Ali has a shelf especially devoted to her cookbooks too.
My shelf is in my sitting room right next to the end of the sofa where I sit. I have easy access to my beloved cookbooks, somewhere to put my mug or glass, and a shelf for my diary and notebooks. 

Top shelf
Mostly Nigella.  Also my very useful Mary Berry cake book plus other miscellaneous favourites.

Second shelf
Hugh F-W, Tessa Kiros et al. And Delia's Complete Cookery Course of course. These are not my most used books as you can see from the dust on the shelf.

Third shelf
Diana Henry (favourite cookery writer), Nigel Slater and Rose Prince. Plus The Diet Bible ironically balanced upon the Nigels.  As you can see it is well thumbed. It's a jolly good book actually, full of common sense advice as well as plenty of delicious sounding meal ideas. Note to self: don't just read it, follow its advice as well.

Bottom shelf
Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson plus a few other classics and some more recent publications.

And that isn't all of them.
There are no Jamies, Gordons or Hestons (cannot stand any of them). In fact Hugh and Nigel are the only men on my cookery shelf. There aren't many baking books either. Mary Berry is all I need. I'm not a fan of  cupcakes, cake pops (why?) or macarons or anything really that involves large quantities of icing sugar. As a general rule I like general cookbooks; books which deal with all kinds of food rather than specific types. 
I like pictures in a cookbook but I like good writing more. Many of my favourite books have no pictures at all. Cookbooks have to pull their weight if they are to stay on my shelf. They must either be useful or inspirational and preferably both. If they're not they go to Oxfam. Family members shouldn't buy me cookbooks because if it's one I want I'll have already bought it.



  1. Hmm Nigel Slater? He was jolly rude to a woman asking him a very simple question in a magazine and didn't actually even answer the question. There was an email address so I told him I thought he was rather rude and he said he didn't think he was; all said very rudely. So I don't like him very much!

    You have a lovely collection of cookery books. They are lovely to look through and read, never mind actually cooking something from them.

    Unfortunately I seem more interested in books about things than doing the things themselves. So I have lots of cookery books, many of which are used but also many craft books for things I have never done. I have many of jewellery making for instance which I have never used. I do use my knitting and crochet ones but rarely to make a project from, more as inspiration.

    I also have many fiction and non fiction books, many are in boxes as I have no room. Books are the only thing I am acquisitive over and cannot get rid of. A kindle will not be the same but I think I will have to get one or else there will not be room for people in my home.

  2. Cup cakes, cake pops and American muffins never make an appearance in my kitchen either, but REAL muffins, fairy cakes and buns do! I have 90% of the same books as you and NO Heston!

  3. I love you book shelves! I could quite happily sit in your living room for hours reading your books. Heaven.

  4. We have a remarkably similar selection of cookery books, although mine lean a bit towards "foreign food" and baking, which I love. However it is obvious to me that you put yours to far better use than I do. In fact I would hazard a guess that you put them to better use than most people do. I have to hold my hands up to a couple of Jamie Oliver's, but no Heston or Gordon either.

  5. Note to self. Next year on Dec 1st, do not send Sue a cookbook... Ax

  6. Book tokens and cold hard cash are welcome A!

  7. What a wonderful selection Sue. I've just enjoyed "Scandilicious" by Signe Johansen, borrowed from my local library and I've just purchased a couple of copies for Christmas presents. Knowing your penchant for Scandinavian crime I think Scandinavian cuisine could be right up your street!

  8. Scandilicious you say.... mmmm sounds good.

  9. Scandilicious is on my wish list.
    I think Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson are amongst my most used cook books. My new favourite is the Hugh F-W 'Veg Everyday' - everything I've made from it has been delicious.

  10. I have a cook book shelf as well, not quite so many books though.

    I have one Jamie but can't say I've made a single thing in it. One Nigella and four Nigel.

  11. Lovely collection of books, Sue. Jamie Oliver's cookery books are well used in our house. My favourite book, though, is Marguerite Patten's Century of British Cooking - just brilliant! :)

  12. Hi Sue

    I suppose it is the sign of a fellow addict that I wasn't happy just reading the post but was peering, squinting, to read the titles in the smaller print .

    Lovely! And, yes, a lot of duplicates of those on my shelf. Alright, shelves! Even the ones that are far less common. Actually they are possibly ones that you have mentioned in previous posts.

    I hold you responsible with your enticing photographs and recipes!

    Best wishes for a Happy Christmas.


  13. 17 books in common. I'm particularly enjoying HFW Veg at the moment. Very sensible to have them all in one comfortable place with the notebooks. Have you got any by Skye Gyngell? Or the Ottolenghi cookbook?

  14. No Skye Gyngell Lucille, but I've read Ottolenghi and it's one I may well buy.

  15. Sue, If you had to choose one from Diana Henry's "Cook Simple" or "Food from Plenty", which would you go for? I'm intrigued as you say she is your favourite writer. I note that "Roast Figs, Sugar Snow" is out of print, so don't say that one is the best!

  16. Nicky, Roast Figs has just been reissued, check out Amazon.

    My favourite and most used is Food From Plenty but Cook Simple is a close second.

  17. HI

    A couple of books you may enjoy for your cookbook shelf. Both by Annabel Langbein - a New Zealand chef:

    The Freerange Cook and Freerange in the City. Lovely photos and writing.

  18. Oooh very envious of those beautiful shelves Sue, what a fabulous collection.

    I'm, with you on the bloke cookery front, only Nigel and HFW do it for me (although the James Martin Winter one is rather good - charity shop find - and I did flirt with the chap off the farm - Jamie's mate - for a litte while but no more, the book is rather dull!)

    Good food writing is about so much more than ingredients and the process I think, Nigel S being the king. I'm surprsed at Faye's news about him being rude, do hope he was having an off day (but I reckon he's quite shy actually, always looks very awkward doing those bits on the telly with other people).

    Anyway, rambling on. I am putting shelves on my Christmas list. Would they fit in a stocking?
    Take care

  19. As an expat who learned to cook in the 70s from Delia my favorite cook here in the U.S is the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten). Otherwise I have Nigella, Jamie s Food Revolution and The Great British Bake Off.
    I also subscribe to Cooks Illustrated (Christopher Kimball) fascinating !

  20. Oh, and BTW, the apple pie cooked in a brown paper grocery bag from Tastespotting is hands down the best thing I have ever made !

  21. I'm with you on Jamie, Gordon and Heston, all very annoying, but none more so than Heston, who drives me up the walls. I don't mind Hugh so long as he keeps his hair short. My latest cookery book purchase (my collection isn't as impressive as yours) is Alice Hart's Vegetarian, which is full of good things.

  22. So after reading the comments, I am dying to know the difference between an "American muffin" and a "REAL muffin."

    P.S. I loathe cupcakes. Not sure what a cake pop is, but it sounds repulsive.

  23. We have a fair few cookery books in common Sue and, perhaps, the same bookshelves.... BUT were you to see the sole picture I have posted on my blog of my shelves you would come away with a smile for my books are placed all higgledy piggledy and yours look so well and happy.

    I love Tessa's Venezia for its inspirational photographs but unlike Apples For Jam (mine in French) I do not use it much for cooking with.

  24. Oh my, that's some cookery book collection! I have a couple of shelves worth, but most are rarely used. And hark at me, hardly a cook at all, about to mention a fella' you might want to add to your shelves ... Valentine Warner. I won a copy of his The Good Table in Karen's lovely blog giveaway (which I would have posted about properly long since as I love it, but my elder daughter does too and has borrowed it and so far failed to bring it back!)

  25. Another man for your collection -- Stéphane Reynaud. If I remember correctly from another forum, you are (or used to be) interested in learning French. Stéphane Reynaud's books are very French, and very good. I have "Ripailles" (my favourite), "365 Good Reasons to Sit Down and Eat", "Rôtis", and "Terrine". The only reason that I don't have "Pork and Sons" is that I am not a fan of offal, trotters and tails, so I doubt if I would get much use out of it -- but having said that, I may eventually buy it anyway because I read cookbooks for fun and almost never follow recipes.

    I am ashamed to say that my cookery books seem to be taking over the house, despite my best efforts to weed them out. :-)

  26. Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm familiar with most of them. Some, including Ripailles, I have owned in the past but unfortunately they failed my (but obviously not everyone's) useful/inspirational test.

  27. I've thoroughly enjoyed browsing your shelves - spied the flavour thesaurus at the bottom, which I've had a good thumb through, but do not own. Thought it was a really interesting idea.

  28. I dsicovered Sarah Raven thanks to your blog and we have another 20 or so books in common. I do have some Jamie (13 yo son likes to cook from them - say no more) but sent my only Gordon back to him with a note explaining how bad his book was!

  29. Suggestions for you - Leon, Ottolengi, Claudia Roden...

  30. Two words: Bill Granger.

    Just give him a try. (In the kitchen sense of course!)

  31. Anonymous4:48 pm GMT

    You might like Tamasin Day Lewis too, quite chatty in a Nigella vein.

  32. I share your love of Nigel and Nigella and my bookshelves are graced by most of their works. However by far the most thumbed volume is the Good Housekeeping book I acquired as a 50p book club opening offer during my final year at university. It lost its spine and cover years ago and the most opened pages are splattered with food but I won't be parted from it.

  33. Anonymous9:40 am GMT

    I think you may own more cookery books than me! I love reading them, I inherited all the Elizabeth David from my Mum. As to men in the kitchen, Simon Hopkinson is the one for me, his books are far better than his recent TV series if only they had just let him present his receipts instead of all that music and dodgey camera shots.

  34. What a lot of comments this post has caused. We have similar shelves but mine lacks Nigel (and I'm very grateful for your suggestions on that front) and is much heavier on the Delia.
    I have some that were left to me by the mother of a good friend and her notes and comments add a poignancy or piquancy to many dishes.
    My most used is my own handwritten book that is also very similar to yours.

  35. I get a bit peeved at Nigel, to be honest. I didn't like his 'seven nights of suppers' programme where one of the seven recipes was a cocktail. I like a drink, but I don't go so far as to view them as a supper. And the frugal programme in the series was a bit annoying: "add some chickpeas to a lamb casserole to make it go further." It was as if he was talking to people who had never even thought of frugality in their lives before. I expected something a bit more innovative from him than the old lamb and chickpeas combo.

    I do use his 30 minute cook book though I used it far more when it was just the two of us; it's not really suited to family cooking I find.

    I've got a man for you. My lovely Bill Granger. I honestly do not think I could live without him.

    Also with regards to men, I have it on good authority that Gary Rhodes is a right kn*b.

  36. Lots of books in common here too! I like Nigel slater and his emphasis on understanding cooking rather than blind recipe following. Can't stand Heston or Gordon. Love srah raven and hfw for veg and Diana Henry for lots of things. Newly come to ottolenghi and love the book although somewhat inhibited in actually using it by aged fil's attachment to mashed potatoes and tinned peas!

  37. Sue, I'm a fellow cookbook addict and also love Diana Henry. Her "Sugar on Snow" brings me right back to my native New England. Also love the English classics---Jane Grigson et al. Wonderful. I meant also to thank you for your pineapple pudding (with meringue)recipe. It was a huge hit in our family. My strapping 6'3" son devoured it.

    @ Karen S Booth: I'm not sure what the difference is between American muffins and "real" muffins, but as an American, I can assure you that ours, when done right, are pretty fabulous.

  38. I think by 'real' muffins Karen means what Americans call 'English muffins'. I'm a fan of both kinds.

    So many wonderful recommendations, thank you everybody.

  39. Jamie does have a quite new 8 minute video with some new ideas on roasting potatoes- it is nearly potato porn!- and they are the best I have ever made.
    worth a look... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsqODd789wI

    Happy reading and cooking! Love your shelves brimming with goodness.

    cheers from Canada

  40. Anonymous9:40 am GMT

    Must be the time of year - I've been writing a post about my cookery books too! I think I'll leave mine on the back burner for now, if you'll excuse the dreadful pun. I really enjoyed this post - there is something so fascinating about examining other people's bookshelves. Why is that, I wonder? Nice to see Kettle Broth up there, and lots of other familiar spines. Have to say, like your fit fridge, your books are in far better condition than mine. New Year's resolution perhaps...

  41. Anonymous7:22 pm GMT

    If I had to take only one cook book to a desert island then it would be Diana Henry and I wouldn't consider any other writer, she's fab. I don't have her roast fig sugar snow book though and wonder what you think of it?
    P.S really enjoying your blog and so glad I just stumbled across it!

  42. Isabelle2:29 pm BST

    Have you watched Heston's current Channel 4 programme 'Cooking like Heston'? It's him cooking at home, and whilst a lot of what he does is still more work than most people (well, I speak for myself) want to do day in day out, I thought he had some brilliant ideas that I am considering trying out eventually. It's not test tubes and expensive restaurant machinery (what I think of when I hear the name Heston).


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig