Like a favorite childhood blanket or stuffed animal, a cherished cookbook is sometimes not a pretty sight. It gets used, and hard: some pages may be stuck together with goop, while other pages might have torn themselves free from the binding. I’ve handled a few cookbooks that were so far gone with gunky covers I half-wished for a pair of rubber gloves.
But getting rid of a hopelessly worn cookbook can be out of the question. There’s sentimental value, yes—notes in the margins, the haphazard lacquer of residue from past recipes. Or just the practical consideration that the book might be out of print. We collected a variety of examples of cookbooks that have been subjected to decades of tough love. Their current condition makes a fine argument why some cooks prefer to print online recipes out rather than just glance at a phone or tablet.