How do our Cookbook Collections Stack Up?

In the August/September issue of Garden & Gun Magazine, Rick Ellis and his magnificent collection of Southern cookbooks were featured in an article by Monte Burke. Bookcases which brought an envious tear to my eye housed 5,000 cookbooks. Jessica B. Harris, a prominent culinary historian and author, stated that to her knowledge, “there is no private collection of Southern cookbooks in the world that has the breadth and depth and importance of Rick’s.”

Many members of The Cookbook Junkies love to share “shelvies” – photos of their collections. I liken it to looking at houses online – you might not be moving but you still like to look. At the moment, I am in a cookbook library holding pattern. Most of my collection is packed ready for a move which I hope happens in the next two months because “nobody keeps Jenny’s cookbooks in a bin.” 

Today, I’m sharing a few of my friends and members cookbook collections so we can all be envious together. I will have other articles in the future sharing more libraries and if you would like to be included – send an email with a photograph of your collection and a line or two about your favorites to jenny at eatyourbooks dot com. I will also be reaching out to some of our favorite cookbook authors to interview them about their collections. 


The above collection is from my friend, Marc, who is a culinary school graduate, cookbook lover and extraordinary cook. Although, he doesn’t cook for a living, he has taken cooking classes all over the world and I hate him with the white hot intensity of a hundred burning suns (okay, that is extreme – maybe fifty). Marc is a great guy and his husband, David, tolerates Marc’s collection (not so quietly) because he never has to have casseroles for dinner. Marc and I have very similar tastes when it comes to cookbooks and so far we both have been spot on recommending titles to each other. 

When I reached out for a quote about his collection, Marc shared, “My favorite cookbooks are the regional cookbooks I’ve picked up during my travels; mostly in Italy and Asia. My favorite cookbook remains Locatelli’s Made in Italy. Out of shelves full of Italian books, it’s the one I use most.” For Locatelli fans, the author has a new book out Made at Home.


Above is a portion of Jean’s collection. Jean and I, too, have similar tastes when it comes to cookbooks. She is an avid lover of books from the UK (as am I) and she also is a cookware and dishware hoarder (again much like myself). Jean shared a bit about how her love of British titles began, “Well over a decade ago I joined a message board of Nigella fans. I am now in a Facebook group with many of those same members. My UK collection began with Nigella and grew exponentially based on their recommendations and enthusiasms. I am particularly fond of Mary Berry, Dan Lepard, Diana Henry, Nigel Slater, Ottolenghi, Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra and Felicity Cloake.” 

Diana Henry has another title coming out in the Spring of 2018, How to Eat a Peach which will share her menus that she has been saving since the age of sixteen. Planning a menu is still her favourite part of cooking. The menus in this book reflect places Diana loves, and dishes that are real favourites. Jean, have you preordered?


This collection is from another friend, Mallory. While I think it is beautiful – it is not for me. I love the unperfect beauty of a random placement of book spines. Mallory is working on a cookbook podcast which I hope to have more information on soon.

Our friend, Kate McDermott, author of The Art of Pie, has the same system of color coding her books. She states that is how her mind works. Kate recently shared news on her blog about her second book, “I have embarked on the journey for a second book. I ask for your encouragement, prayers, good wishes, and positive thoughts. This book is about the life of a home cook, baker, and homemaker, both as a full-nester and an empty-nester. It will be about wearing an apron and the stories that are the strings that attach it. There will be simple recipes, easy to find ingredients, quick to make meals with not too many steps, and it will be seasoned with lots and lots of love. “


Darcie’s (yes, our Darcie) collection is photographed to the right. Darcie has a soft spot for baking cookbooks and is a star cocktail maker. 

Darcie shares, “Most of my cookbooks fit here, but I have no room to grow without getting more shelves (oh, darn). My Cook’s Illustrated 1993-2013 and Cook’s Country 2005-2013 are in another location, plus a few are pulled out for current reading. Left shelves are baking/cocktails; top center are technique & science; the rest are pretty much alpha by author.” 


To the left is a photo of one bookcase that I won’t pack up until the very last moment. Currently, I have around 3,000 plus cookbooks and I am counting the moments to having my own cookbook library instead of having books scattered throughout the house. Recently, I underwent the great purge of 2017 and while loads of books went out more are coming in.

My favorites of late are technique driven titles, adventure cookbooks that help me to discover another country’s cuisine and customs and restaurant cookbooks – because we just never seem to be able to get to any – restaurants that is. The Modernist Cuisine books are on my wish list and one day I will own them. 

Bravetart, Orange Appeal, and Baker’s Royale are other books that I am excited about right now that I will be preparing promotions for soon. The Iraqi Table is a current obsession – absolutely gorgeous book.  

Sweet arrived this morning and I am crushing on it like a tween at a Taylor Swift concert (is that still a relevant analogy?) There are times when you await a highly anticipated cookbook and when you receive it you think – I spent six months waiting for this? Well, in Sweet‘s case – it was worth every second of waiting. I’m working on a promo for this masterpiece from the rock star chef.  

Last, but not certainly not least, Jane Kelly, the co-founder of Eat Your Books shares her photograph which encompasses about 30% of her collection. She states, “My favorites are mainly British (or at least UK based) authors that I have been cooking from for years and I own every book they have written – Ottolenghi, Nigella, Jamie, Nigel Slater, and Diana Henry. Other favorites are Melissa Clark and Dorie Greenspan.”

I did a bit of research and found some links to some of our favorite author’s collections that you might enjoy.

If you have any links of celebrity collections, please share them in the comments and I will update this post.

Post a comment


  • ericg  on  September 6, 2017

    This post is awesome!!!

  • lgroom  on  September 6, 2017

    Oh my gosh!!

  • vickster  on  September 7, 2017

    Loved this post Jenny! It makes me feel like a small-time cookbook hoarder, although I have 1 1/2 large shelves filled. I couldn't work with the color-organized shelving but prefer the haphazard look. Will send you a photo of my shelves.

  • HAdams  on  September 8, 2017

    Love this post too – makes me feel a little less insane. Glad to be among people who also enjoy amazing rows of cookbooks. When we have houseguests, I hear "why do you have so many cookbooks," but then I find 90% of them browsing through them :).

  • MarciK  on  May 26, 2019

    I love these collections, and they make me feel better about my 100+ cookbooks. My favorites to collect are vintage cookbooks and my ethnic cookbooks, as well as cookbooks from places I’ve visited. People laugh at me when they here I’ve bought another cookbook, but they bring me joy. Having so many, I don’t feel an obligation to cook from them, but even just looking at the recipes give me pleasure, a calorie free activity.

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