On My Bookshelf

Every favorite food blogger of mine has dedicated at least one post to books. And I figured now that they have good reason to. Books are an integral part of my day, always have been.This post is more a how-to rather than a gushing tribute (although, I wont lie, I do gush at certain intervals) – if you’d like to start your own collection of cookbooks then this answers the burning questions – which ones to start with, where to get them from, book clubs, how often they can be used, maintaining them etc.
Why do I collect cookbooks?
I collect them because its 200 pages plus more of my most favorite thing in the entire world. I love them. I was reading The Happiness Project and the author states that its very important to have a collection of something – it can be anything. This statement had me in a turmoil for days – what should I collect that I will absolutely stay committed to? Then it struck me, that I already had a budding collection – cookbooks! Although, in all honestly, that isn’t the sole reason – I collect them because I need them. I feel like I can never have enough and more importantly I enjoy reading them.
Is it vital to collect cook books?
I hear you. There are some people who aren’t drawn to reading. I get that. So no, it isn’t absolutely crucial that if you enjoy cooking you must enjoy reading in equal proportions. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of options for the non-bookworms like blogs, youtube videos, how-to posts on websites etc. Like everything, it has its pros and cons and blogs trump books in one aspect – live interaction. I’ve made many virtual friends like this. Plus, if in doubt you can always send the blog author a tweet, go through the comments to see if your query has been addressed or send a comment yourself. Nothing beats live interaction. Blogs are lively – colorful pictures and a personalized account of the recipe. You can survive on blogs and online tutorials. But I hear that if you love something, you do enjoy making exceptions for it – like reading a cookbook perhaps?
Give it to me in terms I can understand – how much does it cost?!
Okay, it is an expensive hobby. I can just about afford buying a cookbook once a month. Some cookbooks are moderately priced at 700 rs and some go up to 2000 rs. However, it strongly depends on your need sometimes – for example, Purplefoodiegave me the best advice – she said to start off with cookbook collecting, the best one to start with is Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours. That’s a basic book and a must-have for every budding and veteran baker – it has copious notes, helpful hints and a very detailed guide if you’re starting out. I must confess though that I have shamelessly spread the word among my family and friends to donate to my cookbook cause. So now, they are never in a fix if they buy me a Christmas present or a birthday present – they just ask me for the title and its done. I also set aside some money to attempt and buy a cookbook every month. It helps me save and stay committed.
And where do I find these babies?
Flipkart! Oh, how I love this website. If they released a list of people who spent maximum time stalking cookbooks, I’d definitely be in the top 5. The website is easy to navigate, safe and the best part is they have a growing collection of books (now a few other things too). So easy! I wish they’d add a ‘Look Inside’ feature though – like Amazon. I like to take a sneak peek through the book before I buy it and I almost always look up the title on Amazon, look inside and then buy it on Flipkart. Flipkart also lets you keep a wishlist of your titles – how convenient! You can just email the link or tweet so everyone knows!
Okay, give me names!
I’d recommend Dorie Greenspan’s book to everyone! If your interest is largely tilted towards cooking more than baking then order Around My French Table. I haven’t yet ordered that but I hear it’s a gem too. I also can’t get enough of Bakewise – its my bible! It has all the answers. But, I do spend a lot of time (and proudly so) going through Nigella Lawson’s books – I have them all! Her recipes are neatly divided into indulgent, speedy, solitary treats etc. I adore her writing style – a must for me in cookbooks. You know the bulky notes at the top of the recipe? Yea, I don’t skip that and Nigella’s notes are indispensible to me. To a budding collector, I’d recommend Kitchen or How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Most of her recipes are available on her website too. The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is also one of my favorites. It was a present and I’ve made countless recipes from that! I also have the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. It helps if, on any of your trips around the world, if you visit these bakeries. It just adds to your conviction of buying the books! It’s a good idea for a collection – books from the bakeries you’ve visited around the world? The Flavor Thesaurus is also another must have – it’s like a dictionary for flavors. I always keep it within arms reach – if inspiration strikes, I want to absolutely sure of my flavor palate. Donna Hay and Rachel Khoo’s books are now on to buy list
How do you maintain an ever growing collection?
Bookshelves obviously. But there isn’t a corner in my house which isn’t crammed with books. I use whatever space I can to store them – lofts, cupboards etc. Off late, some of non-cookbooks are stored under my bed while the cookbooks occupy space on my shelf. I try not to take them into the kitchen with me and if I do then I keep them away from the flame, stacked over some biscuit tins. I would love a floor to ceiling bookshelf where I could proudly display all my books but that would be a luxury in this city *sigh*.
How often do you cook from them?
I like to cook from them very often but I also use them for inspiration – if I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner or plan a menu for a party. So in that sense, I use them quite often. 
Hardback or paperback?
In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter. From a collector’s point of view, it may but it doesn’t make a difference with efficiency

Any bookclub that you’ve been swapping stories with?
Bookshelf – Part 1 of 4
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