Our Groaning Cookbook Shelves

Ward and I have run into a major dilemma: we’ve run out of room in our cookbook bookcase.

A few months ago, Ward confiscated shelf space in another bookcase for all the new cookbook additions he received at Christmas. But frankly, there isn’t any more spare shelf space anywhere. So no more shelf space for him to confiscate.

What this really means is, no more shelf space, period. For any kind of book.

We’ve resorted to squeezing books into any reasonably sized gaps we can find. It works, although it does make for somewhat messy looking shelves.

Unfortunately, most cookbooks tend to be on the large size.

Take Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima.


Nigellissima is a beautiful book. It is also quite a large book. So large, we haven’t been able to find a gap the right size anywhere on our shelves.

So Nigellissima has been semi-permanently residing on our coffee table. (As a matter of fact, all manner of books have taken up semi-permanent residence on our coffee table, and honestly, there’s not much room for anything else, like coffee cups.)

The good news? I’ve discovered a very temporary solution to our cookbook problem.

The Library

When Candace posted her review of D’Lish Deviled Eggs, by Kathy Casey, I decided to check the Toronto Public Library to see if I could borrow a copy. Turned out I could, and so I did.

Deviled eggs

And I’m very glad I did. In addition to delicious recipes, it turns out this book, while available in hardcover, is small, in terms of its physical dimensions!

Which means it’s on my to-buy list, the next time I engage in a book buying spree. Which we all know I shouldn’t be doing, given the lack of bookshelf space here. But I think we all also know I’m not going to let a thing like lack of space stop me, right?

Ebook Versions

I’ve gotten used to viewing recipes electronically, since we subscribe to a few cooking magazines through Zinio. They look great on Zinio’s iPad app, and the iPad sits nicely on the cookbook stand in the kitchen so no problems there.

So why not ebook versions of cookbooks, I thought?

Well, actually, I didn’t go through this particular thought process. What really happened was this: I was cruising Amazon online, looking for cookbooks to buy Ward for his birthday earlier this month. And I came across Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi.


And as luck would have it, the Kindle version was on sale. I think it was $2.99, although it might have been $3.99.  (Unfortunately, it’s no longer on sale – I just checked, and it’s now $9.80. Still a good deal, though.)

So I decided to get it, sort of as a test case for ebook cookbooks.  And I’m very glad I did. The book reads beautifully on my iPad Kindle app, and the bonus? The recipes in the Table of Contents are hyperlinked to the recipes in the book, so it just takes a tap of your finger and you’re on the right page.

While nothing really beats a print copy of a  beautiful full-colour cookbook, ebook versions do work just as well for the purposes of cooking. With our lack of shelf space, I think this will be an ideal temporary solution.

But in the meantime, I’ve been scoping out various spots around the condo where we might be able to squeeze in another bookcase or two …

I’m participating in Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads with this post. For more delicious food-related posts, hop on over to check out many more wonderful foodie reads!

14 thoughts on “Our Groaning Cookbook Shelves

  1. Charlie

    Are the books on the coffee table being consulted more often than the others for meals, per chance? Getting books from the library sounds a great idea, though I’d be worried about using an ereader whilst cooking!

  2. heidenkind

    My cookbook collection is so small! I get almost all of my cookbooks from the library because they’re so expensive. If I really like one I’ll buy the paperback version.

  3. Vera Marie Badertscher

    You would not BELIEVE how many books I had to give away when I moved from a large house to a small townhouse. And the cookbooks? Well even though I put a moratorium on buying any more several years ago, I had to give over one entire pantry shelf and a bunch of kitchen counter space to the ones I use most regularly. Now I rely frequently on a recipe app on my smart phone for anything that is not covered in my standard cookbooks.

  4. Laurie C

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts! I have recently made a couple of recipes that I had bookmarked on the computer and experimented with just using the laptop and not printing the recipes out. I do find it more convenient to have the printed version, mainly because of not having to scroll with messy fingers.

  5. Susan

    I have a cookbook shelf, that has now expanded to three shelves, and I’m running out of room too. I don’t have a solution for you, except if you buy cooking magazines too, then I’ve put those into plastic see-through boxes, to free up more space on my shelves. Hope this helps. That’s a lovely cover of Nigellisimo, which I don’t have yet. I have most of her cookbooks, so it’s only a matter of time before I have to try to fit it in! I like how you admit you will be having a book spree sooner or later, too.

  6. Michelle

    Book shelf space is a problem at our house as well. I’ve tried one cookbook on my Kindle and I find it hard to read and search as easily as a book.

    I love the idea of hyper-links in the table of contents though-that would solve a lot. Plenty looks like an excellent cookbook!

    Good luck finding more space! Perhaps a book addition?

  7. Carole

    Belle, interesting – I must give an e cookbook a go. I had so many that I cut them up for the recipes that were useful and threw the rest of hte books away – vandalism I know but it saved so much space! Cheers

  8. Beth F

    While I like the *idea* of eCookbooks, the truth is I rarely use just one recipe at a time and I need the books open and spread out so I can look without touching with dirty hands. I know I need to get with the 21st century.

    Plenty is a great cookbook — hope you love it.


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