CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
Music – “The Collector” from The Collector by Maurice Jarre
Since I began my second cookbook collection, I have slowly and meticulously grown the collection over the period of several years. When the “official” count was conducted in July, 2013, there were 2,970 cookbooks, which garnered the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of cookbooks. Now, three years later, “we” are at 5,374 (unofficial).
Terence Stamp (Frederick) in the movie “The Collector” (released in 1965) played a lonely, unbalanced young man who stalks, kidnaps, and imprisons a pretty, young art student, Miranda, played by Samantha Eggar. One day, after following her in his van, Frederick kidnaps and chloroforms Miranda, locking her in the windowless stone cellar that he has prepared with a bed, some furnishings, and an electric heater. Frederick is a butterfly collector and treats Miranda as if she is one of his specimens.
After struggling to escape, to bargain with him, seduce him, etc. the young Miranda finally has the opportunity to bash Frederick in the head with a shovel. Unfortunately, it was in vain, as Frederick, just wounded, recaptures her and tosses her into the cold, wet cellar (the heater was broken during the fight). After being locked in the cold, wet cellar for 3 days, Miranda dies.
So, what does this say about the collector of cookbooks? Am I lonely? (I don’t think so) Unbalanced? (Certainly not!). Indeed, my cookbooks are prisoners, and are at my whim, however, I do not mistreat or abuse them and they really are in a good place.
A year and a half ago, when the count was approximately 4,600 books, they overwhelmed my small home and forced me into larger quarters (so, who is in control here?) The old saying, “If you build it, they will come” is true. Since moving to my larger home, “they” kept on coming, to the tune of 774 additions since my move in January, 2015. Despite the joy they bring me, and my spouse, who is the recipient of all of those recipes in all of those cookbooks, there are drawbacks. Here is my cautionary tale about collecting cookbooks on a large-scale:
1) Depending on the size of your collection and your devotion (passion? fetish?), they will continue to accumulate in your abode, despite your promises to cut back or stop (When I had about 1,800 cookbooks I “promised” my spouse that I would stop when I reached 2,000. Well, we can see that my nose is very long, like Pinocchio).
2) Eventually, if you are unable to control your addiction, you will have to move. (there is no “Cookbooks Anonymous” that I am aware of, but perhaps I should start a chapter).
3) Moving 4,600 cookbooks is very stressful: on the back, the legs, the hips, and everything in between, including your patience (more so for your spouse) and sanity. You will question why you are doing this and will be unable to come up with a logical answer.
In addition, if you plan to move around Christmas or New Years (which we did), you will be banned from local wine stores for filching hundreds (yes hundreds!) of empty boxes from their loading bays after making dozens of raids. They will blacklist you until after the holiday rush is over, when the need for boxes subsides.
4) You are now faced with an even bigger dilemma. With the extra space in your new abode for more bookcases, you will feel compelled to fill them up, so your collection will grow exponentially, as empty shelves are so sad to look at.
5) People will call you or e-mail you out of the blue, after hearing about your collection and will try to sell you books that you already have, don’t want, or are by cookbook authors you can’t stand. Anyone who checks my “virtual” bookshelves at http://www.eatyourbooks.com (EYB), “manycookbooks” has no cookbooks from Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Alton Brown, and with the exception of one as a gift, no others from Emeril Lagasse. We all have our favourites and we all have our pet-peeves in chefs. On the other hand, occasionally, people will call and donate their old unwanted cookbooks to “a good home”, which is very generous.
6) People will think you are nuts. The truth hurts. Some people think you’re secretly a hoarder, but don’t listen to them. Hoarders just hoard to do it and don’t care about the items they hoard. My “hoard” is neat, organized, temperature controlled and not dangerous.
7) People will ask you if you actually cook. Now, while it is true that I read cookbooks as other people read fiction, I really do use those recipes.
8) People will make comments such as “well, I have 10,000 cookbooks” so what’s the big deal about her 2013 Guinness World Record of 2,790? I respond by saying it’s like the lottery: you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket. The good folks at Guinness don’t know you’re out there unless you tell them and follow their rules. So, go for it and stop whining already!
9) Despite your careful collecting, organizing and maintaining your collection and cookbook database, you will still be unable to find a book you are looking for to use that “just right” recipe. Eat Your Books is a big help here, but even then, if you can’t find the book on the shelves, you’ll be tearing your hair out.
10) Bookcases and the weight of the books on them will crush your carpets beyond recognition. If you ever plan to move again (!!), also plan on replacing your carpets in your old house and hook up with a good chiropractor (I did both).
So, there you have it. All the down and dirty on cookbook collecting. Now get out there and check out those thrift stores and don’t be bullied or intimidated by non-cookbook lovers!