When I was a kid, I assumed that anyone who had a stack of pretty coffee table books sitting in their home was cool AF. I mean, these people had books filled with photos that I could look at while all of the adults talked about adult things. It had me in awe. I’d think to myself, “I want to be like them one day.”
These days, I’m a bona fide adult with a few of these books of my own—and while the specific reasons I think they’re cool are now slightly more mature than they were when I was a kid, you can still pretty much convince me that someone’s awesome simply by showing me their coffee table books. This special subset of the literary universe gives book lovers the opportunity to show off their passions and personality, can make for a great conversation starter, and gives guests something to peruse if they’re feeling bored or socially awkward. (Or maybe that’s just me.)
If you’re in the market for new coffee table books to make your home feel extra cozy, and you don’t want something that feels like your mama’s coffee table book, go for one of these options.
Featured image: @makenamedia via Twenty20
How to Make a House a Home
Ariel Kaye is the founder and CEO of uber-trendy lifestyle brand Parachute, and in her first book, she brings her fresh perspective on all things home to a coffee table near you. How to Make a House a Home offers details about everything from color palettes and bedding to houseplants and staying organized. You’ll get tons of ideas to help you make your space look its best—and having this beautiful book around won’t hurt the aesthetic, either.
Small Garden Style
Isa Hendry Eaton
You know those pretty pictures you see all over your Instagram feed of teeny, tiny gardens and indoor potted plants? Do they make you want to work on your own green thumb so you can have some plant babies of your own (and post photos of them)? Thanks to Small Garden Style, you can—and this stylish guide gives you resources beyond the basics, including a style quiz and inspo for even the smallest of gardens.
Sure, this beautiful coffee table book is meant to be read in the comfort of your own home, but you’ll only need to open it and skim through a few pages to feel as though you’ve been all over the world. Author Nastasia Yakoub was once a nurse, but she’s turned her passion for travel into a full-time career as an entrepreneur and photographer. She shares that journey (plus a whole lot of gorgeous photos) in Dame Traveler.
Patterns of India
While we’re going around the world through books, you should also check out Patterns of India, in which author and photographer Christine Chitnis takes reader and armchair travelers on a visual expedition to colorful Rajasthan, Indian. You’ll find more than 200 photographs throughout the book, each one more stunningly beautiful than the last. Prepare to add Rajasthan to your travel bucket list!
Women Artists A to Z
With this coffee table book added to your collection, you’ll need to look no further than, well, your coffee table for creative inspiration. Women Artists A to Z features an incredible alphabet of women who made their mark in the artistic world. Thanks to its lush illustrations, it’s the perfect book for you or your guests to casually page through, but readers will also walk away with newfound knowledge about artists from Agnes Martin to Helen Zughaib.
The Penguin Classics Book
Penguin Classics are classics for a reason, and this new, comprehensive guide to their history gives them their well-deserved moment in the proverbial spotlight. The Penguin Classics Book takes a deep dive into the 500 authors, 1,200 books, and 4,000 years of literature that have found their place in the Penguin Classics universe over the decades. Oh, and did I mention that it’s clothbound? That makes it extra special.
The Secret Lives of Color
Kassia St Clair
Most of us are used to seeing colors around us all the time… but most of us also know little to nothing about what those colors actually mean and how they’ve impacted history. In The Secret Lives of Color, color-obsessed Kassia St. Clair seeks to change that! The book is chock full of stories about 75 unique shades, dyes, and hues. Politics, art, war, fashion—color has played a role in all of it and more.
If the absolutely delicious-looking (and beautifully illustrated) slice of cake on the cover of this book isn’t enough to entice you to pick it up, you should also know that it contains illustrations of even more scrumptious confections, along with 17 cake recipes for you to try in your own home. Open Cake and be prepared for a walk down memory lane to your sweetest moments of food-related nostalgia.
Life from Above
Fans of nature documentaries will jump at the chance to have this book grace their coffee tables. Life from Above features a whopping 200 incredible images, each one taken with an advanced satellite and capturing Earth’s weather patterns and natural wonders in staggering detail. You’ll see everything from tulip fields in Holland to the swirl of a plankton super bloom—a mind-blowing range that will remind you what a spectacular planet we call home.
Bill Cunningham: On the Street
New York Times
In the 1970s, New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham began using his camera to document life in New York City and Paris. As a whole, his body of work tells the story of several decades of people and changing cultures in two of the world’s most glamorous, storied cities. Now, many of his best photos—some of which have never been seen before—are available in a bound collection, compiled alongside essays that reveal more about the photographer and his influences.
You may not be used to grouping cookbooks with coffee table books… but when they’re as beautiful and unique as this one, it’s a no brainer. Alpine Cooking is a stunningly photographed cookbook that takes readers and home chefs alike into the Alps, where they’ll be treated to a quirky mix of recipes like fondue brioche, strudel, speck dumplings, and schnitzel. Looking for further proof that this coffee table book is totally dope? It was named one of the best cookbooks of the year by The New York Times Book Review in 2019!
Vogue Living: Country, City, Coast
No one does glamour quite like Vogue—and they prove they’re the best of the best in Vogue Living: Country, City, Coast. You’ll find stunning photos of Tory Burch’s Southampton home, Cindy Crawford’s Canadian cabin, Stella McCartney’s garden, and so much more. It’s the perfect book to have on hand any time you want to dream big dreams of special spaces.
The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt
Not familiar with Alexander Von Humboldt? No worries. You’ll learn all about this explorer and scientist in the illustrated pages of this graphic retelling of his adventures. The book will give you a newfound appreciation for all that he discovered and predicted, which you’ll be ready to share with everyone you meet!