The 30 Best Coffee Table Books of 2023 for Every Interest

Our top picks include books about art, design, travel, and more.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Three of the best coffee table books on a blue background

Amazon

A coffee table book can be an equally stylish and amusing item that adds a finishing touch to your home or makes a great gift. With its bold graphics, interesting text, and striking photography, a coffee table book is a piece of decor that can be entertaining, funny, and inspiring all in one. 

To determine the best coffee table books, we spent hours researching different options in a variety of categories and interests to find options that appeal to everyone. For expert advice on shopping for and decorating with coffee table books, we spoke to interior stylist, designer, and author Natalie Walton

“Books are one of my favorite styling tools,” she says. “They add depth, height, volume, color, and interest to any scene and are accessible and affordable when compared with most decorative accent pieces. Books also have the added benefit of providing you inspiration and ideas within their pages, too.”

Below, see our coffee table book recommendations, and keep scrolling to get your coffee table book-related questions answered.

Accidentally Wes Anderson

Accidentally Wes Anderson

Amazon

Who it’s for: Movie lovers looking for a book that’ll fuel their wanderlust.

Who it isn’t for: People who aren’t a fan of Wes Anderson’s style.

Ah, Wes Anderson. It's hard not to fall in love with his eternally quirky and kitschy films and knack for stylized, symmetrical interiors. While the places in Accidentally Wes Anderson aren't actually found in his films, they do look like they could belong in his world—in fact, Anderson has given his stamp of approval and even wrote the foreword for the book.

Accidentally Wes Anderson highlights well-known landmarks and undiscovered gems from all over with a fascinating description that tells you the story behind each location. You’ll get some major travel inspiration for your next vacation, as well as a craving for some Courtesan au Chocolat

Price at time of publish: $38

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.45 x 9.3 inches
  • Pages: 368 
  • Year of Publication: 2020

Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses

Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses

Amazon

Who it’s for: Fans of mid-century design who want to learn more about it.

Who it isn’t for: People who find it hard to read small text.

With its funky pink or yellow cover, depending on the edition, this book is a stylish addition to your coffee table—and you might just learn a thing or two about mid-century architecture by cracking it open. The book is an in-depth survey of residential mid-century architecture, compiling more than 400 homes all over the globe created by both famous architects and unknown designers.

In addition to gorgeous photographs of each structure, you can also read descriptions that walk you through the design and building process; however, the text is pretty cramped, which may be challenging for some to read. This book is a great gift for architecture aficionados or for anyone who wants some new design inspiration for their home. 

Price at time of publish: $70

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.38 x 11.75 inches
  • Pages: 448
  • Year of Publication: 2021

Foraged Flora: A Year of Gathering and Arranging Wild Plants and Flowers

Foraged Flora: A Year of Gathering and Arranging Wild Plants and Flowers

Amazon

Who it’s for: Plant enthusiasts who want to get inspiration for their next floral arrangement for their home.

Who it isn’t for: People who aren’t interested in learning about nature or plant life.

Foraged Flora is about more than just pretty flowers. The 272-page book showcases intriguing photography and unique floral arrangements that are organized by month, with each page dedicated to a display of flowers and plants foraged at a specific time of year. It also contains reflections written by Roebuck on the surprising pairings she came up with and the artistic and environmental factors that go into each arrangement. After leafing through this book, you'll probably want to go out and cut some beautiful blooms to decorate your place, and you'll gain some newfound appreciation for the natural world around you. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.81 x 1.19 x 12.01 inches
  • Pages: 272
  • Year of Publication: 2016

Pantone: The 20th Century in Color

Pantone: The 20th Century in Color

Amazon

Who it’s for: Designers, history buffs, and interior design fans who want to learn more about the trends of the 20th century.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book that’s focused on more current events.

Part design reference, part history book, Pantone: The 20th Century in Color, breaks down the trends, events, and movements of the 20th century by color. Each page of the book examines why various hues found themselves in certain artistic and cultural shifts and how they resurged over the course of the century. It touches on the shiny silver of the Art Deco era to the browns of mid-century modern decor, making you consider how color impacts the space you live in and what it says about our culture today. It also doubles as an amazing resource for artists and designers who want to incorporate some vintage flair into their work or homes.

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 11.38 inches
  • Pages: 204 
  • Year of Publication: 2011

The New Black West: Photographs from America's Only Touring Black Rodeo

The New Black West: Photographs from America's Only Touring Black Rodeo

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a book that tells the story of a contemporary subculture with compelling photography.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a book that’s focused on design or art rather than culture. 

When you think of cowboys, you probably think of old Wild West films featuring tall guys in cool hats, which is a narrative that The New Black West challenges. This monograph documents modern Black cowboys at the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in Oakland, which draws cowboys from all across the country to enter thrilling competitions and celebrate cowboy culture. 

Gabriela Hasbun has been snapping the event for years and includes photographs from her many attendances as well as anecdotes from her experiences and from the cowboys themselves. You'll pour over its showstopping images of cowboy stunts and laid-back photos of backstage antics that depict all that goes into being a 21st-century cowboy and brings a community that's often overlooked to life.

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.75 x 11.35 inches
  • Pages: 144 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

W Magazine: 50 Years/50 Stories

W Magazine: 50 Years/50 Stories

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a light read with lots of pretty photographs to look at. 

Who it isn’t for: People who aren’t into pop culture.

W Magazine first hit the newsstands in 1972 and quickly became known for its compelling stories, fashion photography, and work with top-notch designers and artists. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, W enlisted the help of 50 friends and artists to reflect on the most salient moments from the publication. 

This retrospective features exclusive shoots with celebs like Dolly Parton and Tilda Swinton, covers featuring Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell that encapsulate the supermodel era, and work from renowned artists like Steven Meisel and Richard Prince. The combination of star-studded editorials and breathtaking visuals will appeal to pop-culture nerds, fashionistas, and art aficionados alike.

Price at time of publish: $75

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 10.35 x 1.14 x 13.25 inches
  • Pages: 240 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Who it’s for: People who want an aspirational coffee table book to help them elevate their home decor.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer maximalist interior design.

This book explores 28 residential homes that showcase different styles of Japanese interior design and chart its evolution. You'll get plenty of decor ideas in the seaside digs, historical abodes, and urban dwellings that grace the book’s pages, all tied together by a design philosophy that blends natural elements with one's living space. 

Many of the residences have a minimalist approach to design, but they don't feel sparse or sterile. Rather, each living space has a functional approach that you can incorporate into your home or use as inspiration to tidy up your home. Additionally, the book includes tours of homes designed by celebrated Japanese architects, such as Kengo Kuma and Arata Endo. 

Price at time of publish: $80

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.25 x 1.13 x 10.7 inches
  • Pages: 256 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Who it’s for: People looking for a coffee table book with unique photography to peruse.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a book that’s educational and contains text.

Swimming pools may not be the most obvious subject for a coffee table book, but by using aerial photographic techniques, Brad Walls is able to present them from a unique perspective. Walls spent three years traversing four different countries to shoot pools from new heights, capturing their funky architecture, dappled textures, and blue hues, which you probably don't notice while you're splashing around in the summer. The result is a book full of relaxing pictures that makes you feel like you're on vacation, and it'll make you wonder what other spaces you should explore with fresh eyes. Plus, the serene cover will bring a chic touch to your living room. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 9.18 x 0.81 x 10.99 inches
  • Pages: 176 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Who it’s for: Movie buffs who want an inside look at their favorite Ghibli films. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer coffee table books that cover multiple artists.

Hayao Miyazaki films are like no other. His movies have captured audiences for generations with their supernatural twists and stunning visuals, which look just as gorgeous on paper as they do on screen. This book covers all 11 of Miyazaki's feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away, in a whole new light, combining film stills with storyboards, character designs, backgrounds, concept sketches, and never before seen artwork from the Studio Ghibli archives. As the cherry on top, you can also read about Miyazaki's creative process and animation techniques to learn all that goes into creating your favorite Ghibli films. 

Price at time of publish: $45

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 9 x 1.2 x 11 inches
  • Pages: 288
  • Year of Publication: 2021

African Art Now: 50 Pioneers Defining African Art for the Twenty-First Century

African Art Now: 50 Pioneers Defining African Art for the Twenty-First Century

Bookshop

Who it’s for: People interested in art or who want to learn more about contemporary art.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book with a more understated appearance.

African Art Now is a great book for art lovers or anyone who wants to become a little more cultured. Written by British-Ghanaian curator Osei Bonsu, this book spotlights the work of 50 leading contemporary African artists, including established names like Tunji Adeniyi-Jones and exciting up-and-comers. 

In addition to top-notch reproductions of featured artwork, you can read engaging profiles written by Bonsu that explore the artist's backstory and creative process, illustrating the vastness of African cultures, experiences, and ideas. Plus, its vivid yellow cover, featuring work by Amoako Boafo, is the perfect accent piece for any coffee table. 

Price at time of publish: $55

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 9.45 x 1 x 11.25 inches
  • Pages: 160 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Wayward: Stories and Photographs

Wayward: Stories and Photographs

Target

Who it’s for: People who want a book that combines remarkable photography with personal stories.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a large format coffee table book.

Ever wondered what goes into taking the gripping nature and adventure photos you see in National Geographic? Crack open Chris Burkard's photo book and find out. Waywards is a collection of natural and landscape photography paired with frank descriptions of what went down before and after each shot. 

The photographs capture remote destinations from all over the planet, including Russia, Norway, Iceland, and the Aleutian Islands, and detail the personal stories and experiences Burkard has gained as one of the top photographers of our time. From catching hypothermia to spending a few nights in jail, Burkard does whatever he has to do to get the shot, and the thrilling captures included in Wayward are made all the more compelling by learning what happens on the other side of the lens. 

Price at time of publish: $35

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 7 x 1.15 x 9 inches
  • Pages: 320 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Home by the Sea: The Surf Shacks and Hinterland Hideaways of Byron Bay

Home by the Sea: The Surf Shacks and Hinterland Hideaways of Byron Bay

Target

Who it’s for: People who want an interior design book that includes interviews with each homeowner in addition to photographs of their space.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book with bold colors that will stand out in their space.

Byron Bay is a coastal town in Australia known for its beautiful landscapes and vibrant creative community, and its dwellings are just as creative as their inhabitants. Natalie Walton, a native of the area, interviewed 18 artists, designers, and makers to tell the story of their work, their relationship to Byron Bay, and their home. 

You'll get a sense of what life is like in this unique town and maybe take away some Aussie sensibility to incorporate into your own home to make it more relaxing. Each profile is accompanied by breathtaking photography from Amelia Fullarton that captures the laid-back lifestyle and residents that make Byron Bay so special. 

Price at time of publish: $45

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 10.9 inches
  • Pages: 272 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

All Is Possible

Ruth Asawa: All Is Possible

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who are interested in learning more about modern art.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book with lots of color.

You don't have to be a fan of modernist art to appreciate this intimate look at Ruth Asawa's work and creative process. This book was produced to document Asawa's show at the David Zwirner gallery and includes reproductions of her intricate and mesmerizing wire sculptures for which she’s most known for. You'll also see reproductions of rare works, such as ceramic casts of her family's and friends' faces, intimate stills from her daily life, drawings of her children, and more. Between the snapshots of Asawa’s artwork and personal life, you'll find text from writers and curators on Asawa's life and work that offer more insight into her prolific career. 

Price at time of publish: $75

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 10.75 inches
  • Pages: 192
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images

Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a unique coffee table book that can be read and reflected upon.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book that can be casually flipped through. 

Things like sunrises, flowers, and rain are things you come across daily but probably don't give a second thought to. Book of Symbols takes a look at quotidian objects and events to investigate the deeper meaning that they hold throughout history. The book engages the talents of psychologists, religious and classical scholars, philosophers, and art historians to examine how symbolic objects in art appear in our everyday life. It's definitely not the book you'd go for if you want a pretty coffee table book to occasionally flip through, but if you want a read that has lots of substance and will make you think, this is a great pick. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 7 x 2.1 x 9.7 inches
  • Pages: 808 
  • Year of Publication: 2010

Who it’s for: Fans of Patti Smith who want to get an inside look into her life.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book with large, colorful images, as opposed to small, vintage Polaroids.

In 2018, living legend Patti Smith began to nonchalantly share Polaroid snapshots of her daily life on her Instagram—the book she's reading, her morning cup of coffee, her cat playing, and other glimpses into her routine. Her casual approach to social media left fans clamoring for more, so Smith put together a book that documents a year of her life in photos.

Over 365 images document her day-to-day habits and travels, complete with personal notes and vintage photographs that give you a peek into her mind. It's a must-read for anyone who's a fan of Smith's music and poetry, but anyone who considers themself to be creative will definitely enjoy reading about her artistic and inspiring approach to life. 

Price at time of publish: $29

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 5.48 x 1.49 x 7.34 inches
  • Pages: 400
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Every Person in New York

Every Person in New York

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a small, quirky coffee table book that revolves around illustration.

Who it isn’t for: People who are looking for a book they can actually read.

New Yorkers know that what makes NYC so special is the people who live there. That's why artist Jason Polan challenged himself to draw every person who lives in New York City, from the bodega owners to A-list celebs. While the mission itself is impossible, Polan has succeeded in compiling 36,000 sketches that capture the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and its quirky residents. The book itself is just under the size of a sheet of paper, so it's easy to move around your coffee table or even take it on a trip for some light reading. In addition to the sketches, you'll also want to check out the entertaining foreword written by Kristen Wiig. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.1 x 9.25 inches
  • Pages: 408
  • Year of Publication: 2015

Women Holding Things

Women Holding Things

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an artsy coffee table book with a personal touch. 

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a coffee table book that’s more lighthearted.

When everything went into lockdown in 2020, artist Maira Kalman began to paint women holding things in both a physical and metaphorical sense—her subjects hold everyday objects like dolls, cakes, and balloons, but also feelings like sadness, grief, and joy. Women Holding Things includes 67 portraits of regular and well-known women, interwoven with Kalman's own personal anecdotes and ruminations, that reflect on all the objects and expectations that women carry. Her vivid portraits make for a coffee table book that's equally beautiful and inspiring, especially if you're in need of a pick-me-up.  

Price at time of publish: $33

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 6.94 x 0.98 x 8.76 inches
  • Pages: 176 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

The Five Lives of Hilma af Klint

The Five Lives of Hilma af Klint

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an engaging book that will help them learn more about an artist. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a traditional coffee table book as opposed to a graphic novel.

Hilma af Klint's pioneering abstract art went underappreciated for so long, but a 2019 posthumous exhibit in the Guggenheim brought her work to center stage (in addition to coffee tables anywhere). However, if you want a book that focuses on reproductions of the artist’s work, this isn't for you. The Five Lives of Hilma af Klint is a graphic novel that tells the story of her unique life and journey in art, spirituality, and family with engaging illustrations and well-researched text. If you're an art lover, you'll gain a newfound appreciation for af Klint's work, and if not, you'll still be captivated by the story of her remarkable life.  

Price at time of publish: $35

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.25 x 0.6 x 11.75 inches
  • Pages: 120
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Who it’s for: People who want a simple photo book with powerful images. 

Who it isn’t for: People who like coffee table books with text in them.

No list of coffee table books would be complete with Robert Frank's The Americans. This seminal compilation of post-war photographs made its mark on the art world through its off-kilter and raw glimpse into American life. You don't have to be into photography to appreciate it though: Frank's gripping work will suck you right in and transport you back to mid-century times. 

His work documents people from all walks of life as well as ordinary scenes you can still see around the USA: gas stations, parking lots, and trains are popular locations, but Frank's perspective makes them all the more compelling. Aside from an introduction by Jack Kerouac, there isn't any text in this book, but it doesn’t need any. The images speak for themselves.  

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.25 x 1 x 7.25 inches
  • Pages: 180
  • Year of Publication: 2008

Franca: Chaos & Creation

Franca: Chaos & Creation

Assouline

Who it’s for: People who want a bold coffee table with an emphasis on fashion photography.

Who it isn’t for: People who aren’t in a position to spend a lot on a coffee table book.

Franca: Chaos & Creation is a photobook that complements a 2016 documentary of the same name that chronicles the life of fashion visionary Franca Sozzani. This book takes a look at her decades-long career at Vogue Italia and celebrates her work and the work of her collaborators, including dynamic editorials and iconic covers shot by the likes of Steven Meisel and Tim Walker. Each page comes alive with Sozzani's powerful imagery and distinct blend of fashion, fine art, and photography. 

Price at time of publish: $250

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 15.31 x 2.72 x 12.2 inches
  • Pages: 408
  • Year of Publication: 2019

Steven Klein

Steven Klein

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a stylish coffee table book that’s full of provocative images.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a book that contains lots of bold, colorful photos that cover each page.

Even if you aren't familiar with Steven Klein's name, you've definitely seen his work before. The provocative photographer has worked with celebs like Brad Pitt, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian for Vogue, W, and other publications. His self-titled Phaidon release has over 200 stills that span his 30-year career and show off his hyperreal creations and bold compositions. 

The monograph is simple in design: Klein’s work is displayed on a blank page with a brief description to give you some context, almost as if you're looking at them in a gallery. However, this design allows his photographs to be all the more impactful, and the bright-red typography on the book's spine cover adds a chic element to any coffee table. 

Price at time of publish: $200

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 15.9 inches
  • Pages: 464
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Who it’s for: Music nerds who want to pore over stylish photographs that record jazz history.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a smaller book they can easily display on their coffee table.

Jazzlife compiles the work of William Claxton, who spent the 1960s traveling the country to document the musicians and culture surrounding the musical phenomenon that was then sweeping the nation. Claxton sought out amateur musicians, marching bands, funeral parades, and recording studios in his sleek photographs, capturing the people who were making jazz and the places it was performed. 

Jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis grace the pages of Jazzlife, as well as the unknown performers who brought jazz to street corners everywhere. One thing to note is that this book is on the bigger side, and while that allows each photograph to appear larger than life on each page, it may be difficult to make room for other books on your coffee table. 

Price at time of publish: $53

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.18 x 18.75 inches
  • Pages: 720 
  • Year of Publication: 2005

Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen

Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen

Amazon

Who it’s for: Foodies who want a cookbook that combines photography, storytelling, and delicious recipes.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer coffee table books that are centered around art or design.

Black Power Kitchen is the first cookbook from Bronx-based collective Ghetto Gastro and includes recipes as multifaceted as their organization. Ghetto Gastro uses its book as a vehicle for its mission which uses food to not only bring communities together but to also create social change. The cookbook contains 75 flavorful, mostly plant-based recipes that take inspiration from the diversity of Bronx cuisine, combining them with compelling storytelling that celebrates Bronx culture. 

Standouts include Coco Loco, a scrumptious coconut ice cream recipe inspired by hot summer days uptown, and Red Drank, a refreshing sorrel (the Caribbean term for hibiscus) concoction that references hibiscus-flavored beverages found throughout the African diaspora. In addition to its storytelling, Black Power Kitchen features some impeccable food photography that could make for a lovely photo book on its own. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 11 inches
  • Pages: 304 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Who it’s for: People who want a photo-heavy coffee table book that focuses on a unique subject matter.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book that’s less specialized.

Vinyl jacket art is about more than just the album on the inside. It tells you about the artist and the time period in which it was designed, and it can be just as iconic as the actual record itself. 1000 Record Covers explores some of the best rock album art from the ’60s to ’90s, exploring how it evolved as an underrated art form. 

There isn't a lot of text that goes along with each album; instead, the book allows you to appreciate each jacket cover as its own work of art. With over 500 pages of records to peruse, 1000 Record Covers can supply music lovers, designers, and artists with endless inspiration. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 5.94 x 1.46 x 7.91 inches
  • Pages: 576
  • Year of Publication: 2014

The Space Shuttle: A Mission-by-Mission Celebration of NASA's Extraordinary Spaceflight Program

The Space Shuttle: A Mission-by-Mission Celebration of NASA's Extraordinary Spaceflight Program

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who are interested in space or who want to learn more about NASA’s shuttle program.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book with a brighter cover.

Through breathtaking imagery and compelling text, The Space Shuttle chronicles the story of NASA's shuttle program. It includes all 140 space flights that occurred over the program's 30-year lifespan with visuals from NASA photojournalists, fine art photographers, and astronauts. 

The stunning visuals are accompanied by descriptions that reveal fascinating details about each mission and the crew members who made them possible, which will delight space enthusiasts and amateur astronomers. Highlights from this book include the first untethered space walk, the launch of the Hubble Telescope, and other moments that make up some of NASA's most iconic achievements.  

Price at time of publish: $50

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.3 x 11.5 inches
  • Pages: 320
  • Year of Publication: 2022

30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space

30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space

Phaidon

Who it’s for: Art lovers looking for a coffee table book with broad contents.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a large book with pictures and text that are easy to read.

With its bright pink cover and engrossing contents, 30,000 Years of Art makes for an ideal coffee table book. It catches the eye when perched upon a table or shelf, and it's compact enough to fit on smaller pieces of furniture. Keep in mind that even though it's small, it's thick: This book packs in over 600 pieces of art that represent the most notable artistic achievements from around the globe. 

Its pages are organized in chronological order, and a short description is included with each piece that gives it some context and explains its impact on following art movements. The text may be a little hard to read, but you'll come out of it with a deeper appreciation of art history or at least a few more fun facts you can use as conversation starters to impress at happy hour.  

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 7.38 x 1.75 x 7.38 inches
  • Pages: 640
  • Year of Publication: 2019

Terry O'Neill: The A-Z of Rock ‘N’ Roll

Terry O'Neill: The A-Z of Rock ‘N’ Roll

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who are interested in music, photography, and pop culture. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a photo book that focuses on unusual subjects or landscapes rather than people.

Terry O'Neill is regarded as one of the greats of photography. He spent some 50 years snapping the lives of Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross—you know, just a bunch of random musicians that you've probably never heard of. 

What makes Terry O'Neill’s photo book so compelling is the way that he documented both the public and private life of his subjects, allowing you to celebrate their on-stage triumphs while getting a glimpse of what their behind-the-scenes life was like. It also includes text from O'Neil that illustrates his intimate relationship with each artist and the moments that led up to each iconic snap. Music fans will be delighted to riff through this book and display its cover image of David Bowie on their coffee table. 

Price at time of publish: $80

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 11.25 x 1.27 x 12.79 inches
  • Pages: 300 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a book full of vivid images that celebrate maximalist fashion. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book that has a more relaxing color palette.

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle is the companion book to an exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design, which displayed nearly 100 of the extravagant and theatrical creations of costume maker extraordinaire Machine Dazzle. Machine Dazzle is one of the most sought-after designers for cabaret and drag performers, and this book is an ode to his maximalist approach to fashion, which involves lots of patterns, feathers, and glitter.

In between photographs of jaw-dropping costumes, you'll catch essays and letters from art historians, cultural writers, and performers that make Machine Dazzle's work come to life on each page and give you a glimpse into his world. 

Price at time of publish: $50

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 9.28 x 0.89 x 11.29 inches
  • Pages: 160 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry Story

 Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry Story

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a coffee table book with a specialized focus that’s eye-catching and educational.

Who it isn’t for: People who aren’t interested in fashion history or music.

This book charts the evolution of hip-hop jewelry from the '80s to today and explores the integral role that jewelry plays in hip-hop culture. In addition to showcasing pieces worn by rap legends like Run-DMC, Nas, and Slick Rick, it also highlights pioneering jewelers who created their iconic necklaces and chains and the newcomers who are turning ice into works of extravagant art.

Popular rappers like Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler, the Creator grace Ice Cold's pages as well, sharing how being iced out allows them to express themselves beyond their music. Besides tidbits of fashion history and remarkable photos, author Vikki Tobak also examines the larger cultural and historical forces behind each icy era. 

Price at time of publish: $100

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.73 x 13.7 inches
  • Pages: 388 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Hermès: Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Hermès: Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Walmart

Who it’s for: People who want a coffee table book that offers fun, light reading.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a coffee table book with photographs.

While you're probably familiar with their Birkin bag and silk scarves, you may not be aware of the rich history behind Hermès, which dates back to the mid-1800s. Hermès, now one of the leading luxury brands, started as a humble family business, and the book logs the many chapters in their history by sharing firsthand stories from the sales assistants, gardeners, silversmiths, and designers that led Hermès to become a brand that is widely beloved today. 

Clever illustrations showcase some of the most well-known designs from the Hermès archives and accompany brief and quirky anecdotes from the brand's history, like the disastrous elevator ride with Richard Nixon or the curious case of the life-sized rhino sculpture that vanished in Switzerland. It's a quick read, but it's a witty one, which is perfect for when you're in the mood for something lighthearted. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 6 x 0.75 x 8.55 inches
  • Pages: 96 
  • Year of Publication: 2022

Questions You Might Ask 

What makes a good coffee table book?

As Walton succinctly puts it, a good coffee table book is one “that’s got substance as well as style.” You want it to look stylish and match the color and design scheme of your home, but at the same time, you want it to appeal to your tastes. Walton also mentions that “books can offer subtle reminders to your interests, such as covers showcasing your favorite travel destinations,” so you may want to focus on books that inspire you or bring a personal touch to your home. 

How can you decorate with coffee table books in your home? 

“The wonderful thing about books is that you can stack and store them easily around your home,” Walton explains. She encourages thinking outside the box (or bookshelf in this case):  “They don’t have to live on a coffee table—or a bookshelf. They add visual interest to a console or chest of drawers. And if you’re short on storage or shelving, you can create bundles in corners of your home or on staircases.” For a final touch to your book stacks, Walton encourages “[placing] other decorative objects on top, such as a vase, hat, or lamp, too.”

If you’re intent on keeping your books on your coffee table, one method you can use to display them is to arrange them in small stacks by size and color. For example, you can stack all of your coffee table books with the largest book on the bottom to create a stylish book display, or you could group all books with similar color palettes together (or do both!) 

You can also use your book stacks as a platform and place other decor objects, like plants or candles, on top. Overflow books can be styled vertically between stacked columns as well to bring an eye-pleasing design to your living room. For books with covers you’re especially fond of, use a floating shelf to display them on your gallery wall

How many coffee table books should you have?

The answer to this question will depend on the size of your table and your decor needs. If you plan on stacking your books, a pile of two to four books will look best and be the most practical. You may also want to consider some extra books so you can mix up your display as you refresh your home’s decor. 

Walton says that “​​you might change them based on the seasons, a change in color palette, or renewed interest in gardening, for example.” In short, as long as you have the space, you can never have too many books for your home.  

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Jen Woo, a freelance design, lifestyle, and culture writer and content strategist with over 10 years of experience. To write this article, she thoroughly researched coffee table books to make her top picks and spoke to Natalie Walton, interior stylist, designer, and author, for her recommendations on how to shop and style coffee table books.

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