collectedCollectors and decorating experts Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson present a tour of peculiar, elegant, and awe-inspiring collections from around the world. Collected teaches readers the basic principles of the hunt while exploring the thoughtful and inventive ways people display their various collections, from the accessible and affordable to the aspirational extreme. The featured collections range from dice to café au lait bowls to 19th-century-French sewing tools to sand from world travels, illustrating collections as expressions of personal style.

From no frills (“The Modest”) to ornate (“The Exceptionalist”), Karch and Robertson examine the selected collections according to personality type. The book showcases 16 different collecting personalities, each with its own chapter, featuring gorgeous photo­graphs, vignettes showing how the objects are displayed, and a collecting lesson. (description from publisher)

The title of The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman is indicative of the book’s style. The cookbooks in question aren’t introduced until well into the story, and is just one of several plotlines. The book has been compared to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility but I get a Dicken’s vibe, myself. There is an abundance of characters; many of them quite eccentric. There is also a sense that, in this book and for these characters, morality is an actual consideration in how they conduct themselves and the choices they make.

Two sisters are contrasts in lifestyle and general philosophy. Jess, the younger sister, is a free spirit, environmentalist, and perennial student.  Emily is the CEO of a computer startup company (this being the late ’90’s and San Francisco).

Romantic tension abounds between Jess and her boss, the owner of a used and rare book store; they argue about everything –  books, authors and whether books should be collected and owned or shared (via the public library system!). The dialogue between these two is witty and erudite, but not pompous.

Book lovers, library users and patrons of book stores, will all find something in The Cookbook Collector to chew on.