should give that one a hard look (which I really haven't).

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                I struck up a conversation with a fellow customer in line at a big kitchen and cooking supply store. She mentioned that she cooks professionally and owns 400 cookbooks, and I asked if she had any favourites she could recommend. She said Quinoa 365 and The Joy of Cooking. My daughter and I have a habit of making fun of all the quinoa cookbooks that are coming out lately (seriously... there are about ten on the market right now!) and I confess I still haven't looked at any of them, not even Quinoa 365.

                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                  I bought Quinoa 365 when it first came out and returned it after a good look though. Now, mind you, I almost never return books, I always find an excuse to keep them :) What I realized bothered me about the book that most recipes were a substitute of whatever it orginally contained to quinoa and I do not like recipes like that. The same goes for gluton free. There are natural GF recipes (flourless cakes or based on ground nuts) that taste great and then there are those that sub wheat flour for bean flour or whatever and taste evil. The same with quinoa - not evil but boring.

                                                  1. re: herby

                                                    Yes, I definitely agree about the GF books. Almost every GF cookbook in our local library system has made its way through our house in the past few months. I find most of them are the "webbing" type of cookbook mentioned by greygarious above -- a few interesting GF recipes (often, very irritatingly, based on a special GF flour blend that you have to mail-order from the cookbook author who assumes all his/her readers live in the same country) and then lots of recipes for things like soups, salads, roast beef etc that just ARE gluten-free anyway.

                                                  2. re: geekmom

                                                    Quinoa 365 is the one I have. I really love quinoa and have been cooking with it for about 20 years, and am always looking for new things to do with it. My impression of the book, though, that there are some recipes in there just for the sake of having some recipes in that "category". So, it's as if the publisher said you need recipes for every course of the meal, from soup to dessert, whether it makes sense or not. Some just seemed like a stretch to me. Still, what if I got a few great ones out of it?

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      If you do, I hope you'll post here about it; one of these days I'll actually get that book out of the library & give it a go. I actually do like quinoa, and I think I just get irritated with food fads. :-)

                                                    2. re: geekmom

                                                      A few months back I mentioned to my husband that I was going to try to cook more quinoa and kale this year. He gave me one of "those" looks and said "Don't try too hard."

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        Didn't he have the same look a about tofu?

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          Sure did, and now he has come out as an admitted tofu fan. And he's just reheated some pasta with brussels sprouts (unthinkable 2 years ago).

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            I served my husband "hearty spinach" last week. We've also had "nutty cous cous" as a side dish. (Read: kale, quinoa).

                                                            Oh, and "soy sauce tinted rice" has been a winner too. (Brown rice)

                                                            1. re: cheesecake17

                                                              I'm re-reading this now, after a year and a half, and it really makes me laugh.

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Yes, that post is funny, but this thread taken as a whole is SO sad! Most everyone really really doesn't want to lose even one book, yet keeping them is leading to guilt, spats with spouse, ugly crowded living spaces, on and on.
                                                                I've given up, I keep them. I think it's for the same reason kids won't go to bed -- they're afraid they're gonna miss something!
                                                                I give up old novels all the time -- how many times am I gonna read "Bonfire of the Vanities"??
                                                                It wouldn't be bad if we added only 12 a year, like COTM does.

                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                  Well ... except ... I did give up lots and lots of books not long after this thread started, and amazingly (to me) I haven't missed a single one. Now of course this might mean that I had junky cookbooks (but I don't think so), or it might mean that there are just some books that a person doesn't end up cooking from despite best intentions. And I've been pretty strict about my buying habits with new ones for the past year. Yes, I've bought cookbooks, but way, way less than I had in the past. I have so many that I still haven't delved into as much as I would like, and that is how I try to think about it when something new shows up in my peripheral vision.

                                                                  That said, the number of novels in this house is unbelievable. And I feel like I purged that when we moved here. but my goodness ...

                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                    Books make little babies while we are sleeping. Some days I think entire shelves have been populated while I was looking away. On a more serious note, I love being surrounded by books. In this house, I have far fewer than any other. It was hard to part with all those favorite titles, and I spent hours placing them with just the right new owner.

                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                      That explains it. I have been working for months to clear out books. I sell a few books a week on Amazon. I bring at least one grocery bag a week to Half Price Books. I don't buy any books (ok, maybe one) while I am at HPB.

                                                                      Granted I haven't reorganized all the routed bookshelves, but it looks like I've only cleared two shelves! Book babies. Dammit. Now what?!

                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                        I have noticed that stadium cups, promotional coffee mugs, drink coozies, and wire hangers reproduce in the cupboard at an alarming rate, too.

                                                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                                                        Also, we sometimes outgrow cookbooks or they go out of style.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Excellent point! I hadn't really thought of that but so true.

                                                    3. I think you can purge anyone who has had a tv show. I have been going through my books to add recipes to my Pinterest so I can access the recipes from work (where I do my meal planning) and I know I was able to find every Ina Garten recipe I had marked in the book online from various sources. Same for Tyler Florence's Ultimates cookbook since he had a show with the same title and many of the recipes were made on the show and were available on foodnetwork.com. You will miss out on the writeups and the nice photos but at least for me, once I've read them once I don't need to read again. The Florence books that came out after his tv show ended were not as available.

                                                      Perhaps you can take some of the books you are considering purging and go through them with your computer to see how much is available online before making your final decisions.

                                                      Also if there's books where you really only like/feel inspired by a few of the recipes, why not photocopy them and keep in a binder, then ditch the book?

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                        I totally disagree with the available online theory. Once the books are gone, how will I ever stay inspired to put together menus? I live for paging through my books, reading through the intros, salivating over the pictures. I couldn't imagine turning in my hard copies for online versions unless absolutely necessary. That is not to say I don't read recipes online, bookmarking blogs and the like but they are not a replacement for my precious cookbooks!

                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                          See for me, once I read through the book once, I don't really do it again, except to read the recipes. As already mentioned many times in this thread, cookbooks and their uses are a very personal thing.

                                                      2. I need to purge too, TDQ, but fortunately I can purge to my daughter's house where I have a good size bookshelf and it is pretty empty. I decided to buy one more bookshelf for my apartment but that will be that. I have lots of books, not just cookbooks, and it's becoming a problem.

                                                        However.... I looked at books that were COTM since I joined CHOW and started participating in COTM and here is what I would do.

                                                        1. Let Go
                                                        As I looked at titles that never tempted me to own them, I realize that many are "chef" books and it is enough to have one of these but not everyone that comes out. Not all are the same of course. Another category is huge compilation tomes. I would let go of the ones below and would keep one or two of Jamie Oliver, Ina Garter and Mario Batali books:
                                                        The Gourmet
                                                        The Splendid Table
                                                        My Calabria
                                                        The Essential NY Times
                                                        Nigel Slater books
                                                        Nigella Lawson books
                                                        Bittman books

                                                        I would also let go of:
                                                        The Homesick Texan (nothing appeals)
                                                        Cook This Now (found it boring)

                                                        2. Keep For Now
                                                        Just because I have not cooked enough from them and have not spent enough time reading them, these books are staying awhile:
                                                        The Union Square
                                                        Planet BBQ
                                                        Fish Without a Doubt
                                                        The Olive and the Caper (wasn't impressed with dishes I made when it was COTM but still in doubt and should give the book another dose of attention)
                                                        Essential Pepin (too many recipes include Tabasco! but need to cook more from it to decide)
                                                        Seductions of Rice

                                                        3. Definite Keepers
                                                        * 660 Curries - I love to cook Indian food and loved almost everything I made from this book; I continue to go back to it for recipes, spice blends, condiments and general advice. The best ever cheesecake recipe!
                                                        * The Food of Spain - love this book; everything I make from it is wonderful and reading it continues to be a pleasure.
                                                        * Japanese Cooking - love everything about this book from advise (go to a sushi restaurant as soon as it opens) to stories/history to recipes. Liked Washoku very much (it was a library copy) but since then bought Japanese Farm Food and need to play with it before deciding if I "need" Washoku as well - my sense is not just because I am still not comfortable with Japanese cuisine but love it and will continue to practice.
                                                        * 150 Best - are indeed the "best" recipes there are - everything I made, and I made many, turned out tasty and company worthy. I love the layout, its small format, the writing.

                                                        That's all for me. Hope this helps you, TDQ; it sure helped me to look at COTM books that I own and cooked from and sort out my impressions. Thanks for the great thread!

                                                        6 Replies
                                                          1. re: herby

                                                            You're not the first, herby, to mention your dislike of huge compilation tomes and I gasp every time I read it. Both Gourmet cookbooks and The Essential NYTimes Cookbook have replaced my old standbys like Joy, Doubleday, and Fannie Farmer. Replaced in usage, that is; not physically. I hold on to the old books for reference, but it's the new ones I cook from. Mostly with great success. I might get rid of Bittman, but never, ever Slater. And certainly not Splendid Table.

                                                            The only two comparatively recent COTMs I'd ditch would be How to Eat (nothing there I don't have better elsewhere) and Raising the Salad Bar (boring).

                                                            I'm about to do a purge as well, but other than the above mentioned books, and a few old COTMs that I just never got into such as Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, what I'll be throwing out are books I've had for decades that just haven't held up all that well such as a few comprehensive pasta books and books such as Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking.

                                                            I'd be apprehensive about attempting too big a cleanout, but even three feet of additional space would be a big help.

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              Agreed. Freeing up even three feet would be liberating!

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                I'd be heartbroken if someone took my Gourmet Today cookbook away. I make so many things from that book, and love them. The Asian turkey burgers are in heavy rotation.

                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  JoanN, re the tomes, I wish I could make better use of them. I was just paging through my ENYT cookbook yesterday and I have 100s of tabs, but I never seem to cook from it. Just too much there I guess.

                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                    Unlike books such as "Jerusalem" or "Burma," I practically never thumb through the compendiums and say "Oooh. I want to make that!" I decide I want to make something and very often discover in those books a version that appeals to me. And more often than not, I find recipes I want to make in ENYT (and the other compendium books) by plugging ingredients I want to use into EYB. They may not be recipes that go immediately into regular rotation, but they're nearly always tasty, satisfying dishes, many of which don't require a huge amount of preplanning or prep.

                                                              2. The one time I purged my cookbooks I was traumatized - I'll never do it again unless someone puts a gun to my head ;) 99% of the time I don't follow the recipes verbatim, but I do draw inspiration from them and can't bear to give them up. I agree with everyone who has pointed out the growing trend toward paying for online content - it may not always be easy or free to access the recipes that are currently available on the web, so don't toss certain books just because the authors have an online presence right now.

                                                                If you haven't revisited a book at all since it was COTM, perhaps it's worthy of the donation pile. Otherwise I'd just box up the ones you're not currently using a lot and keep the boxes handy in case you want to get to them. I've done this in the past and I kept an itemized list so I knew where each book was in case I decided I wanted to pull it out.

                                                                Other options if you *really* want to get rid of some: photocopy your favorite recipes from each one and save them in a folder or binder; or create a list of the books you're giving away with the names & page numbers of all the recipes you might want to make again, and if the urge strikes, borrow the book from the library...or ask your fellow Hounds to paraphrase for you!

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Traumatized is what I don't want to be! I'm really leaning towards the "box up" approach right now.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    I recently went through my pile of clipped out recipes and scanned in those I've used and loved or those I think I really will try to my recipes folder in my documents. I use Carbonite for backup, so no fear of losing my decades old digital and article collections.

                                                                    I think it's a great idea to scan favorites from cookbooks you've had long enough to know which recipes you'll need/want for any reason, including inspiration, and unclutter your life. AS LONG AS YOU BACK UP YOUR FILES!

                                                                    My new rule about most things I buy for my house is something must leave for each new thing that comes in.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      I am scanning and purging from books that are generic types of collections. I don't feel like I am really losing them that way. I will move on to other sections of my collection-local, international, specific subjects and specific authors. Carbonite is great.

                                                                  2. Sweet TDQ -- first, quit using the words purge and purging -- such grim undertones in those words!
                                                                    Then take the books you are least impressed with, copy (or at least note) the recipes you wanna keep. It's not like anyone out here has the last copy of anything! The world is full of the book and the information you're holding -- let someone else hold it for a while.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      Ah- but maybe not! I have several cookbooks where, when trying to find favorite recipes from them online (to save into Pinterest or Pepper Plate), they are nowhere to be found. I purchased The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen about a year ago. Was the first time I had paid significantly more than the cover price for a cookbook (was out of print and very hard to aquire). That book will never be "purged" from my collection.

                                                                      I'm sure there are plenty of my collection that I could do without but I love the ability to skim through them. With the printed word becoming more and more scarce, the undiscovered recipes in the books you might not use very often could be treasures in the coming years. You just never know!

                                                                    2. Im going to adopt a rule of not buying big fat tomes at Costco any more
                                                                      Ive already de-accessioned Roden's Spanish book and Pepin, and Hesser's Essential NYT cookbook is next on the list

                                                                      the sheer size of these books is repellant and Ive found I really dont need compilations at this
                                                                      point

                                                                      Im a bit underwhelmed by My Calabria
                                                                      Breakfast, Lunch Tea went out the door last year

                                                                      I usually dont buy chef or tv personality books-

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                        HA! Good rule about the tomes, though I personally love Hesser's ENYTC. I have the Roden and Pepin, too and haven't been able to bring myself to part with them because I am certain there are some gems in there. Can't part with BLT because it was hard enough to acquire in the first place and would be hard to re-acquire if I changed my mind. Plus, she has a new book coming out and, glutton for punishment that I am, I am kind of curious.

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I'm pretty heartless and non- sentimental. I also haven't kept up with cotm lately. But, if you have cooked from Pepin, roden, and the Texas book and haven't had any real positive experiences with them, get rid of them. But, if you feel doubt, I would stick all the books, in a box, with a sticky inside as to when the last time you looked at the book or cooked from it. If its been more then a year, it's probably safe to get rid of said book.

                                                                      2. I just had an interesting thing happen. I'm on this thread and I got thinking that there are some cookbooks that I'm going to donate to the local thrift store. I'm thinking I'll take a picture of them and post it here and ask you all which cook books are you going to purge. I go to my 'treasure trove' and choose two books that are 'must purge'. Get the camera ready and as I'm about to take the picture I think: "Well I better have a quick look at them to see if there's some loose notes in them." I realize that these two little obscure cookbooks are actually full of great recipes and what was I thinking! They are safely back where they belong now. LOL
                                                                        .

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                                          HA! Now I have to know: what two books were they?

                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                            Yes, I too am curious to know which books you nearly let go of!

                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                              Now I want to know as well....yoo hoo...Puffin....come back and share!!

                                                                            2. I purge rather frequently. My mother's cookbook collection is over 700 books, and now, when i look at it, i wonder how to "dispose" of so many, rather than how many wonderful recipes i might loose.

                                                                              i looked at the list: i've gotten rid of several of those "all encompassing" books that tell you a little about a lot of subjects. Gourmet recipes are online at epicurious, so i don't keep any Gourmet. I personally think The Splendid Table is a keeper, but that's because it's the food i grew up with and love - if you grew up in texas, you might need that homesick texan book.

                                                                              if you don't know if you can part with it, perhaps you can't. I purge a stack (i have about 14 waiting right now..) then leave them for about a month to make sure we aren't going to miss them. If there are 3 or more recipes that we use, it's probably a keeper.

                                                                              1. I dunno.... Others can give you their lists, but in the end only you can decide what are your must-keeps and which ones you can toss. [I just saw one of my "must-keeps," "the Splendid Table," on another poster's give-away list. So there you go!]

                                                                                I cook professionally and also write about food and wine, and I too have MANY cookbooks. I have purged quite a number of them over the years, and most of them I can't even remember their names -- that's how much I used them!
                                                                                No matter how many I get rid of, though, others somehow manage to rise to take their places.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                  Yes, I think this is the conclusion I'm coming to. It's very personal about which to keep and which to discard. And I've seen a few books (mostly of a "tome" nature) I've really enjoyed on other people's purge lists, though to be fair, I do wonder how much more cooking from those big tomes I'll be doing...

                                                                                  I think I may take this purge a little more slowly than I was originally thinking. I'm thinking Homesick Texan can definitely go though! While I might be a little homesick, it's not for Texas. And even the former Texans participating in COTM that month didn't seem that smitten with the book.

                                                                                  P.S. apologies to blue room for my word choice. :).

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Haha thank you, TDQ. I prefer "nudge...out of the nest" or a culinary cull or skim the foam or something.

                                                                                    Poster rmarisco said "If there are 3 or more recipes that we use, it's probably a keeper."
                                                                                    That's a pretty scant number, in books that have 100+ recipes.
                                                                                    It tends to make me very non-sentimental about the books I buy.
                                                                                    Or maybe it's the books I've been sold.
                                                                                    Don't mean to sound bitter here, just pragmatic!

                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                      If there are three recipes, commit them to a digital file and LET GO, I say.

                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                        "Skim the foam"

                                                                                        I love that! That's what I'll call it from now on. Skimming the foam from my collection.

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                          Excellent metaphor. We're _clarifying_ our collections... <g>

                                                                                  2. TDQ,

                                                                                    Your efforts are admirable. If I were to purge, I'd likely start w non COTM books since there's at least a chance I might look back on the COTM threads for inspiration. That said, The Homesick Texan definitely underwhelmed and like you, I could purge it without regret.

                                                                                    TDQ, since you're on EYB, why not post a link to your bookshelf and maybe we'll have some suggestions from that list.

                                                                                    1. Letting go of those on the COTM list is fairly risk-free. Your public library probably has copies, if you just want to read for fun or need 1 recipe. And you can also find used copies of most books within a few months if you're patient.

                                                                                      I had to downsize my collection by about half when I got a new tall rotating corner bookshelf for the kitchen, making space for a pantry cabinet. The two-step process -- first move them to boxes in the basement, for 3 months -- worked well for me. Donating to a charity that runs a thrift shop also worked -- they went to a good cause. I chose to keep most of the regional / local spiral bound cookbooks I picked up when we travelled -- great recipes with a sense of place. I have not missed any of the hardcover books I donated. including one from the COTM list - the NY Times Cookbook. I did keep one other from the COTM list - the Martha Stewart Hors d'Oeurves book, because I've used several of the recipes and enjoy the photos / presentation ideas.

                                                                                      1. I like the box idea if you have the space and/or aren't trying to do this before the new year.

                                                                                        I have a lot of recipes bookmarked online, but I don't trust them to be there forever

                                                                                        1. If I were to purge any cookbooks from my small collection, I would first check the library's online catalog to make sure that a copy is available there.

                                                                                          1. This discussion gives a whole new meaning to "binge and purge"!

                                                                                            I only buy a few cookbooks a year, so I'm still not at the point where I have nowhere to put new ones. Still, I'm not the type to periodically cull my collection. I have cookbooks I haven't used in years (some never) and CDs that I haven't listened to in years, but I still keep them. I guess I'm of the mind that someday I may want to investigate them again. I don't find that my library having a copy of a particular cookbook obviates the need for me to own it. It's just too inconvenient to have to drive to a library to borrow a book for a recipe, not to mention the possibility that the book is checked out when I want it. As to a recipe website, it depends on how much content is there. Sometimes an online site includes only a small percentage of the recipes in the related book (Rosetta Costantino's website and her book My Calabria, a recent COTM, is an example), in which case it's worth my money to get the book.

                                                                                            1. We moved last year. We had been in the same house for 12 years which was hte longest either of us had been at one address since childhood. WE had moved into a relatively empty house and when it came time to pack it up were shocked at how much we'd accumulated in those 12 years....so we purged. Heavily.

                                                                                              Included in this purge was my cookbook collection which had taken over two entire bookshelf consoles. I purged about 85% of the books and haven't missed them. I kept only books I regularly cooked out of or referenced frequently for technique or ideas. The rest went. Really, I haven't missed a single one of them a year later...and still do reach for the ones I kept frequently.

                                                                                              Friends and family were invited to look through the purged books and the rest were donated to the public library.

                                                                                              Since moving we've been very mindful of what we've added to the new house. You mentioned headspace....I feel so much better after letting so many things we had go.

                                                                                              Good luck!

                                                                                              1. OK., first of all, I don't understand what you mean by "Cookbook Purge" - what a strange idea! Kidding.

                                                                                                I had about 550, got it down to about 450, and have since added a few more.

                                                                                                TDQ, we live in the same area - maybe we should do some trading,,,,,

                                                                                                1. There are a lot of great ideas here, and it really is a personal choice. Verifying that the library has copies is a good idea, you can then purge those tomes, especially if they take up a lot of space.

                                                                                                  I like to keep my old school cook books, as the recipes are hard to come by these days. Things like a NYT cookbook from '61, or some of my James Beard ones, a few old school cook books from my Mum and Grandmum one of which even has a recipe for 'possum. These have recipes I know I will never find anywhere.

                                                                                                  But for newer recipes, cooking styles I mainly go online. I have two angle hooks on a cupboard door that holds my iPad. I can view the recipes easily and play music at the same time! I find that it's much easier to follow a recipe this way, and it doesn't take up any of my minimal counter space.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                    Libraries purge too, I wouldn't count on getting a library copy forever.

                                                                                                  2. I have a hard time letting go of any cookbooks. Although if I went through my shelves I could probably purge a few.

                                                                                                    1. Here's a fun group of ideas
                                                                                                      http://pinterest.com/beecarlady/creat...
                                                                                                      if what you *really* want is more room, not fewer books.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                        Oh my goodness - a Tardis bookshelf!! Just the thing for our den. I will show that to Mr Geek.

                                                                                                        1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                          I can tell by the talk of indecision and regret that more space is what's needed. Think about it, it's the easiest thing in the world to get rid of what you don't want -- you *don't want it*, right?
                                                                                                          A small help for me are shelves on wheels--at the very least you can move them out of the way, put them in another room etc.
                                                                                                          Something like this:
                                                                                                          http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6056-53...
                                                                                                          I use a few of these for small appliances -- things I don't use every day but want handy. I think you could easily get lots of books on one of these, or any shelves on wheels.

                                                                                                           
                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                            This is exactly how it is for me. I have no problem getting rid of things I no longer use or want, including plenty of books I've sold or donated. But even though I have an enormous cookbook collection & not enough space, I've carefully chosen each and every one of them, I love them all & can't bear to part with any of them.

                                                                                                            This is a great suggestion btw, if you have some place out of the way to roll the cart. I have three rollaways in my kitchen with various kinds of countertops for various purposes and they've made my kitchen much more functional and usable, especially since I don't have much built in counter space.

                                                                                                      2. I like to keep books that lay out some techniques I'm not totally comfortable with or have some other encyclopedia-like quality. Also those with sentimental value or a really creative approach.

                                                                                                        My collection is really pared down: "L'encyclopédie de la cuisine canadienne" by Jehane Benoit, a 1960s brick passed down from my grandma, along with a little recipe booklet from the convent where my mom went to school; "In the Sweet Kitchen" by Regan Daley; "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day" by Jeff Hertzberger and Zoe François; "Fresh Food Fast" by Peter Berley; and "Plenty" by Yotam Ottolenghi.

                                                                                                        The rest I can look up online.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                                                                          That's remarkably restrained, piccola.

                                                                                                          The five current cookbook authors ought to be especially gratified to know their work made the cut in a selection that stringent.

                                                                                                          1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                            I've had to move so many times that I've gotten out of the habit of buying books! And the library is so close...

                                                                                                            1. re: piccola

                                                                                                              this all seems so personal. For some of us, our cookbook collections are mainly about daily use, for others, they are more like reference collections that we may dip into more for info than cooking. Its a lot easier to talk about what books are keepers and what are losers than to bridge over the different ways we think of our cookbooks.If I applied the three recipe standard, most of my carefully selected books would go, but many fewer if I asked whether I had read through the book, used it to search for an obscure recipe or ingredient or supplement my understanding of a cuisine or recipe> While the web has tons of useful info, it doesnt yet sub for the expertise and care that has gone into producing these books.

                                                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                Agreed, and I'm not saying everyone should use the same criteria I am. I just find that after the first read, I tend to forget about the cookbooks I own, unless they explain basic techniques or show wild creativity. I keep the ones I go back to often.

                                                                                                        2. I have packed bookshelves into just about every conceivable space in my modest home & I still keep acquiring new books. I have skimmed a couple of times in the past but even though I have over 850 cookbooks right now there is almost nothing I could bear to part with. I really love books, & digital books just don't cut it for me. I wish I could help but I'm no help at all. All I can say in my defense is that at least I seemed to have reached the point of saturation in some categories (italian, mexican, bread baking, general baking for starters) and a book would have to be absolutely spectacular to make the cut now if it was in one of those categories, among others.

                                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                            flourgirl, when the time comes that I'm ready to sell & purge my large collection of pop up books, shall I contact you?

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                Only four (so far) but very rare. Each is only a few pages but the paper engineering is priceless. Oh and one children's pop up about food (that flourgirl knows about already) came out a few years ago.

                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                  Crossovers! My DIL collects pop ups. What would the titles be?

                                                                                                                  1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                    Sorry wekick, you'll have to do your own pop up hunting. The titles are so special and rare I just can't be that generous.

                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      Hands off, I promise, "I'm just here for the FOOD" as Alton Brown's book is titled --
                                                                                                                      If yours are actual cookbooks meant to be used by adults, how neat!
                                                                                                                      Haha there is a huge untapped market here.

                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        Really, HillJ? - Not even listing the titles/authors so others can seek out their own copies of them???

                                                                                                                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                          Really. The hunt is the whole adventure to serious collectors. Put in the time, reap the rewards. And, that's how collectors (like me) roll.

                                                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                          Sorry I certainly didn't mean to offend you. I belong to a couple different groups of collectors and we are always thrilled to tell about our finds. Kindred souls are sometimes far and few between and the only ones that really appreciate them. We actually saw a deco Christmas pamphlet on desserts that had very simple pop ups a few weeks ago for $6 at an antique mall in rural Illinois. My interest was Christmas and deco but it was in really rough shape so I didn't buy it. I hadn't thought they would be so hard to come by! You probably look at ebay, but we have found some things on ebay in Europe you can't find here. There are some cute ones about cake(One about a birthday cake), pie and candy on there now. Good Luck with your collection!

                                                                                                                          1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                            wekick, pls don't misunderstand me. I am not in the least bit offended and I didn't mean to offend anyone else in the process. I took an opportunity to reconnect with CH flourgirl over a very specific thing. I am a serious collector, pop ups are a part of my extensive collection, but I am also a rarity hunter. It's competitive, expensive and the rarity of such items makes it hard for me to "give away" my shopping tips. I just don't. But I encourage anyone who is interested in collecting to invest the time to learn about what is out there, where to find it and what the values are. That's how I learned. 35 plus years.

                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                              All is well. I've collected something old all my life. I am deeply indebted to the collectors who took the time to teach me about things even as a child. I did learn the shopping more on my own though. Sometimes it is just you get what you are supposed to have. My other DIL has the touch. She can go to a thrift store and come out with exactly what she is looking for. Anyway this will give me something else to look for poking around. I like finding the unfound more than buying online.

                                                                                                                              This came up on my Pinterest this morning.
                                                                                                                              http://popularkinetics.wordpress.com/... .

                                                                                                                              1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                                How cool is that! It's a pleasure to meet a fellow hunter!

                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        Oh, I so wish I hadn't read your comment children's pop-up cookbooks. That's a rabbit hole I totally fell into. This one sounds super cute: http://www.amazon.com/Feed-Hungry-Gia... Our toddler is so into cooking right now. I've bought him all kinds of children's books on food, hoping some love of food will rub off on him...

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                          DQ, the children's title was featured in a CHOW article soon after the Obsessives story ran on the Cookbook store in NY. Should be in the archives. It's an adorable book.

                                                                                                                          http://www.chow.com/videos#!/show/obs...
                                                                                                                          check out the comment section below the video story.

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            http://www.chow.com/food-news/7077/3-...

                                                                                                                            TDQ, here you go. This is the pop up children's title. This book is not hard to find, although you might find a second-hand copy is the only way to own the title.

                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                              HAHA! This thread is turning out to be as dangerous for me as Buttertart's "what cookbooks are you lusting after" threads. I think I've purchased six children's books (including the two in the links provided by HillJ and LLM) on food and/or cooking...and Greene on Greens! We read these childrens books over and over and over again. I don't mind at all investing in those.

                                                                                                                              Thank you!

                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                Good for you! Start the Chowbaby off right!

                                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                              Not a pop-up, but a book that got Lulu very interested in foods from around the world was My Mother Loves Me More than Sushi. I think TDP is right about the age we started reading it together - we found it at the library and had many fun hours cuddling with it. Also helped her learn some geography as a bonus.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                Here is the link (I got the title slightly wrong, I think): http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Loves-More-...

                                                                                                                    2. Some cookbooks eventually lose their charm....except for that one recipe that forces you keep the book. Shame on me, but that is when I carefully remove that page and dispose of the cookbook. It took me years to overcome the guilt, but some had to go.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: BeachCookie107

                                                                                                                        why not scan or copy the page? Then you could donate the book, and someone else could enjoy it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: BeachCookie107

                                                                                                                          Really...are you the same BeachCookie tearing the recipes out of the food magazines in the doctors waiting area? Drives me up the wall!! :)

                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                            No, I don't tear out recipes at doctor's office magazines, but some of my old, old cookbooks are falling apart and not suitable for donation. I'm the girl who works in a doctor's office and brings in unadulterated magazines for the waiting room!

                                                                                                                              1. re: BeachCookie107

                                                                                                                                Even if your cookbooks have fallen apart or you are taking pages out of them, I know that we would love to take them at the preschools that I have worked at. We do lots of collage and similar things with the kids, and several times a year we do healthy eating projects - if they have pictures, you may want to put in a call to a few local day cares or preschools to see if they would be interested.

                                                                                                                          2. Clearly, as cookbooks all hold different degrees of meaning to each of us, we can't help you much! Cookbooks and novels create the same problem for me. There are just so many recipes that I'm bookmarking online and cookbooks on my amazon wishlist, so many novels I'd like to read and an endless flow of new material, it's unlikely I'll return to most most of the cookbooks and novels on my shelf. It would take five lifetimes to cook through all my cookbooks and read all I'd like to read! I've already pared my cookbook collection down to only two shelves of a bookshelf, and I can think of at least twenty I'd like to acquire!

                                                                                                                            I say keep the stand-bys, the heirlooms, and those with unique culinary perspectives and personalities in the writing and instruction. Any cookbook that holds only a handful of recipes can go- scan the pages you're likely to return to, set it free and make room for fresh thoughts.

                                                                                                                            Has there been a thread for cookbook trading or swapping? Or giving away, even? I'm sure there are plenty of us longing to get our hands on what others have finished with. (I, for example, will gladly take Plenty off your hands!)

                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: gwendolynmarie

                                                                                                                              Has there been a thread for cookbook trading or swapping? Or giving away, even? I'm sure there are plenty of us longing to get our hands on what others have finished with. (I, for example, will gladly take Plenty off your hands!)
                                                                                                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                              Now that's just brillance! Could be an OP and a Sticky and a CHOW blog item!

                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                  The suggestion of an on-board cookbook swap came up in '06 and the CH team nixed it at the time. They did say, however, that they liked the idea and might look into it in the future. Certainly worth asking again if their original objections still stand.

                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/319812

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                      Thank you for posting that! I will go ahead and post directly on that thread!

                                                                                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                      We talked a bit about regional swaps upthread.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                        Thanks sandylc, I saw that. Interesting!

                                                                                                                                  1. I have been following this thread with much interest. Although I don't have as many cookbooks as some posters (only about 130), I also have a small house and don't want them taking it over. Over the past couple of years, I have donated about 25 of them, being somewhat ruthless. Well, time to get ruthless again. I'll be doing major weeding out (of many things, not just cookbooks!). So, I plan to do what I do with clothing--for every new item of clothing that comes into the house, one must leave the house. Since Santa Mom and Santa Sis gifted me with three new cookbooks this year, I've removed three from my existing ones (they are now in the pile of donateable books). Good luck with your purge!

                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                      I like your "ruthless" idea, but I go one step further: for any 1 new item coming into the house (whatever type/category, including kitchen gadgets or cookbooks), 2 things have to go...it's a less painful way of actually decreasing the amount of "stuff" we have.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                        I'm glad this thread was helpful to you, and to have companionship in downsizing!

                                                                                                                                        It's taken me awhile to figure out how to make sense of this thread because, although I received fantastic advice, it wasn't really what I expected.

                                                                                                                                        So, here goes.

                                                                                                                                        I did a major cookbook downsize about a year ago. I got rid of books I was just hanging onto for sentimental reasons or for just one recipe. Also, some books I'd outgrown. I felt great after that downsizing: I thought I had PLENTY of room to (gradually) grow.

                                                                                                                                        But, since that time, I've (somewhat) haphazardly acquired a ton of new books and now am feeling overwhelmed again. So, what I'm realizing is that I probably only need to re-assess my recent acquisitions.

                                                                                                                                        Furthermore, for 2013 I need to develop some more discipline re: cookbooks. I'm going to try harder to actually cook from a book (either by checking a book out from the library or finding recipes online) before purchasing it.

                                                                                                                                        In the past, COTM has driven most of my cookbook acquistions. And it's not just that I had to have the book, but I had to have it right away so I could start cooking at the start of the month along with everyone else, whether I'd had a chance to research the book or not.

                                                                                                                                        Though I have loved my time in participating in COTM, I've learned so much and developed wonderful friendships, I've decided to deliberately reduce my participation in those threads for the first few months of 2013. Instead, I will try to focus on cooking from the books I already have. (HA! Famous last words, right?)

                                                                                                                                        Finally, I'm going to institute a new rule. For every cookbook I acquire (from which I will hopefully have already cooked a few recipes if I stick to my plan), I have to choose another seldom-used book in my collection and cook 3 recipes from it. Based on that, I can decide whether that book should stay or go. I probably won't get rid of that many books, but at least I will feel confident that I am aquiring them thoughtfully and using the books I already own.

                                                                                                                                        Thank you everyone for your input!

                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                          Sounds like a really good plan, and I wish you lots of luck. I hope you post on the old COTM threads if you cook from those books, and I'll miss you on the new ones!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                            Not to worry, it's not forever. I just need to shift focus for awhile!

                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                              Ditto TDQ, we'll sure miss you on those nomination threads but totally understand and admire your decision to abstain. We'll look forward to following accounts of your success here or, perhaps you'll start a new thread to document your progress...?

                                                                                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                            TDQ that's why I prefer COTM with a reasonable number of online recipes. I just can't justify the space (and money) on books I am not sure about. That doesn't mean I don't end up with books I barely used though.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                              You could simply say "I'm TDQ, and I have a(n internet) shopping addiction with a specialization in cookbooks and I

                                                                                                                                              (a) accept myself the way I am, or

                                                                                                                                              (b) my life is unmanageable and I am powerless over shopping for cookbooks and I want to do something about it.

                                                                                                                                              I don't think hanging out on an Internet cooking site is going to much about (b). There may be a program for (a).

                                                                                                                                          3. TDQ--one piece of advice I'd give is to avoid the "what cookbooks are you lusting after"-type of threads!

                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                              Those are totally unhelpful, or helpful, depending on how you look at it. :) Everytime I read them I buy something.

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                Which is why I try not to read them too often! Too much temptation and enabling :)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                  I just add them to my Amazon wishlist, so at least I know I won't forget about them :) That way you'll have a chance to really think about whether or not you'll use them, read other reviews about them and do some research on the recipes from the book, and they're there waiting for you when you're ready to take the plunge. Also makes it easier for people to give them to you as gifts, just send them the link to your Amazon list when they ask what you would like :)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                    I use my amazon wish list as a guide to what I want to get out of the library. That way I can check them out and determine if they should stay on my wish list.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JulesLP

                                                                                                                                                      Wow, JulesLP, I do the same thing. And it's saved me a nice amount of money the past few months. It's a great method!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                                                        I'm a third person who pretty much does it this way.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: JulesLP

                                                                                                                                                        Now that I have a library membership and the Amazon app on my new iphone, I plan on doing the same thing :) I also might even just go to the regular bookstore one evening and page through a few... I can usually decide after looking through it once whether or not I'll cook from it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JulesLP

                                                                                                                                                          I do the same in order to remember which books I'd like to take out from the library, but once I added a whole pile of books to the list just before my birthday and my husband bought those ones for me as they were at the top of the list, and he assumed they were my pick of the litter. They all turned out to be duds. Not that I'm ungrateful....just wish he had read the "low priority" notes next to them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                            I had the same problem. (Seems like no one reads the priority notes). I created a "private wish list" that only I can see. Anything I know I will be getting one way or another goes on the public wish list and anything I want to take a look at or mull over goes on the private one. My private list is much longer than my public one and I have eliminated lots of books that I thought I wanted, but after seeing, decided just werent for me.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mothership

                                                                                                                                                              Hey, what a swell idea! I didn't know that 'private' lists existed! It shall be done. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                    2. Have only had a chance to read 1/2 through your thread DQ but had to post because the think I keep thinking as I read every post is, how can I get my hands on these books everyone is purging? I know, I am a sick puppy!

                                                                                                                                                      I just reorganized my shelves yesterday and only found one I could part with: The Louisiana New Garde. This book has sat unused on my shelves since long before I was married or had kids, and never once have I been motivated to cook from it. It has survived previous purges because it has recipes from people I know and admire but I am never going to cook from it. The same is true for Ruhlman's 20 and Harvest to Heat, both recent acquisitions, but these two will stay because of opinions posted on EYB.

                                                                                                                                                      1. This is not an answer you are looking for, but I'll deign to suggest it anyway... For the cookbooks you purge, look at every recipe in the book before you release it. If you find recipes you'd really like to hang onto, use a scanner to save the recipe to a pdf file.

                                                                                                                                                        I know digital is not the same. You see, I have a little cookbook problem of my own. Two huge bookshelves that take up one whole wall of my office, crammed to the gills with cookbooks. Once I reached capacity I had to bargain with myself to treat the shelves the same way I treat my closet: one new item in means one old item out. Because I do my shifting one book at a time I can afford to take the time to commit to digital copy the recipes I'd miss.

                                                                                                                                                        Good luck! It's tough to let go of leafy friends.

                                                                                                                                                        1. TDQ,

                                                                                                                                                          I was just looking over your list of potential purges. I am surprised that Ina, Homesick Texan, and Melissa are on your list of contenders since all three are the kind of books that offer tons of ideas for easy weeknight meals. Haven't you been acquiring all kinds of resources with just that in mind? Maybe none of the recipes in these books appeal to you, but if I was looking for recipes I could whip up with relatively no effort, these would be the books I would turn to.

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                            Excellent point, of course, DK.

                                                                                                                                                            First of all, I've decided to put the brakes on this project, somewhat. Instead of purging a bunch of books, I'm going to box them up and see how I feel about them.

                                                                                                                                                            Also, since I did a big purge a year ago, I think it's only my most recent acquisitions that I need to re-assess.

                                                                                                                                                            My real goal for 2013 is put myself on the slow track for cookbook acquisitions. And make a concerted effort to use the books I have. In the past, I would buy a book sight unseen if it was going to be COTM because I wanted to participate. The truth is, I haven't been good about participating, so now all I have is a stack of new books I haven't cooked from and a lot of guilt.

                                                                                                                                                            I'm still going to follow the COTM threads, but I think I'll wait until the rest of you have really vetted the book and the recipes before I dive in. I'm going to try 3 recipes from any book before I buy it. Either check the book out from the library, find a recipe online, or ask one of you to paraphrase it for me. That's my goal anyway. And if I buy a new book, my new goal is to try 3 new recipes from another book I already own, just to force myself to really dig into my books.

                                                                                                                                                            As far as Ina, that book is already gone. I'm not even sure I waited for her COTM month to be over! HA!I find Ina's recipes to be way too heavy on the butter, cream and cheese for everyday cooking, though her recipes are certainly reliable and delicious. Also, I've been able to find all of her recipes online, so no need to hang onto the book to get the recipes.

                                                                                                                                                            Melissa Clark's books are keepers, I think, for the reasons you describe, even though all her recipes might be online too. But, it's great to have a set of reliable weekend recipes in one place (or two places, I guess since I have both books!). I find Clark's recipes to be less over the top in terms of calories vs. Ina's.

                                                                                                                                                            Homesick Texan. That book seemed kinda to be a flop when it was COTM and my impression is that the people preferred the blog recipes to the book. My guess is Fain "borrowed" a lot of recipes (from your namesake, for instance) for her blog, and when it came time to produce a book, the publisher nixed all of those borrowed recipes and instead asked her to come up with her own.

                                                                                                                                                            But, to be fair, I've only cooked ONE of Fain's recipes: it was from the blog and it was a keeper. So, this will be one of the books I'm going to try to dive into. But I have the feeling I will move it along...

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                              I really like the Homesick book. I am not a fan of the blog. I'll try to get back to you as to recipes I've tried and loved, as I think there is a lot of valuable stuff in there for quick meals and easy comfort food.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                I've tried to be more judicious about the books I buy and keep. Some I'll buy sight unseen, but others I need to check out in a bookstore first. I've also started taking advantage of Amazon's 30 day return policy. If I buy a book and (a) don't sit down and read through it within those 30 days or (b) read through it, but have no desire to pick it up again or cook anything out of it, I just send it back. I figure that I save enough money with Amazon, I can occasionally cough up the return shipping fee.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Once I bought a cook book from a garage sale. We were in a hurry. The book had a nice picture on the front and it was cheap so I grabbed it. When I got it home and looked inside low and behold someone had taken a razor blade and cut out all the pages that presumably had recipes they wanted to keep. How about that approach before the great 'purge'? LOL

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                HA!

                                                                                                                                                                Well, the truth is, I'm pretty sure if I have to force myself to go through each book before I purge it in order to identify any recipes I want to copy before getting rid of the book, I will fall in love with the book all over again and won't be able to get rid of it. So, instead, I'm going to actually cook from it. If I find enough successful recipes to keep the book, then I'll keep it.

                                                                                                                                                                I really just need to be more thoughtful about my acquisitions...

                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  Does your printer have a scanner? You could always scan your favorites.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                    My dilemma too DQ. I reread my cooks and think I couldn't possibly get rid of 'this' one or that one or any of them.
                                                                                                                                                                    I do have a problem with cookbooks, always have always will.
                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know the follicle or mother of my interest, but it probably stems for homey things, watching gramma and grandpa cook, smells in a kitchen, a place in the house where as a child, I could eat my meal and watch my horse frolick in the back yard. Food represents family, talking and memories and I get those same cozy feelings from the cookbooks I read. Always thinking oh the family would so enjoy it if I made this or that. But the truth of the matter is it usually only offers reading and then page turning, without ever making the things that look so good. Still a dilemma I'm afraid.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I'd like to report some success in the purge process--just mailed a box with three cookbooks to a dear friend of mine--she expressed interest in the books in question and I am looking to keep my collection at a steady statev(it's not nearly as extensive as many here, only 125 or so). I am keeping to my "get rid of one for every one you bring into the house"strategy, so I've now made room for three new books. But I've also put myself on a Cookbook Moratorium--no new books until the March equinox. So now I have almost two months to think about any future purchases. This should allow me to get what I really think will fill in any gaps and research any candidate cookbooks, avoiding impulse purchases.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                                                    That's a much better system than mine. I live a mile away from Half Price Books and it's just too tempting sometimes... The books just make their way into my hands and I kick myself on the way home - knowing I have to ditch at least one book to make room. As time goes on the process becomes more Sophie's Choice with each new purchase. More than once I have read a cookbook, cooked a couple things from it and then placed it in my trade-in pile.

                                                                                                                                                                    I made a wholesale rout of Science Fiction and Nonfiction books, trading a few boxes of thoroughly read books for a couple art books as Christmas presents. Most 'real' books I don't have a problem with, especially as I will be transitioning to a tablet sometime in the near future. Cookbooks just have to be paper-based for me.

                                                                                                                                                                    I will think about your sane approach next time I am tempted by something like The Beloved Carrot - Tubers Unleashed!* Oh, the shame.

                                                                                                                                                                    *not a real book (as far as I know)

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I did a purge last year and donated 100 cookbooks to the local vo-tech culinary program for their library. They were glad to get them and I got the tax deduction.

                                                                                                                                                                    We are going to be moving in a couple of years and books weigh a lot as you all know. In my purge I asked myself, is this a book I would pay to move? Would I have room for it if we downsized?

                                                                                                                                                                    I am going to have to do it again and I already am making a mental list. Of course I have been acquiring some new books as usual.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Onlly you can answer your own questions, especially #1.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. just met a new girl at work.
                                                                                                                                                                        she's a seller on eBay.
                                                                                                                                                                        she said she'd tell me what I need to know about selling on the site.
                                                                                                                                                                        said it's easy once you get hang of it. also said she has paypal account it's even on her iphone as an icon. tells her the $$$'s added on any given day for any sale. pretty sweet. expressed I'd like to sell an over complete set of Reverve Ware and she said easy to sell as a set or individual pieces. kinda stuck there, not sure what to do. liked her idea of selling a box of hard back vs soft cover cookbooks and exposing just one prominent name of 'a' cookbook in there. and let the auctions begin. so they'd be buying the whole box without knowing it's contents except for 1. wonder if it'd fly. we'll see

                                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting idea about selling a box with only one title revealed. Went to check it out on Ebay and didn't find any listings like that. Did find two listing for boxes of books, one is all hardbounds and bidding doesn't close until the end of March, but only bid so far is $1.50. Also saw an old listing of boxed paperbacks that went for $1.99. Hardly seems worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                          If you don't want to bother, why not ask her if she'll sell your Revere Ware for you for a cut? A friend did that after cleaning out her mother's house and both she and the friend who sold them for her were pleased--my friend, not to have to bother with it and her friend to make a small profit with very little effort.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                            Joan I haven't checked nor done any research about the secret boxed item cookbooks but I liked the idea if it could work. $1.99 no not worth even thinking about it right. I've asked my daughter to sell the RW for me and she said she would but she's not very kitchen savvy and not sure how it'd do.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                              Not sure how it is in the US. But I found books don't sell on ebay at all. I've got better luck on Amazon marketplace. However, sometimes it doesn't allow you to list some titles. (There's one particular cookbook I want to get rid of but amazon won't let me list it). In the end I gave it away in a charity bag.

                                                                                                                                                                              I also list stuff on ebay, but not a 'seller' as such. (As in I'm not a trader. Buy low sell high type). I only sell what I don't want anymore. Some items are very easy to sell. Like baby stuff and old electronics.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                                                                oops--had written about our Amazon experience, forgetting I had already done so just a few posts down. Age does funny things to memory.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know anything about Revere Ware, per se, but it is a lot easier to sell things on Amazon Marketplace than on eBay. You don't have to take pictures. You don't have to deal with eBay's much more complicated selling template. The only thing is, your item has to match something Amazon is already selling.

                                                                                                                                                                            You also need to be prepared to ship things to people, which means either re-using boxes and bubble wrap and peanuts (or brown wrapping paper--much less messy) you already have, or investing in some.

                                                                                                                                                                            Here's what Amazon has from Revere Ware:

                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...

                                                                                                                                                                            Find my e-mail on my profile if you have any questions.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                              I completely agree, selling on Amazon is way easier. I've sold a ton of stuff that way, books, kitchen equipment, toys, etc. And at great prices too, if the stuff is in demand.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                Jay that's very interesting, and a great tip. If you don't need to take photos, how does Amazon deal w the issue of the condition of goods...is there a common language around categories (eg. good, fair, fine etc)?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                  Breadcrumbs, yes, that's exactly how it works. Plus, you get to type in a little bit of info if you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                  We've also had great success selling on Amazon, over 200 sales, with maybe 2-3 returns, which we rectified. We do reuse boxes, bubble envelopes, tissue paper, so the shipping costs are minimal. We've gotten great ratings from our buyers--and someimes find that we get a sale even tho' we're not the cheapest seller, mostly 'cause of good reviews (we always ship same day, and if it's a costly item, we'll upgrade to 1st class or priority mail, for free).

                                                                                                                                                                              2. TDQ, I'm hoping you see this post as I'm very interested to hear how you've made out with your purge.

                                                                                                                                                                                I read you were thinking of starting by boxing up books. Have you purged any as yet?

                                                                                                                                                                                If so, do you have any tips to share? Things that worked...or didn't?

                                                                                                                                                                                I have to do something about my "collection"...

                                                                                                                                                                                37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                  bc, I can't imagine how you keep all your books in order -- or even remember what you have! I know EYB helps, but your collection is so vast!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm fortunate that space hasn't been an issue for me so I've just added bookshelves as I've needed to. That said, I currently have about 50ish books that don't fit on my shelves. Normally I'd buy another book case but I had a bit of an epiphany this weekend and I've decided to break the pattern. I'll likely start a thread to share my experience but I remembered TDQ's thread and thought I'd check in here first.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you do start a new thread, BC, please gives us a heads up here. Inquiring minds will be very eager to hear what you've come up with. At least, mine certainly will.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't have a very large collection but I'm planning on doing a mini-purge myself. I've started to notice from my EYB searches that I basically am NEVER interested in recipes from certain books. Even though they are books that other hounds may value, they don't work for me and are cluttering up my shelves and searches! Joan -- I am planning on donating my excess books to Housing Works -- they have a nice little cookbook section at the Bookstore Cafe on Crosby Street.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I'd forgotten. Thanks for reminding me. Used to have an office in that neighborhood and Housing Works did indeed have nice cookbook section. It's a bit of a schlep for me, though, from the UWS--especially with a carton full of books.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, I still can't bring myself to give them away. I put a bunch of books in a fairly inaccessible cabinet more than a year ago thinking that if I didn't check the cabinet with any regularity I could give those books away. Of course, I check that cabinet all the time now. I'm beginning to think it will be easier to throw away novels and stop aggravating over which cookbooks to get rid of.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                              I did a big cookbook purge when I was leaving NYC and moving across the country, and gave the books to the Housing Works shop. That culling was easy, and I haven't regretted losing any of them, but now I really need to lose some of my also not-very-large collection (which has increased considerably since that move) - and I'm having a harder time than I ought to letting go. Hoping, like others, that I'll be inspired by these threads.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                I've purchase quite a few books from Housing Works via Amazon the last couple of years, always a great experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                Ok, I've started a new thread. Here's a link in case anyone wants to read about what I've come up with:

                                                                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9120...

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                Space isn't that much an issue for me either -- at least not yet -- but I feel it's difficult to keep track of what I do have. I've used a very small percentage of what I own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                  EYB can change that if you want it to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree with that Joan. I've added over 800 notes in EYB and I love that I can search within a certain book or books for recipes. About 50% of my collection that I'm able to enter into is indexed. When EYB first launched only 25% were indexed so it's definitely been beneficial to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                              HAHA! Funny you should ask. After I posted this thread, I packed up 6-7 boxes of books. I sold a few books at a garage sale 4 months later, but I literally have been driving around with a box of cookbooks in my trunk for several months with the intention of selling them to a local used book store, but never mustering up the courage to actually go do it. Something always "comes up." Granted, I am really overwhelmed with life right now. But still...

                                                                                                                                                                                              I was just sitting here making a list of all of the things I need to do tomorrow and wondering if I would be able to make a trip to the used books store. (My plan is to take just one box in and see how it goes before I take them all in.) Honestly, I don't think I'm going to have time. Maybe I'm just not ready. But they will be gone before winter. I can't be cooped up with all of those books all winter long!

                                                                                                                                                                                              In the period of time since I've boxed up the books, I've reclaimed a few, but except for some Weight Watchers books (more on that below), I haven't missed most of them. I'm relieved to have them gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The garage sale was an interesting experience because I put ALL of the boxed-up books out for sale (including the ones I've since reclaimed). As potential customers perused them, I realized I really did know which books I wanted to keep and which I didn't based on how panicked I felt whenever someone picked up a book. When I had the urge to rip a book out of someone's hands, well, I resisted that urge, but immediately rescued the book (and put it back in the house!) the minute they put it down.

                                                                                                                                                                                              There has to be a better way of having that lightning bolt of understanding without having a garage sale, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I tried to hang onto books I think I'd still want to cook from in 10 years. Anything remotely trendy that I don't have time for "right now" went in the sell box. Meatballs? Gone. Make your own soda? Gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If it's a classic that I'll never cook from, it went in the box, unless it's one I use for reference. (Referring to a book is "using it".) I decided I don't have the time or space to keep a book just because I feel I "should" have it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              So, I got rid of Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol II, but kept Kennedy's Oaxaca. I'll probably never cook from either. I probably will never even refer to MTAFC vol II (but think I would be able to get ahold of a copy if I needed to), but I will probably occasionally look through Oaxaca and may never find a copy of this book anywhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                              So, I've decided not to get rid of anything I'm on the fence about that would be impossible to buy back if I changed my mind. There's just a handful of those kinds of books.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Also, I recently started weight watchers again. It gave me immediately clarity about which WW books I should be keeping (ones with lots of recipes from the plan that really worked for me that WW has sort of phased out) and which I should get rid of. So, I rescued a half dozen books from the sell box, and put another dozen or so in the sell box.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I think the strategy of waiting a few months after packing the books up (recommended by many people in this thread) even though it wasn't entirely planned, has been a good one.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Now, the good news. I have lots of space on my shelves. LOTS OF SPACE. I'm going to need to consolidate my books so they aren't all falling over.

                                                                                                                                                                                              It feels GREAT. Amazingly liberating and freeing. And I'm so glad I've (almost) done the purge. I imagine that I will rescue a few more books from the pile before this whole thing is over, but that's okay.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I am a lot more judicious about my cookbook buying these days. And I've become a pepperplate addict instead of a cookbook addict...

                                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                P.S. to answer my own questions in the OP:

                                                                                                                                                                                                Melissa Clark, keep. I like everything I've cooked from these books. It's how I cook these days. They are thin little books. I suspect I'll get rid of in 10 years because they'll seem dated, but for now, I'm getting use out of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Plenty (what was I thinking???) KEEP. A collection of stelllar, unique recipes. I think this book is more the sum of its parts and will stand the test of time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Homesick Texan, sell. Didn't love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Ina Garten, sell. Her recipes really do work, but she just keeps tweaking and recycling and repackaging them. I will always be able to find these online and there's no magic to the way they are assembled into a "collection" in my mind. Plus, I don't really eat this way most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, one thing I personally tried to keep in mind (which may not work for everyone) is that I'm not curating a cookbook library. I'm trying to maintain a collection of books I really love and use. I want to have a love affair with every book I have on my shelf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do, but what if I am very promiscuous with cookbooks?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you were truly so, you'd discard them when your interest waned and would never look back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Haha. I like almost all of my books and couldn't decide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My old moosewood cookbooks can *definitely* go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I got rid of mine years ago and have never regretted it (except for one i kept for sentimental value but i should get rid of that one too -- i literally NEVER use it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are some recipes in these books that I still make - mushroom barley soup and blintz soufflé come to mind but there are more. Possibly could put those recipes in Pepperplate and get rid of books.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's funny that you said this. I've realized in the last few weeks is that I am VERY FICKLE with my cookbooks. I fall in love with a cookbook, cook the heck out of it, then come across a new one and promptly forget about the old. The only books that I regularly re-visit are the Dunlop ones and that's because I mostly cook chinese at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Right now, I am still enamored with Burma but am feeling a strong pull towards Smoke and Pickles. Tomorrow will be a combo S&P dish (hello lamb chops!) with a Burma vegetable (that one where you blanch the greens and then add shallot oil). I fear after the lambchops, Burma will get tossed to the side with previous exes (Flex Table, Melissa Clark books, Zuni, Lucques and countless others) and S&P will be my new love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's amazing that as fickle and commitment phobic as I am, C and I have been together for over 20 years!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Apparently my heart is more true than that of some of you (I kid, of course). I feel like once a book is one I love, I want to keep cooking from it - although sometimes I need to be reminded. Being oven and stove-less has helped. Tonight is Melissa Clark's pan bagnat (which Lulu is currently sitting on to weigh it down), and I'm looking at it as a silver lining of the whole oven situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not that I don't want to keep cooking from it, more that I forget about all the great recipes from it. That's why I love when old COTM threads pop up. It gives me a gentle reminder of old lost loves and I may give them a call if I remember certain recipes from that book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely - I love it when someone posts on an old COTM thread or "cooking from" thread. Sometimes I find myself totally lost in the thread, reading every single post and being reminded of great meals. And it reminds me to pull that book back out. Somehow today I got onto the Diana Henry thread and I was suddenly wanting that pasta with squid ink and squid or shrimp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Diana Henry (and John Gregory-Smith) are my best finds from this board. I'm the same with the old threads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I love them both too. Those books are staying right where they are. But I really have been inspired to start weeding. I'll start with some obvious cookbooks and a lot of the other reading I've done and kept. There is a ton of it here that doesn't need to be here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You've made me sort of excited about the idea of purging, all the sudden. I think it was when you said Homesick Texan goes, Melissa Clark stays. I feel exactly the same way, and somehow reading it put that way made me think "yeah, I can get rid of some of these."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                            TDQ, thanks so much for your thoughtful, helpful response. Your comment:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            >> I'm not curating a cookbook library. I'm trying to maintain a collection of books I really love and use<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                            really resonates with me and in part, is what brought me back to this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm definitely encouraged by your enthusiasm and, the tremendous sense of satisfaction and pride you must have derived from knowing you have >> LOTS OF SPACE << on your shelves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm about to embark on my own purge. I'll post a thread so I can document my journey as you have. First I need to find a way to succinctly articulate what lead to my epiphany and what I plan to do about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the inspiration TDQ!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for wonderful, inspiring post TDQ!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This year I am thinking a lot about purging my book collection. Not just cookbooks but other books as well. I've decided against buying another bookcase though I've figured out how to squeeze it into my small apartment. And I am tired of looking at many double stacked shelves. The books that I do not want to cook from and immediately ignore recipes when they pop up on EYB search - Silver Palate, How to Cook Everything, etc. - should be easy but even this has not happened yet (sigh). Selling them will make me feel better than giving them away. I gave away Clark because her cooking style is not appealing to me and have not bought Homesick Texan because I didn't like it to begin with. But I bought many other cookbooks that I am cooking from for one reason or another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would be following BC's thread once she posts it with great interest and hope that with your collective help my library will look smaller and be better functioning by the end of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is kind of funny that for once we're excited about getting rid of books instead of acquiring them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HA! Funny. Maybe we should start a thread:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What cookbooks have you discarded lately, or are you falling out love with? August 2013 edition

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We could also discuss which one we want to get rid of and ask fellow hound for opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Send an email to the book "sorry, this just isn't working for me anymore."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have YOU Divorced A Cookbook Today?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Just need to make sure it doesn't write a song about our breakup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was chuckling over the idea of sending a Dear John letter to a cookbook, but then I realized that not half an hour ago I hugged my copy of Plenty just because it's so awesome and I love it so so much. LOL