Today I have spent some time “putting up” my cookbook collection. Somehow, my lonely little shelf of bridal books has grown to fill more than twenty linear feet of bookshelves (yep, I just measured). That’s a lot of recipes!
I never thought much about this “collection” until last spring when I wandered into Bonnie Slotnik Cookbooks in Greenwich Village, New York City. I stepped into her cozy little shop filled to the brim with cookbooks and retro decorative cooking gear, and I felt like I had come home. Bonnie was scrunched into her corner desk chatting with a friend who had stopped by and they both stopped to welcome me.
I was speechless as I looked around, but her response to my first question really made me stop and think.
“I have a problem,” I confessed. “I have too many cookbooks.”
The women looked at each other, then at me, “Why is that a problem?”
And here I had been feeling pressured to down-size and whittle down my books. What freedom! It was the “Ah-ha” moment when the world shifts. Suddenly, I went from being the Owner of Too Many Cookbooks to rebirth as a Cookbook Collector. It was fabulous.
Shifting gears to my new identify wasn’t hard at all. Bonnie queried me as to my interests – preserving, community cookbooks, Jello recipes, holidays – and helped me find a few new volumes to add to my Collection. As I browsed her shelves admiring the books and whimsical 60’s timers and gadgets, she told me that the set designers had come to her for props for the new film Julie and Julia. She was excited that she was able to purchase many of the set props when the filming was complete, hence the generous selection and great window display.
I also noticed that her books were all carefully protected by clear book jackets, and made a note to put that task on my To Do List. When I came home, I ordered a package of assorted sized book jackets from Brodart Archival Supplies. The clear covers are easy to put on the books and provide support as well as protection for the paper dust jacket.
My plans don’t include covering every book in my collection, but I am trying to preserve copies that are sentimental favorites or that have increased in value. No, I don’t have Julia Child’s first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I do have my mother-in-law’s gift to me at my bridal shower, Woman’s Glory, The Kitchen. If that’s not a keeper, I don’t know what is.