What to do when a fondness for cookbooks approaches addiction status


The Kitchn has an article that may strongly resound with our members – 6 Ways to Manage Your Cookbook Addiction. Their description of what defines a cookbook addict may strike a chord with some of our members: “Perhaps it’s because while you have more cookbooks then you will ever be able to cook recipes from, you cannot stop yourself from adding to your collection. Or maybe there are teetering piles of cookbooks all over your house, surrounding the bed, on a little stool near the bathtub, stacked up next to the couch. It is almost impossible for you to not buy the latest release by a favorite author, even if there’s not much new going on there and you can never, never walk past the cookbook section in the bookstore without stopping and losing half a day in the stacks. These are all signs that you may have a situation on your hands.”

Of couse, unlike serious addictions (drugs, gambling, etc.) this addiction is one that isn’t really unhealthy – as long as it’s not financially draining or forces you to sleep in the garage due to space concerns. In fact, to us the word “addict” really doesn’t work. The word ignores the fact there are many benefits to cookbook ownership – not least that home-cooked meals are now acknowledged as a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. And cookbooks are not just to cook from – they can provide hours of reading enjoyment. But this article does have some good advice on how to approach a fondness for cookbooks rationally.

First, though, if you’re a member of EYB you’ve already taken the most important step – making sure you can access all those recipes so you actually use the books. In fact, an EYB membership is the best way to approach two of the suggestions listed in this article – explore your archives and weed out any books that just don’t work anymore. 

So what are the other suggestions? Fuller explanations are in the article, but three interesting ones are: 

  • Use the library
  • Avoid Amazon
  • Start a cookbook club with your friends

And what about buying new cookbooks? The article goes on to give advice on how to choose new cookbooks wisely. There are several good approaches here as well, we especially liked the one that reads: “Rule of thumb: If you casually pick up a cookbook to browse but find you’re still reading it 10 minutes later, then you may just want to bring this one home with you.”

Feel free to contribute any ideas you have. And we want to thank those members who added comments to the the Kitchn article strongly endorsing an EYB membership as an invaluable resource to help with many, if not all, of these suggestions.

Photo courtesy of the Kitchn


Post a comment


  • geoff@kupesoftware.com  on  May 14, 2013

    Oh my – where to start. Cookbooks in every room of the house, Stacks by the bed, by every sofa, on the kitchen counters. Every time I watch Hoarders I wonder how close I'm getting. I tried thinning them out a few years ago but every once in a while I miss one of the books I let go because it has a recipe I need in it. Needless to say, not too many left the premises. I'm hopeless


  • sir_ken_g  on  May 14, 2013

    …get more book shelves

  • goecke  on  May 15, 2013

    Buy Kindle versions. I have converted most of my collection to that format amid love it. I only buy new cookbooks if they are available in the Kindle format. No more print for me.

  • rlmiller  on  May 16, 2013

    A corollary to the if you casually pick a cookbook up to browse and are still reading it 10 minutes later – if you have checked the same cookbook out from the library three or more times, it might be time to consider buying a copy.

  • ebethnp  on  May 17, 2013

    My mom has this issue and we instituted a rule that for every new cookbook she buys, she must give away 3. This has let to less purchasing and better evaluation of the cookbooks that she has and truly loves versus the ones that are just taking up space.

  • robm  on  May 18, 2013

    I'm definitely in this category. But I am trying to get things under control. Amazon is certainly a temptation, and so easy to use, but I've learned to use the "wish list" button rather than the "purchase" one! If you wait a while, the book is usually likely to be cheaper, and you can also let your initial enthusiasm cool a bit. After a few weeks when you check your list you may wonder why you put the book on it and just delete it!

    The existing books are taking over my apartment again, though. My solution has been to donate boxes (and boxes) of the ones I'm a bit less in love with to the library of the culinary program at the local junior college. The program here is one of the largest in the country and the junior college is only five minutes away, so I can do a good deed by stocking up their library and I can always go visit "my" books over at the library pretty much whenever I need to. Better that they should keep and dust them than me! I also had a small burst of genius and made sure to create a bookmark labeled "Jr. College Library" and listed all the books I was giving them as I was boxing them. Now when I search for recipes or books I know whether I have the book at home or if it's at the college.

    I highly recommend this if there's a college or culinary academy in your area that will accept donations for their library (as long as they will let you can use them at the library, too). At the college here there's a large, non-circulating reference library so many of the books have to be consulted there. But duplicate copies seem to go into the college library's general circulating collection and can be checked out by anyone who lives in the county. How convenient is that? And, of course, you can take a charitable tax deduction (at least in the U.S.) for your donations, if you itemize deductions. It's a win all around!

  • bookpoet  on  May 21, 2013

    What do you mean by a "cookbook section" of a bookstore? Book stores sell things other than cookbooks?

    Well live & learn!

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!