Book Review: The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman is my first read off my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge list.

Do you ever go back and look at your TBR list on Goodreads, Amazon Wishlist, or however you may keep track and suddenly realize you can’t remember why you put it on your list? This was one of those books for me and why it was one of the ones that was definitely going on my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge list, because it had obviously been there long enough for me to not remember why it was on my TBR pile.

That being said, I actually went into the book pretty blind, not knowing what quite to expect. I didn’t even read the blurb on Goodreads about it, and since I read it in eb00k form I didn’t have the back of the book blurb either. I actually like to do that fairly often, I like to go into a book without preconceptions about what it’s going to be about or what it should be about.  Sometimes this is great and makes for a great reading experience, other times I accidentally get half way through a book and realize it’s a horrible romance novel ( no offense to fans of romance novels, they are just for the most part not my cup of tea). But I digress, on to the book review!

The Cookbook Collector centers around two sisters, Emily and Jessamine Bach. For sisters, they couldn’t be more different. Emily is very focused, business oriented and driven to become a successful business leader with her new internet business.  Meanwhile Jessamine (who goes by Jess mostly in the book) is dreamy, an activist, and much to their father’s despair is studying philosophy.

I think for a large part this novel was about two women on different paths growing up, changing in ways that they thought they never would and how they world was changing so fast in the early 2000’s. They discover a lot about themselves, their family and their love life.

And you say, what about the cookbook collector? I actually spent a large chunk of this book wondering where the cookbooks were. One of my favorite things about this book is that part of it takes place in a dusty antique bookstore that is Jess’s place of employment. I am a sucker for any book that includes old books and research. This book has both. Jess’s boss is approached by a slightly odd woman who’s uncle has passed away. While hesitant at first to let him see the collection, she finally relents and lets them into her uncle’s house. Where they find cookbooks stuffed in every conceivable (and inconceivable) nook and cranny of the uncle’s kitchen. Cataloging and working with this collection becomes a central part of Jess’s story and her character development.

I’ve felt like maybe I’ve rambled and not explained this clearly but in a way it’s because I don’t want to give away much of the story. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it was because I went in not knowing what to expect and was able to take the journey with Emily and Jess. You can relate to both characters and see their side in things, at times I felt Emily’s concern for Jess and was wondering at the same time how on earth she could make that choice and others I was with Jess wondering why Emily didn’t see what she was doing and how it was effecting her life.

So if it’s been on your TBR pile for a while like mine, give it a chance. It was a good quick read and I think most will enjoy.


Here is the rest of my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge List.

Leave a comment


  1. I quite like the sound of this one, although I think I’d like to hear more about the cookbooks, too!

  2. Glad you enjoyed this one! Like you, I’ve had this book on my shelf for awhile now. Seems like I’ll have to get to it sooner rather than later 😉

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