Allegra Goodman’s “The Cookbook Collector” tells the story of two sisters, Emily and Jess.

Emily is a 28-year-old millionaire, thanks to the dot-com boom. She works as CEO of a Web startup. Jess is a graduate student at Berkeley, where she is studying philosophy.

Jess works in a store that sells rare books. In her spare time, she hands out leaflets about saving trees. Emily wants Jess to get a job with health insurance. “What if something happens to you?” she asks. “What if, for example, you fall out of a redwood?”

“The Cookbook Collector” also follows a number of supporting characters, including George, who owns the bookstore where Jess works, and Jonathan, Emily’s long-distance boyfriend.

George collects old books, and doesn’t care too much or need the money he makes from selling them. On the surface, he’s annoyed by Jess’ tree-hugging ways. Yet he cannot stop thinking about her when she’s not around.

Jonathan works for his own Internet company in Cambridge, Mass. He and Emily are experiencing the excitement of the Internet explosion. Emily naively shares a trade secret with him that sets off warning bells early in the story.

“The Cookbook Collector” would be a better read with fewer random characters and subplots, which dull the story.

But the best parts of the book trace Jess and Emily’s relationship. It’s also interesting that the story is set in the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, when profitless Internet startups wooed investors. We all know how it ended, but it seemed fun while it lasted.