One of our readers found this book on the Woot blog and submitted it. You have to admit, some of these recipes are ridiculous. The people and decor pictured are completely outdated, too. There are plenty of libraries out there, both public and academic, with this gem still riding the shelves. I think it’s safe to weed it.
Submitter: According to Nicholas Soyer, the method of paper-bag cookery “has made a great furor in England,” and, despite initial setbacks (“the paper got burnt, and soon afterwards it exploded”), is perfect for cooking nearly everything, except for “macaroni or kindred Italian pastes.” Various recipes for things like mutton stew are interspersed with weird narratives in which the testy author tells people to just “paper bag it” whenever they want cooking advice. I’ve included a sample recipe for mutton stew, the cover, and a strange excerpt for your awful library books viewing pleasure!
Holly: The submitter is from a public research library associated with a major university. That’s not the worst place for this book. Sadly, though, it is also available in a multitude of public libraries around the country. It’s interesting and quirky…but as part of a regular collection I’ll take the leap and call it an awful library book.
Submitter: I found this gem of a cookbook (if we can even call it that) at a library booksale. All of the recipes involve canned foods; one of my favourites, found in the “Vegetables” section, is a mushroom meatloaf. There is also an entire section devoted to recipes that involve SpaghettiOs.
Holly: My husband is one of the best cooks I know. He would gag at the very IDEA of this book. It is cute and catchy – there’s a whole series including “A Man, A Can, A Tailgate Plan” and “…:A Second Helping” – but an easy weeder if you’re looking for space. I probably would have skipped buying this one in the first place. It has a good premise for a public library collection, but is just too gimmicky and sexist to have enough substance to warrant actual money be spent on it. I can’t believe Men’s Health edited this and put their name on it! It doesn’t seem so healthy…