Used Cookbook Store + Cook's Library In Pasadena + Owner Janet Jarvits

One woman and her 30,000 used cookbooks

When the Cook's Library closed last April, the food community lost one of its most treasured sources for cookbooks. Thankfully there's still Cook Books by Janet Jarvits, a dusty haven with more than 30,000 used, rare and hard-to-find titles.

Jarvits opened her first shop in Burbank in 1995 after acquiring thousands of cookbooks from the personal library of Helen Evans Brown, the author of The West Coast Cookbook. Jarvits relocated the store to Pasadena in 2001 and has been peddling used cookbooks there to nostalgic homemakers ever since.

Shelves are stacked floor-to-ceiling with everything from a first-edition Betty Crocker's Picture Book to eccentric titles like How to Cook and Serve Human. But it's classics like the Settlement Cookbook (a 1901 charity cookbook from a Jewish homemaker) and the original Fanny Farmer's Original Boston Cooking-School Cookbook that keep fans coming back. Jarvits finds that everyone from home cooks to professional chefs and collectors are simply drawn to the nostalgia. "Foodies look at the world through food-colored glasses," she says. "These books feed a basic need for them."

There's something to be said for searching the stacks firsthand, but Jarvits is all about modernity, too: Everything is available for purchase via the website.

Cook Books by Janet Jarvits, 1388 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; 626-296-1638 or