I just got home from one of my favorite things in the world — a library book sale. I’ve written before about the great cookbook finds I get when I attend these book sales that give second lives to books that others don’t want. The prices are really great. At this sale the books were $2 for hardbacks, $1 for paperbacks, and 3/$1 in the kids section. In addition to cookbooks, I came home with 15 novels for my boys to choose from for their summer reading, and I only paid $5 for all of them. (Speaking of my boys, this is totally off-topic, but my 10-year-old’s baseball team won the championship last night, and I am one incredibly proud mom this morning!)

When you go to these book sales, you need to be prepared for a crowd, and not always a nice, orderly crowd, either. The photo above is from outside the library when I first arrived this morning before the doors opened. The line wrapped all the way around to the back of the building. If you can take the pushing and the being bumped and the frantic people who are trying to load themselves up with books to turn around and sell on eBay, you can walk away with some great books that you might never find at the bookstore.

Here are the food-related books I came home with from this trip. I always limit myself to five when I go to these sales — I only have so much shelf space.

"Fresh Choices: More Than 100 Easy Recipes for Pure Food When You Can’t Buy 100% Organic" by David Joachim and Rochelle Davis: The title alone was enough to make me grab this book. I do the best I can, but I can’t afford all organic. In addition to recipes, this book has a lot of information about the claims we see on food like “grass-fed or pasture-raised beef” and “vegetarian eggs.” I think this will be a good reference book in addition to a good cookbook. I'd never heard of Fresh Choices before, but that's what's so great about these sales — you don't know what you'll stumble on.

"Heinerman’s New Encyclopedia of Fruits & Vegetables" by John Heinerman: The author of this book is a medical anthropologist, and the book contains health-promoting uses for hundreds of fruits and vegetables. I do know that foods have medicinal purposes, but I don’t know a lot about it. I thought this might be a good start in learning. The book claims, for instance, that radishes can stop chronic coughing and raging fevers, be used an underarm deodorant, and also be used to sooth burns and scalds.

"Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook" by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good: I love to use my slow cooker, and I’m always looking for good recipes, but I’m looking for a book that doesn’t contain recipes that all contain a can of cream of mushroom soup. I just opened it up to page 94 and 95 and the seven recipes on those pages all contain that specific soup. I’m hoping to find a few keepers in this book, but I have a feeling I’ll be donating it back to next year’s library book sale. If you have this book, feel free to point me to some of your favorite (non-cream of mushroom soup) recipes.

"Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life" by Michael Lee West: I love to read about the experiences of people who have thrown themselves into a life of food culture. This memoir runs the gamut, including  “mothers swing from chandeliers, elderly aunts brew love potions, a South American nymphomaniac stirs up trouble at a Louisiana barbecue joint, and a cabbage-eating ghost haunts relatives — all in the pursuit of good food.” I have a feeling this book may end up on my beach read list for next summer.

"Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" by Anthony Bourdain: I’m probably the only person in the food-related business who doesn’t know much about Bourdain. I’ve heard a lot about this book though — usually just “You have to read it.” So now I have it. That’s one step closer to reading it, right?

To find when and where library book sales are near you, visit Book Sale Finder.


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Fill up on secondhand cookbooks
You never know what you'll find at a library book sale.