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How Many Cookbooks Are Too Many?

Nancy Leson
Nancy's loss is the Friends of the Edmonds Library Book Sale's gain.

What say you? In Nancy Leson's case, "1,500 to 2,000" was too many cookbooks — so many that she could hardly get into her office any more.  So she called in her good friend Judy Amster, she said, "and we had an intervention." 

So how did Nancy and Judy decide which to keep and which to evict?  Nancy, under advisement from Ms. Amster, kept those with collector value. Judy "also understood what cookbooks are just central to my beating heart," Nance said.

And what of the cookbooks so cruelly discarded?

"I got rid of books that I hadn't cracked in 20 years. I got rid of books that just got dated. That happens a lot with the photographs," she said.

There's just something about cutting down the clutter that makes you feel good. 

"The purging ... was hard, but in the end, I felt so much freer," she said.

Even so, Nancy may not be entirely out of the Cookbook Clutter woods yet, because, as she said, "Now I can go to the Edmonds Library sale and buy my cookbooks back."

"Half the cookbooks tell you how to cook the food and the other half tell you how to avoid eating it."

– Andy Rooney


Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.