Organising cook book shelves

25 August 2017
I don't know about you but I have a hard time keeping my cook books organised. Often I take them into my work room and after I find what I need, they sit on my sewing table for a couple of weeks.  By the time they are returned to the shelf, other books have taken their place and they go to a new spot.

I don't like sorting them into categories, because I'm quite a chaotic person and I'm comfortable with random placements. I'd never sort them by the colour of the cover and as crazy as it sounds, I've seen photos of books that have been sorted by colour.  That's the book equivalent of buying art to suit the colour of a room. Pfffft!  

But I'm happy with the placement I have now.  To my eye it's interesting and neat but even though it doesn't look like it, there are reasons for all the placements.  It probably doesn't matter much though. In two weeks it won't look like this because I look through these books frequently and my photos are memorialising their temporary places. Still, I'm happy with it and for a couple of days it will make me smile as I sneak a peak walking past.

What's your cook book shelf like?


  1. Overflowing at all times. Most books are in a cupboard behind a door; but slowly categories are moving out to other spots (preserving books in with my canning jars, small pamphlet cookbooks on my kitchen counter behind the mixer.) I love to cook and often receive them as gifts.

  2. Well, I just finished putting mine in no particular order. But they are neat and easy to find should I need to refer to one. They do get messed up, don't they?

  3. My cookbook shelf, in the cupboard above the fridge is higgledy piggledy with their placement changing every time I remove a book. Most of my cookbooks are old ones I've inherited from family and I love them for their history as much as some of the recipes I use out of them. One has instructions on how to render down mutton fat to make soap with, I don't think I'll be using that one in the near future. Cheers Lyndie

  4. love your chaotic bookshelf! it looks natural to me, i don't like order in the house, i do prefer the cottage/country look of things, that they're well used & lived in
    i don't have many cook books & what i do have sits on top of the fridge cos i don't have any shelves in the kitchen.
    lovely post
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

  5. I have mine loosely organized by type (preserving, family/church type collections, ethic, etc) and I try to keep them to one shelf in our office (which is next to our kitchen), though that means that right now they're sort of haphazardly stacked and double-shelved, because I've added some new ones and haven't purged any. I tend to go back to old favorites over and over again, and find new recipes online, so I could probably stand to let a few I don't use much go to someone else. I do know where everything is on the shelf, though, so that's something I guess.

  6. I have a whole bookshelf full of cookbooks. If I started cooking one new recipe a day, I'd be cooking for years and years and would still have books left.
    I arrange them according to regions and cooking methods. French, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Vietnamese etc. and slow cooking, cakes, desserts etc.

    1. Ditto! I have a whole bookcase, so a couple of hundred books probably, and they're also organised by type- cakes, region, wine and drink making, preserving etc.
      I'm quite interested in food history, so there are books on that in there too. I don't go in for books by personalities or from restaurants on the whole (main exceptions are HFW and Nigella who I think write well for the home cook.) I've had a few and they've either been poorly written (ahem, Tom Kerridge)or take 3 days to make a macaroni cheese (Gary Rhodes)...

  7. I have a few on shelves in the kitchen and the others sitting in a cupboard next to the kitchen table. They are together with everything I use for menu planning.
    I don't have a lot of them however the ones I do have certainly get used. I also use Paprika and the internet.

  8. I love cookery books and have hundreds (ex book seller!) but my favourite is my dear old Dad's, who was an army, then hospital chef. It is splattered with bits of batter, butter and flour, with scribbled notes, loose handwritten recipes, and my daughter's latest notes: a conversion chart - she's a child of the 21st century so cannot quite grasp pounds and ounces!

  9. That's funny you mentioned sorting by colour! I did this to all my books about two years ago after seeing it on Pinterest and they've been neat and tidy ever since. I find it much easier to keep them organised that way and I love how it looks. It's funny what works for different people and I'm always interested in how people organise.

  10. I am laughing out loud at your reaction to books arranged by colour! I was a Librarian (before kids) so the first time I saw a photo of books arranged by colour, my eyebrows hit my hairline.
    However, now that my life is no longer in alphabetical order (4 kids - I gave up on any order long ago), I can see the coloured spines as an easy organising option and calming to the eye. Librarians often get asked for "that wee blue book" and I know my kids often search for book by colour so maybe colour can be an acceptable system (if one can handle vikings next to crochet...)
    And any order is better than chaos, to my Librarian mind... ;-)

  11. I love my cookbooks. I have a son who has bought me some great ones recently and they look perfect in a chaotic style on the shelf. None of this colour coding business here, I love eclectic, lol. Also, I do check a recipe here and there too.

  12. I have 1 shelf in my bookcase filled with cookbooks. As I look at it, there is no order other than the ones that are deepest are on one end closest to the wall. Although I'm highly organized, it never occurred to me cookbooks should have an order to them :-)

  13. I used to have dozens and dozens of cook books - most bought when the department store I worked for bought the entire inventory from a defunct publishing company and all the books sold for ridiculously low prices - and I even had a special armoir for them.

    I found that I really did not use them enough so gave most of them away. I will never give the cook books that belonged to my Mom and Mother-in-law even though they are old and many of the recipes have more butter, salt and sugar then we think of as healthy. I tweak the recipes and they are delicious. I particularly love the penciled in notes beside the recipes that tell me how they tweaked the recipes.

    I have several note books filled with recipes I have tried and liked over the years and a box filled with all sorts of recipes written on scrap pieces of paper. These are ones that I found interesting but will not enter into a book until I have tried them out. I have about 60 years of experimenting ahead of me.

    I must say that I do enjoy "googling" recipes as you get a whole bunch for any one recipe which gives you the ability to look through them and find the one you like the best. Of course if we ever loose the electricity and internet then books will really show their worth.


  14. Stacked in piles. I love reading cookbooks. I think I have enough to open a small book shop of "one ofs". But I've realized they are creating a lot of clutter, so it is time to wean them out. I'll see if my local library is interested in them. Your shelf looks beautiful with all the books.

  15. Good for you for organizing them. I think it's always a good feeling to go through our things and put them in order. That's something I need to do, since I live in such a tiny cottage. I just have five cookbooks. I love them all. They are stacked on a shelf in my kitchen cupboard. I think I have more soapmaking books than I do cookbooks!

  16. My cookbooks (and food related/history books) take up nearly two bookcases in my dining room - love them all! They are largely organized by category and then by author- while I agree that organizing by colour looks great - it would drive me mad! I have WAY too many books to even try and organize hem by colour - I'd never find anything!

  17. My book shelves well kinda chaotic! Books pulled out, booked shoved back in. Piles of books on the couch, on my bed side table. Quite an eclectic bunch really. Theology books, kids books, random little childrens trinkets, knitting, and pens and paper all kind precariously balancing. I never post photos of that on my blog....haha!

  18. I simply love, love to see other people's bookshelves and how they arrange & decorate them! I think bookshelves are the heart of a home. They bring warmth & a home-y feeling into a room. I have a number of them throughout my home but my cookbooks are stored in a cupboard for the most part. But I do have one of those old-fashioned counter top bookshelves (1950's style) in my kitchen. It holds my most important ones as well as the ones that match my 1950's kitchen colors the most. I used a tea towel with black/white checks and cherries on it, under the books. Then a 1950's flour sifter finishes it off nicely. It makes me happy when I see it all put together like that. :)
    Thanks so much for sharing your bookshelf with us, Rhonda. I could spend a day or two sitting next to it, relaxing & reading. :) It's lovely!

  19. I have many cookbooks (over 100). I don't have any space in the kitchen for them, and so I store them in my living room and den. The ones I use the most are closest to the kitchen. This works for me, and I never seem to have any trouble finding what I'm looking for.
    I also have 15 cookbooks on my iPad. They take up no space at all!

  20. everywhere...what can i say? when you love books they end up on every surface

  21. I have two freestanding bookshelves full of cookbooks. Not only the ones I use a lot, but ones that I enjoy as a snapshot of history - "How to Win Your Man With Rice" is a good one, as is "When The Boss Comes to Dinner" and "The Working Wives Cookbook". They make me happy every day just looking at them.
    I have them organised loosely by type - all the charity ones together, all the River Cottage ones together, all the historic ones together. They don't look pretty grouped that way but that's not what they're for! I tend to flick through cookbooks of an evening rather than fiction. I really enjoy cooking and planning meals for the family.

  22. I have a lot of cookbooks and when we moved into our new house, one of our wooden bookcases, fit just perfectly into a space between the kitchen and meals room. So all my books are in this bookshelf, with one shelf in the middle displaying a collection of teapots. I love it, it is colourful but there is no particular order as I am always taking them in and out!

  23. Rhonda, I love the photo at the top of this post with the lovely household wares sitting near your recipe books. So neat & tidy.
    Having just spent an hour drooling over the beautiful wares at the Odgers & McCelland, Exchange Stores website, I was thrilled to see them on your shelf, obviously in daily use.
    Thankyou for having the ad for that store on your blog. I have been searching for genuine goods such as those for many years.
    I'm glad to have found your blog again. I went to a workshop you ran in Cooroy a couple years ago at the library.



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