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The Cookbook Collector

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  11,568 Ratings  ·  2,150 Reviews

Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, twenty-three-year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and
Paperback, 405 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 2010)
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Aug 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking forward to listening to Allegra Goodman’s newest effort even though I was not a big fan of her last book “Intuition.” While I think the Jane Austen comparison is a bit over the top, I usually enjoy Allegra’s writing and I find her Jewish characters somewhat authentic or at the very least three-dimensional, which is unusual. My sister’s scathing review of this book did dampen my enthusiasm but I gamely put on my headphones and started listening, telling myself that I’m often less di ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This book was terrible! It felt like the author grasped for the most random topics and decided, Hey! I'm going to see if I can throw these together and create a masterpiece. I didn't enjoy it or get it. I was disappointed even by the title, which plays such a small part in the actual book. this book is about IPOs and startup technology companies during the technology bubble in the early 00's, throw in a little Jewish culture, a book collector, two sisters, tree savers, Oh, and if that's not enou ...more
Genuine, quirky and endearingly flawed

As a Janeite, it is impossible ignore the siren call when an author announces to the book buying world that her new novel The Cookbook Collector is “a Sense and Sensibility for the digital age.” Whoa! My first reaction was “this is literary suicide.” Why would anyone want to equate themselves to a beacon of world literature such as JANE AUSTEN?

It is impossible to know her personal motivations, but after a bit of online research, I can’t entirely blame Allegr
Jul 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, library-books
This was well-written and very readable and stood head and shoulders above most books with this plot. But therein lies the problem. I don't have a lot of interest in reading YET ANOTHER book about any of the following:

1) a pair of sisters, one of which seems to have it all together but has her life fall apart, and the other of which seems to be a flighty idiot but gets the HEA. (Other variations on this theme include a third sibling, either much older or much younger or male and therefore not im
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Meticulously boring, or perhaps boringly meticulous, this novel reminds me of why I usually don't enjoy literary fiction that takes place in the here and now. The protagonists are sisters Emily and Jessamine Bach, who live in California in the heady days of the dotcom boom. Emily is the chief of a hot new software company while her younger sister Jess whiles away her time as a moderately successful grad student in philosophy and the undervalued girlfriend of various patchouli-scented jerks. Emil ...more
Gary  the Bookworm
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Allegra Goodman is a wonderful writer but I wish publishing marketeers would stop hailing her as a contemporary Jane Austen; it does them both a disservice. You could argue that marriage is at the center of The Cookbook Collector and that moral questions drive the plot, but it is a stretch to find many more parallels to the unique world of Jane Austen.What Goodman does provide is a mostly rewarding portrait of her heroines and their contrasting world views. Jess is the intuitive idealist and her ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Ariadne Meyers

I admit I was seduced by the cover of this book, just as one of the characters is seduced by the possibility of scoring a rare book find. But unlike the character, I should have just said, “No.”

Goodman is apparently a talented writer of short stories (based on reviews and articles I’ve read), but this novel really misses the mark. She’s combining three (or four) plot lines to form this larger work, and as a result, none of them is satisfactorily explored. Th
Pickle Farmer
Aug 10, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman this morning after staying up late, shirking kid duty in the morning in order to read in the tub, and pushing my weekly breakfast with Dad back a half-hour so I could read the last 20 pages. I just loved it. I hadn't read Goodman's previous books, but knew of her reputation, and I liked the cover, so I brought the galley home.Reading at first with my usual caution for the unfamiliar, I was quickly drawn in. As the story unfolded I became more ...more
Candace Burton
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a book starts out so brilliantly that reading it is a fantastic voyage, only to be brought up short by a less-than-stellar conclusion. Goodman has managed to turn that paradigm inside out, composing a novel so startlingly quiet at the beginning and so stunningly well turned out at the finish, that the conclusion doesn't seem at all posited by the beginning. Jess and Emily are a pair of semi-orphaned sisters whose mother died when they were small, and whose father has remarried and had ...more
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Allegra Goodman scores again. I thought Intuition was very good, and this one is similar in that it features clever, fully drawn figures who weren’t afraid to play up their erudition. The sisters, representing Sense and Sensibility as my wife explained to me, were both likable, but in different ways. My only complaint about the book was that elements of the plot seemed slapped together with coincidence and cheap glue – not altogether worthy of the characters that were profiled so well.
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finished only the first few chapters, and as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I am amazed at the author's insightful description of a tech startup - though that is only one of the angles in the book. Enjoyable read so far, especially on a wet December afternoon!
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
this is another one of those novels that is entertaining enough while i'm reading it, but when jared asks for a plot synopsis, i realize that it's completely ludicrous (see also: a gate at the stairs by lorrie moore).

emily is the CEO of an internet start-up specializing in online data storage. jess is emily's younger sister, who is a student working at a used & rare bookstore. george owns said bookstore, & is a millionaire in his own right due to a youthful turn working for microsoft. t
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I don't think Allegra Goodman should be blamed because some critics have anointed her a "new Jane Austen"; no author in her right mind would welcome the inevitable comparisons that go with such a designation. A surprising number of goodreads reviewers appear to have taken the bait, and chastised Ms Goodman for not actually living up to the hype. Quite a few objected to the particular reader who did the audio-book. This doesn't seem completely fair.

The Cookbook Collector is a decent, but flawed,
Nicole R
Let me tell you what this book is not about: a cookbook collector. It's not even really about food. I think my rating would have been higher if I would have been better prepared for the lack of relevance of the title.

Sisters (that should have been the title of this book), Jess and Emily Bach are sisters who are extremely different: Emily is the highly successful CEO of a technology company while Jess is pursuing a PhD at Berkeley and moonlighting as an environmental activist. This is a compariso
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Having never read an Allegra Goodman novel, I was pleasantly surprised. This novel got excellent reviews and they were well earned! I love this book.

The book is set on both the west and east coast and to someone from the south, these may as well be foreign countries! I especially loved the Berkeley setting and Yorick's (the bookstore which plays a pivotal role in the story). The sisters, Jess and Emily, are wonderful characters and are so disparate in their views of their deceased mother. Little
Sisters Emily and Jess lost their mother when at a young age. Now as adults they’ve chosen completely different life styles. Emily is the co-founder of a successful dotcom business. Jess is an eternal student, working in a bookstore and campaigning for eco rights in Berkley.

The characters and premise are interesting, but the problem is Goodman can’t decide whose story she wants to tell. She starts with the two sisters, but she quickly gets side tracked by their friends, family, lovers, co-worke
Aug 18, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you read a book and feel as though you've made a new friend. And sometimes you feel as though you are trapped in an elevator - of your own volition, no less - with the single most annoying person (or people) ever created.
I hated this book from start to (why did I bother?) finish. I would love to tell you what it was about but frankly, I have no idea. Let's see. There are two sisters - Emily and Jess (cue Sweet Valley neat and tidy opposites as per responsible, fortune 500 Emily and rag
Callie Miller
Jul 22, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the part about the cookbook collection - the discovery of it, the archiving of it, the fascination with the collector, who we was and what all his ephemera meant.

Everything else - the bust, IPO's, 9/11, corporate secret-stealing, Save the Tress activism and faux-activism, standard sister issues, the newly discovered family that was strangely attached to money, all felt like a thousand kitchen sinks thrown in to take us off the trail...but off the trail of what? The core of the s
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be! It's the story of two sisters with opposite personalities (similar to Elinor and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility) and their numerous friends, lovers and relatives. The novel begins during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, takes us through its bust and, eventually, 9/11. (By coincidence, I read the 9/11 portion of the novel on the anniversary of 9/11, which was very moving.)

The heart of the book involves an antiquarian bookseller and a my
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
Sometimes the good thing about partaking in a reading challenge is that it makes you push your boundaries and read a book you normally wouldn't - I read the Cookbook Collector for just that reason. I'd seen it previously in stores, but it just never gained by attention enough that I read it. However, I'm glad that I did. Its a marvelous story about learning who you are and finding your place in teh world, about living each day as it comes and not putting off today what can be done tomorrow. I hi ...more
There is a LOT of detail in this book, sometimes too much, especially as related to cookbooks, California flora, and the world of high tech start-ups. I had heard from friends – including the one who gave me the book after not making it past the 100th page – that it was this level of tech detail that had turned them off. And I can see that. I actually found myself strangely drawn in by that aspect even as I tired of the cookbook and horticultural lore. That said, I didn’t necessarily find the hi ...more
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
As an Austenesque Addict that enjoys devouring every Austen-related novel that she can find, I have to admit that The Cookbook Collector is not a book I would normally read. It is only because the author was proclaimed to be “a modern day Jane Austen” and her latest novel, a modern day Sense and Sensibility, that this contemporary fiction novel found a place in my to-be-read pile.

Similar to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, this novel opens by introducing two very diverse sisters. Emily Bach
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a reread for me. I liked it better the first time. I reread this for a book club. As I began it, I remembered that I had gotten confused with the multitude of young brilliant men with amazing eyes and limitless futures. I also didn't get the difference between the start ups, the IPO's. I hoped that this time I'd get it, As I read this on my Kindle, I was able to easily underline parts which would help me distinguish stars, like Orion, and his satellites, Molly and Sorrel, and their compa ...more
Robin Cicchetti
The intriguing title and gorgeous cover art were enticing, and the laudatory reviews comparing this to the work of Jane Austen made it a must read. What a disappointment.

Two sisters, Emily and Jess,are making their way in the harsh world of the dot com bubble. Their mother died when the girls were very young, leaving nothing expect a stack of letters to each of her daughters, to be opened upon their birthdays. This thin device seemed to accomplish little more than navel gazing.

Emily is a workaho
Minakshi Ramji
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-kindle, novel
11/2/10: I wanted to love this novel; I mean, Goodman did her research at the Schlesinger LIbrary, where all great old cookbooks live, and the hero owns a used bookstore, and...but no. It just tries so hard to convince you of its worthiness, but it fails. Full of trite characters (the competitive dot-com guy, the sexually appealing but heartless tree hugger, the old lady with the cat), the book couldn't even get me that interested in the relationship between the two main characters, sisters who ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Jackie says:

This book has a broad range--from millionaire execs to literal tree huggers, book collectors and poetic references to food. It's about two sisters at its most basic, one a hugely successful workaholic, the other a drifting PhD candidate who just can't seem to settle down. And all the people they surround themselves with, willingly or unwillingly. Goodman is often compared with Jane Austen, and I can kind of see that with her deft complexity for weaving several disparate chara
Steve Betz
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Ten years ago, I made a major career trajectory change. For my whole career, I’d been a Big Pharma guy and with a move to Southern California I started working for Start-Up Biotech. Now those were pretty heady days – investors were throwing money at new biotechnology companies. Maybe they weren’t throwing as much money as they had at the genomics companies of the early 1990s, but still, biotech was a land of milk and honey where the sky was as high as your salary and you could dream of changing ...more
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Hello, Good Readers! It's a pleasure to meet you!

I was born in Brooklyn, but I grew up in Honolulu. When I was a seven year old living in Hawaii, I aspired to become a novelist--but I began by writing poetry and short stories.

In high school and college I focused on short stories and in June, 1986, I published my first in "Commentary." My first book was a collection of short stories, "Total Immersi
More about Allegra Goodman...
“How sad, he thought, that desire found new objects but did not abate, that when it came to longing there was no end.” 12 likes
“People ask every day, "Why was I put on earth?" As if there is perhaps one reason. The truth is that there are too many reasons to count, and each reason and each soul connects to every other,” 8 likes
More quotes…