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- A good coffee table book is a decor piece that’s filled with stunning images and entertains guests.
- We compiled a list of 35 coffee table books that will make great gifts for everyone in your life.
Unlike the dog-eared, beaten-down tomes inhabiting the bookshelves of a home, coffee table books are a more refined species.
They have license over the prime tabletop real estate and are typically used as both an accent piece, a personal thesis statement, and entertainment for guests patiently waiting for their host to emerge from some other room.
Coffee table books have the visibility, exclusivity, and freedom to mostly consist of beautiful, mesmerizing photos. Below are 35 of the very best ones that work as host or hostess gifts, holiday gifts, or treat-yourself gifts to yourself.
The 35 best coffee table books to gift this year:
This book combines 800 artworks from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection and arranges them by thematic keywords (rather than dates or geography) for a deeper and more analytical presentation of art. There’s also a foldout, detachable timeline, and more than 100 essays for wider contexts of the works.
“The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion” by Antwaun Sargent
Curator and critic Antwaun Sargent discusses “The New Black Vanguard” and increasingly inclusive artistic communities in this book. Alongside Sargent’s essay are 15 artist portfolios from rising stars (Tyler Mitchell, Campbell Addy, and Nadine Ijewere, and more) and intergenerational conversations that simultaneously log the history of inclusion and exclusion in commercialized Black images — and the potential of a reimagined future.
“Architectural Digest at 100: A Century of Style” by Architectural Digest
AD editors dug into years of archives to present a century of iconic style. Flitting from past to present, the book showcases the personal spaces of dozens of celebrities, iconic work from top designers and architects, and beautiful images from some of history’s most notable photographers. Inside, you’ll find the aesthetic fingerprint of Barack and Michelle Obama alongside Truman Capote, Frank Lloyd Wright, India Mahdavi, Bill Cunningham, and more.
“Chinatown Pretty: Fashion and Wisdom from Chinatown’s Most Stylish Seniors” by Andria Lo and Valerie Luu
“Chinatown Pretty” documents the portraits and stories of fashionable seniors across six Chinatowns. It’s an extension of the popular eponymous blog and Instagram, and a celebration of Chinese-American culture, active old age, and expressive style.
“I Can Make You Feel Good” by Tyler Mitchell
In his first book, one of fashion’s most promising photographers reimagines the Black experience by portraying what a Black utopia could look like — full of ease and optimism and natural light.
As Mitchell wrote on Instagram in August 2020, “I often think about what white fun looks like and this notion that Black people can’t have the same… I feel an urgency to create a body of images where Black people are visualized as free, expressive, effortless, and sensitive.”
“Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave” by Joanna Gaines
“Homebody,” by New York Times bestselling author and HGTV star Joanna Gaines, is the perfect gift for the interior design aficionado in your life. Throughout the book, Joanna uses her 15+ years of experience as a designer to guide readers through creating a space they love with examples from images of her previously designed spaces. Accompanying the book is a removable design template so your giftee can apply the advice from the book into their space.
“Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey
If they have dreams of being a full-time creative, “Daily Rituals” will guide them through the routines and rituals of celebrated writers, philosophers, sculptors, and filmmakers throughout history. They’ll be delighted at how fascinating (and strange) the creative processes of artists they admire are. Features of note include Andy Warhol, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Pablo Picasso.
“Moonlight Screenplay Book” by Barry Jenkins
No film lover’s coffee table book collection is complete without a screenplay from their favorite film. The “Moonlight Screenplay Book” from A24, the film company behind many of our favorite films, includes beautiful stills from the movie, a foreword written by famed singer Frank Ocean, and a collection of the Moonlight actors Academy Award acceptance speeches.
“Art of Feminism: Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality, 1857-2017” by Helena Reckitt
A volume of key feminist artwork and text that helped define and propel the fight for equality spanning more than a century and a half of United States history, “Art of Feminism” covers everyone from Judy Chicago and Carrie Mae Weems to Sethembile Msezane and Andrea Bowers.
“The Book of Citrus Fruits” by J.C. Volkamer
Featuring 170 varieties of citrus fruits, this is a delightful series of hand-colored copperplates sure to bring a touch of charm to any room.
“West: The American Cowboy” by Anouk Masson Krantz
A portrait of the American west by award-winning photographer Anouk Masson Krantz, “West” takes us from wide-open pastoral landscapes to tailgating at the rodeo and everywhere in between.
“Ai Weiwei” by Hans Werner Holzwarth
Exploring each period of Ai Weiwei’s work leading up to his release from custody, this is the almost definitive catalog of his works.
“Among Others: Blackness at MoMA” by Darby English
The Museum of Modern Art is among the first to admit its uneven relationship with Black artists, and “Among Others” is a reflection, and an investigation, confronting that truth through essays and some of the best artwork ever produced.
“Great Women Artists” by Phaidon
Great Women Artists offers a definitive collection of more than 400 compelling works spanning half a millennium of art by some of history’s most overlooked titans of all mediums of art, from the canvas to the lens. Another book for any and every coffee table or bookshelf.
“The Wes Anderson Collection” by Matt Zoller Seitz
A fun, whimsical book to brighten up any day or collection, but something the cinema nut on your list probably shouldn’t go another year without.
“Contact High, A Visual History of Hop-Hop” by Vikki Tobak
Shining a spotlight not only on the greats of the genre of hip-hop but those who photographed them, “Contact High” is a chronological feature of nearly 40 years of hip hop history told through contact sheets and is an imperative presence on the coffee table or bookshelf of every pop-music fanatic.
“1000 Record Covers” by Michael Ochs
Record covers are a unique time capsule of our life and times, and this coffee table book curates 1,000 that address such topics as love, life, death, fashion, and rebellion — serving as a symbol for particular times in our own lives, as well as in our collective history.
“Zaha Hadid: Complete Works 1979-Today” by Philip Jodidio
They said her visions and designs were impossible to build, but they were wrong. Later in her life, Hadid’s works came to life. From the Port House in Antwerp to an airport terminal in Beijing, here’s an immortal collection to prove her critics wrong.
“Photography: The Definitive Visual History” by Tom Ang
200 years of photographs and the photographers behind them, written by broadcaster, photographer, and writer Tom Ang, one of history’s most prolific photographers in his own right.
“Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016” by Annie Leibovitz
Leibovitz is one of the most influential photographers of our time and has covered some of the most recognizable and distinguished figures of the contemporary age. Here we are treated to a compilation of Leibovitz’s portraits from 2005 – 2016 (a follow-up to “Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, 1970-1990”) that carry her characteristic wit, style, and ability to humanize her subjects.
“Poolside with Slim Aarons” by Slim Aarons
Slim Aarons is the ultimate photographer when it comes to documenting the lives of glitterati, and where better to snoop on this walk of life than the pool? From brunches to cocktail parties, “Poolside with Slim Aarons” features the who’s who of the celebrity world, sure, but front and center throughout are some of the most gloriously sculpted and positioned pools on the face of the earth.
“Humans of New York: Stories” by Brandon Stanton
Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” series is one of the most powerful photographic campaigns to be conducted in the 21st century, leveraging the intimacy of random human-to-human connection and the powerful community of social media. Stanton’s 2015 #1 New York Times bestseller is a collection of his intriguing photographs and the stories that accompanied them, altogether creating a slice-of-life summary of the pain and joy of living.
“Panda Love: The Secret Lives of Pandas” by Ami Vitale
Vitale is an American photojournalist and documentary filmmaker. Her first book, “Panda Love,” is an intimate portrait of China’s giant pandas: tumbling out of baskets, playing hide and seek with caregivers, and exploring forests and preserves. The images are a sweet, tangible side of conservation, and a unique gift thanks to Vitale’s unprecedented access.
“Living in the Desert” by Phaidon
This book is deeply satisfying for anyone interested in architecture, the desert, or contemporary homes. It showcases unique residences across the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, and beyond, illustrating the ways in which they interact with the sensitive, arid desert land. Picture blue water, long-fingered shadows of Yucca leaves at midday, and low homes disappearing into the red dirt.
“The Missoni Family Cookbook” by Francesco Maccapani Missoni
The Missoni family is best known for its bright knitwear, but it’s also known for entertaining, including hosting well-coveted Fashion Week dinner parties. This aptly colorful cookbook is curated by Francesco Maccapani Missoni, son of Angela Missoni, and details the family’s favorite delicious recipes. It’s the perfect mix of fashion and food.
“What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” by Randall Munroe
From the creator of a hugely popular webcomic dealing with science, technology, language, and love, comes hilarious and informative answers to questions you probably never thought to ask: “How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?” or “If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?”
“Born to Ice” by Paul Nicklen
Paul Nicklen is an acclaimed Canadian photographer, filmmaker, marine biologist, and conservationist known especially for his work in and deep understanding of the Polar Regions. He’s a frequent contributor to National Geographic and has won the BBC Wildlife Photographer award of the year as well as the prestigious World Press Photo award for photojournalism.
Nicklen’s photos reflect a reverence for creatures — human and animal — in isolated or endangered environments, and “Born to Ice” combines Nicklen’s favorite photos of a decades-long career into one powerful, remarkable book.
“Havana: Split Seconds” by Abe Kogan
In 2015, before American travel bans loosened dramatically, Abe Kogan immortalized an isolated island on the brink of change. In place of postcard pictures of tropical beaches, Kogan depicts the real Havana, Cuba through black-and-white photos of Habaneros’ everyday life — neighbors gossiping over balconies and leaning in the doorways of once-glorious buildings that have fallen into ruin. Kogan’s “Split Seconds” manages to create a sense of permanence and portension.
“Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany” by Jane Mount
Jane Mount is an illustrator best known for the colorful book spines of notable works. “Bibliophile” is Mount’s love letter to all things bookish, including tours of the world’s best bookstores, quizzes to test book knowledge, and samplings of famous fictional meals — all illustrated in Mount’s characteristically fun, bright style.
“Tom Ford” by Tom Ford
Tom Ford is one of fashion’s greatest living icons. He’s the man whose designs ushered in Gucci’s stunning revitalization, increasing its sales tenfold. “Tom Ford” is a complete catalog of Ford’s design work for both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent from 1994 to 2004, detailing his dance with sensuality and style.
“Writers and Their Cats” by Alison Nastasi
Gloria Steinem called cats “a writer’s most logical and agreeable companion” — and as a consequence, the six-toed descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cat still prowl his past home and museum in Florida. This book celebrates the 45 great authors who have loved cats, including Mark Twain, Alice Walker, and Haruki Murakami.
“Stanley Kubrick Photographs: Through a Different Lens” by Luc Sante
Before using his unique perspective to create film classics like “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick was working as a photographer for Look magazine. “Through a Different Lens” is curated by noted photography critic Luc Sante, and encapsulates Kubrick’s burgeoning creative genius through a “different lens” before meeting its famous catalyst in cinema.
“National Geographic Spectacle: Rare and Astonishing Photographs” by National Geographic
National Geographic’s collection of rare photos depicts the earth’s natural wonders and hard-to-reach spots, covering the aurora borealis and wildebeest migrations to the world’s largest library.
“The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait” by Frida Kahlo
“The Diary of Friday Kahlo” is a copy of the artist’s journal, which she kept during the last 10 years of her life. Along with 70 watercolor illustrations are Kahlo’s poems, personal thoughts, and dreams. It’s an especially thoughtful gift for feminists and art aficionados.
“The New York Times Explorer: Beaches, Islands, & Coasts” by Barbara Ireland
The New York Times’ “Explorer” books are based on the publication’s distinguished travel journalism, proving new insight, unique tips, and practical knowledge to make beach, island, and coastal trips more memorable.