More than wall art or furniture, a coffee table book presents an opportunity to express something of yourself in your decor. And, let’s face it, a coffee table book is more decor than actual literature. After all, how it’s meant to be used is right in the name — placed on a coffee table to be casually admired and skimmed through.
A coffee table book is something for you and your guests to enjoy, but it’s also a great way to showcase your interests. Do you love a particular fashion designer or filmmaker? There’s probably a coffee table book for that. Are you interested in art and interiors? There are a lot of coffee table books for that. Or do your tastes lean more enigmatic and esoteric? There are books about brutalist Soviet-era bus stops, typefaces, and even public bathroom hand dryers. Basically, there’s a book for every taste and interest.
But while coffee table books are generally seen as heavy on visuals and light on information, there are actually a surprising number of coffee table books that are thoroughly detailed and packed with research, in addition to tasteful photographs and pleasing pictures. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite coffee table books that will enliven your space.
Plant Magick. The Library of Esoterica
A gorgeous, oversized coffee table book, Plant Magick features over 400 images that explore the historical roots of plants in myth and magickal practices, from Ancient Egyptian stonework to Victorian botanical art to modern plant art. If this one intrigues you, don’t miss the rest of Taschen’s ‘Library of Esoterica’ series.
The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
There are a lot of coffee table books for Marvel fans out there, from stunning artist editions of the comics to anatomy books, but The Story of Marvel Studios is the quintessential tome for fans of the MCU. Clocking in at 512 pages, this book is the first-ever, fully authorized, all-access history of Marvel Studios’ creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as told by the producers, writers, directors, concept artists, VFX artists, cast, and crew who brought it to life.
Parks United States National Park Service Maps from the Collection of Brian Kelley /anglais
The Ken Burns series about America’s National Parks is subtitled “America’s Best Idea.” Suffice it to say America’s parks are beloved, and rightly so. This book by Brian Kelley compiles photos, maps, and posters from the National Park System. The beautifully minimalist cover features a yellow background with the title across the cover.
Soviet Bus Stops
Soviet Bus Stops does pretty much what it says on the tin, so to speak. Throughout 192 color pages, the photographer Christopher Herwig chronicles the austere yet fascinating architecture of Soviet-era bus stops. It’s a beautiful reflection of the fact that design can come from anywhere, even the most seemingly mundane of places.
The New Black West: Photographs from America’s Only Touring Black Rodeo
For history buffs and fans of the Western cowboy aesthetic, The New Black West is a love letter to Black rodeo culture from photographer Gabriela Hasbun. This beautiful coffee table book features photographs of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, America’s only touring Black rodeo, and highlights interviews with members of the vibrant community dedicated to continuing the legacy.
Can’t afford the clothes? Yeah, neither can we. This coffee table book is the next best thing. The large size and beautifully minimalist cover make it a great addition to modernist and monochrome decor, and it showcases the designer’s work and unique philosophy over the book’s 416 pages.
50 Years of Rolling Stone: The Music, Politics and People that Shaped Our Culture
Maybe we’re a little biased because they’re SPY’s sister site, but there’s no denying the outsized impact of Rolling Stone on pop culture and music reporting. This coffee table book compiles color photos from covers and photoshoots, as well as interviews and decade-by-decade histories over RS’s incredible half-century run.
Jeff Staple: Not Just Sneakers
This is the absolute best coffee table book for sneakerheads. Jeff Staple is a legend in the sneaker business, known for his work with Nike and Hypebeast; this book chronicles the last twenty-five years of his iconic streetwear designs. This book is a gorgeous historical reference to the rise of streetwear, featuring archival sketches, magazine covers, and Hiroshi Fujiwara and Futura contributions.
The Wes Anderson Collection
This New York Times bestselling overview of Wes Anderson’s filmography features previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photos, artwork, and ephemera. In a hardcover book-length conversation, writer and director Wes Anderson guides movie critic Matt Zoller Seitz through Anderson’s life and career. The result is a meticulously designed coffee table book that captures and reflects the spirit of Wes Anderson’s movies: melancholy, playful, wise, and wonderfully aesthetic.
HR Giger. 40th Ed.
Undoubtedly, you’ve seen Swiss artist HR Giger’s work whether you realized it or not. If you’ve ever watched Alien, Species, Poltergeist, or Prometheus, then you’ve encountered this surrealist’s work. With this multi-lingual book, you enter Giger’s haunting and psychedelic world as you dive deep into the sculptures, paintings, and designs that made him one of the most iconic contemporary artists of our time.
Eames: Beautiful Details
Eames: Beautiful Details celebrates the seamlessness and fluidity in which Charles and Ray Eames operated as both a husband and wife team and as iconic furniture designers unrestricted by traditionally professional boundaries. Unlike any other book previously published about Charles and Ray Eames, this unique monograph is a visual celebration of their work and life and was created in true collaboration with Charles’s grandson, Eames Demetrios, and other members of the Eames family.
Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats [A Baking Book]
The Swedish concept of a coffee break is something we can all learn a lot from, and this illustrated cookbook shares everything we need to know about the tradition of Fika. This twice-daily coffee break is a big part of Swedish culture, and in this coffee table book, you can find recipes for traditional baked goods, an explainer on coffee culture, and more.
Atlas of Interior Design
This stylish interior design coffee table book features more than 400 of the most inspirational residential rooms from the past eight decades. Perfect for DIY’ers looking for inspiration, or anyone with a keen eye for interior design, this die-cut hardcover by itself will look fabulous on any bookshelf, credenza, or bathroom.
Dalí. Les dîners de Gala
This is one of the most gorgeous culinary books we’ve ever seen, with a stunning gold jacket, Dali. Les Diners de Gala explores the exotic flavors and elaborate imaginings behind the legendary surrealist dinner parties of Salvador and Gala Dalí. This book features recipes from leading Paris restaurants, a special section on aphrodisia, and bespoke illustrations from Dalí himself.
<em>The National Baseball Hall of Fame Book</em>
A perfect gift idea for the baseball fan in your life, this coffee table book is a collection of memorabilia in a leather-bound. Even the biggest baseball fan you know will learn something from this collection of stats, biographies, and unique photographs.
The Future Is Fungi: How Fungi Feed Us, Heal Us, and Save Our World
You don’t have to be a scientist or a forager to appreciate this book on the hidden kingdom of nature’s architects. The Future is Fungi features beautiful photographs, 3D art, and tips on how to immerse yourself in the world of fungi.
Moon Bath: Bathing Rituals and Recipes for Relaxation and Vitality
Moon Bath Book is a beautiful book, but it also has a lot of beauty on the inside, sharing a variety of bathing rituals related to self-care and the moon cycle. Perfect for everyone from modern mystics to wellness enthusiasts.
This is the essential coffee table book for the iconic brand, Supreme, the downtown New York skate shop that transformed itself into a global street fashion powerhouse. Supreme—the book—looks back on more than two decades of the creations, stories, and convention-defying attitude that are uniquely Supreme.