How do you organize your cookbooks?
  • I have a huge collection but can't seem to organize my cookbooks and always seem to spend too much time looking for certain titles. So many cookbooks don't seem to fall into easy categories. Ethnic cookbooks are easily grouped but I can't figure out what to do with the rest! Help!
  • Hi Lisa,
    I am now using a number of web based databases to help me get the most out of my cookbooks, this site being one of them.
    Librarything was the first site we found for cataloging our book collection and it remains my husbands favorite. In its database you can add tags. When I need to box up books to make room I number the box and put the box number as a tag. You could use shelves, bookshelves, or rooms etc. Then just search for the title and it will tell you where it is.
    I have found another cataloging site that looks pretty good called guruLib. I haven't entered any books, I was looking at it to create a dvd database.
    I also use EatYourBooks and I think that when you add a book you can enter 'location.'
    I am finding that using sites such as these I am exploring and enjoying my book collection a lot more.
  • I put up a couple of shelves on the wall in my kitchen and place there the cookbooks I use the most. The rest are grouped generally by type on other bookcases.
    I also use an online site called GoodReads to organize, tag and shelve my cookbooks. I also get most of my recommendations for other books there too. These sites are very helpful and I hope Andrew incorporates some of the tagging or shelving features here too.
  • I'm similar to @Leeka, with my physical organization - I have a small shelf in the kitchen with the greatest hits on it, and a nearby bookshelf where the books are more or less random.

    I like @Ivautier's idea of putting box numbers in a tag - very clever! I've been planning to incorporate tags into the site, and I'll put them high on the priority list. I'm also currently trying to finish a script that will allow people to import their bookshelves from GoodReads, Shelfari and LibraryThing - the hard part is figuring out which books are cookbooks and only selecting them. I'll be asking for beta testers soon to help me test this out.

    @Leeka - what sort of 'shelving' tools would be useful? Would it be helpful for people to create custom shelves within their bookshelf?
  • I have a small bookshelf in my kitchen with 3 shelves. The top shelf contains cookbooks I use most often (Bittman, Cooks Illustrated, Foster) plus new cookbooks that I am cooking a lot out of right now. This way, when I'm looking for a recipe or inspiration, I can quickly grab a book off the top shelf.

    The second shelf contains favorite cookbooks organized first by ethnicity (Asian, Mexican, Italian, French, regional American, etc.); then by type of dish (breakfasts, breads, ice cream, slow cooker, etc.).

    The third shelf contains books I use for reference rather than recipes.

    When my shelves get full, I choose books to retire because they're falling apart or I hardly cook out of them anymore and move them to my dining room sideboard where they're a little less accessible or give them away.

    I also use LibraryThing to catalog and tag all my books, including cookbooks.
  • Thanks for your input, everyone. I will look into trying some of these ideas. I would love to be able to list a location for my books on this site. Right now my goal is just to get all my titles on this site at least. I just LOVE Cookbooker, by the way!
  • I forgot to add that LibraryThing allows you to organize your books into collections. I use this feature to keep track of where books are located.
  • I have two large bookcases in the bedroom, for the favorites, organized by region or speciality, ie baking, with everything that doesn't quite fit going into a general area.
    All the other books are in boxes in the back room, but unsorted, so it's not a good system. LibraryThing sounds wonderful, so I might be looking into that along with Lisa.
  • Andrew, sorry I didn't see your comment until now. I'm in the middle of moving.
    I would LOVE to be able to create custom bookshelves within my shelf here instead of having all my cookbooks lumped together. Sorry I don't know the technical aspects but I guess it would also be related to tagging. I would like to also be able to sort recipes by the tags you already have in place. For example, it would be great to have the ability to look up and compare my reviews of all the cake recipes from different books.
  • LibraryThing is indeed good, but it's no help with actually finding the books when you want them.

    I have a smallish bookcase just outside the kitchen where I keep the books I use most often - buggered if I know why I didn't get some shelves built in to the kitchen when we renovated 25 years ago. I keep my little PWMU Cookbook in the cookbook stand on the kitchen table, along with a plastic sleeve of print-out recipes.

    The other books are stored, especially the larger volumes, in more or less alphabetical order in a bookcase in the family room that also contains the reference books. As it happens a lot of these books qualify as reference books - McGee, Larousse, The Oxford Companion to Food.

    Of course there are all the rest of the books which are stacked up in various places. At the moment we're trying to find a home for all my dear little Reaktion books, which aren't really cookbooks as such.

    And despite what you might think, having a husband trained as a librarian really doesn't help.
  • I am generally a book person so there are books all over my house and in no rational order. Over the years, I seem to have developed a facility for remembering the approximate location (right room, right bookcase) of my books, and that extends to the five bookshelves that hold my cookbooks. Four of the five are on the first floor, and one of those is in my kitchen. The fifth is in the basement and holds cookbooks I rarely use but am reluctant to part with (including some of purely historical interest).
  • Almost all of my cookbooks are arranged by size on my kitchen counter. The ones that don't fit and are not used as often are on the bookshelf in my living room on the shelf with home improvement type books. Ideally, I would like to downsize the actual number of books on my shelves because there's some books that I only use a few recipes. I purchased the Living Cookbook software and plan to enter those recipes and scan the pictures into the database and put the cookbook up on my Bookmooch page. Aaah, who am I kidding, it's hard to let go of books...I'll probably end up entering and getting rid of those little recipe magazines that are so hard not to buy in the supermarket checkout line. If I got rid of those I would have just enough space for all of my cookbooks.
  • I'm lucky that my kitchen is big enough and of the right shape so that I can happily fit a full sized bookshelf in it, which holds almost all of my cookbooks. The size of the book dictates a lot - the really small ones go on the top shelf, the heavy tomes or books I don't use very often on the bottom shelf. Everything else is arranged according to how often I use them - my "can't live without them" books getting pride of place on the second shelf, at perfect eye level :)
  • I have catalogued all my 300 cookbooks in to a database I created using Microsoft Access.This has -

    The hardest part was physically entering each book in to the database as I am only a 2 finger typist.

  • Wow! You guys are all seriously organized - I am impressed.

    I keep my ~50 cookbooks on a shelf over my oven. Its a deep shelf, and half my cookbooks have to be in the back. Every once in a while, I rotate them by moving the ones in the back to the front. I do this to encourage myself to use more of them. This isn't always successful - but I'm hoping cookbooker will help be find the hidden gems.
  • @Silkhat: if you'd like to import all 300 books into Cookbooker, let me know. You can send us the Access Database and we'll convert it for you. We can even import the location as a tag for you.
  • Well, I am thrilled as the other half has finally made me a double bed which is basically a large box with bedhead, and slats on top to keep air circulated under the matress. He made it out of nearly all recycled wood scrounged from the council hard rubbish drives, and it is wonderful to sleep on. Most important 'tho, we could take all my cookbooks that were in boxes down the back of the house and put them in the bed storage, freeing up a lot of space. Must admit, it is rather fun sliding off the bed in the morning, but my mother had to use a couple of phone directories to climb up into it when she stayed. (We don't have a spare room, so guests get my room, and I sleep wherever). AND, I could finally get rid of my brass bed that was pretty, but impossible to read in.
  • I put mine in alpha order on an eye level shelve(s) as I entered them here in Cookbooker.
  • I'm so jealous of you guys with your organising problems. My less than 30 cookbooks sit on my kitchen counter. It doesn't really matter what order they are in. So sad!
  • Jayme, don't be jealous. Think twice before you buy cookbooks- they are very, very difficult to part with when you have too many. I have hundreds- but you only really use a few per year- the rest I used at other stages of life. I often forget where I saw a recipe I would like to try and now that I am an empty nester, I tend to use no recipes at all most of the time-mashed potatoes don't need a recipe! I have book cases all over my house, and if my husband and I ever want to move again- do you know how many boxes I will fill in just books alone? So many recipes are easily accessible on the internet now. There is a lot to be said for having less stuff- and that includes cookbooks!
  • I rather like the way libraries organize their cookbooks.

    I can go on line, look at a large collection, and place a hold on any of them. Then, those wonderful librarians put the book on a special shelf, and email me to say its ready. When I'm done, I can just drop it off on their return counter, and as if by magic, it goes to the correct place on the shelf (how I wish that happened at home)!. I am trying to satisfy my desire for many new cookbooks using those purchased by the library, and make sure my personal collection has mostly just those that are most useful to me.

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