50 Most Beautiful and Brilliant Books for Your Coffee Table

While most books are valued for their insightful content, educational value, storylines and characters, there are some that can also be admired for sheer attractiveness, whether it’s found in design, photographs or drawings. Here are 50 books that will not only keep you entertained, but are also simply a joy to see sitting on your coffee table each day.

Fashion and Interior Design

Show off your sense of style with these selections.

  1. Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue by by Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber, Grace Coddington, and Mario Testino: In this book you’ll be able to see some of the cutting-edge photography and fashion that has shaped Vogue over the past 30 years.
  2. The World in Vogue: People, Parties, Places by Hamish Bowles: If simple fashion photography isn’t enough for you, in this book you’ll get that and more with loads of photos of celebs for the magazine.
  3. Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World’s Most Colorful Despots by Peter York: See what some of the world’s most infamous men used their ill-gotten gains to purchase for their clothing and their decor.
  4. Hue by Kelly Wearstler: Designer Kelly Wearstler shares photos of her own home and others she has designed in this beautiful design tome.
  5. Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott: Few designers invoke classic sophistication like Chanel, and you can see photos of years of fashion in this book.

Music

Whether you love punk, jazz, rock or all of the above, these books will help you celebrate it.

  1. The Jazz Loft Project by Sam Stephenson: Get a window into some of the best known jazz musicians in the world through the essays and photographs collected in this book.
  2. Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present by Gail Buckland: See your favorite rock and roll stars photographed in vivid color through the over 300 photographs in this book by Gail Buckland.
  3. The Music Book by Mark Seliger: This book is an extensive collection of photographs and information about some of the biggest names in music over the past several decades.
  4. The Encyclopedia of Punk by Brian Cogan: Check out this book for information and great photographs about the punk scene of the 70′s.
  5. According to the Rolling Stones by The Rolling Stones: If you’re a Rolling Stones fan, there’s no reasons why you shouldn’t pick up and display this book, with essays from the band and music industry insiders to augment the numerous photographs included.

Maps and History

Dive into the past and explore the world through these great coffee table books.

  1. Lincoln, Life-Size by Philip Kunhardt III, Peter Kunhardt and Peter Kunhardt Jr.: We often take the face of Lincoln for granted, but this coffee table book forces you to really look at Lincoln up close.
  2. Oxford Atlas of the World, Sixteenth Edition: Get the updated version of this atlas and use it to see photos, stats and information from every corner of the globe.
  3. Scrapbooks: An American History by Jessica Helfand: Even today scrapbooks are a big deal, but what did they mean to people in the past and what can they tell us about their lives? This book offers a look back at these records, with beautiful color photos to illustrate.
  4. World War II: History’s Greatest Conflict in Pictures by Richard B. Stolley: This book brings together a number of iconic and intriguing pictures from this worldwide conflict.
  5. Dorothea Lange: Photographs of a Lifetime by Robert Coles: Take a look back at the Great Depression and the years following it, through the amazing work of Lange catalogued in this book.
  6. King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman: The pages of this book are an amazing way to learn more about the life and work of this civil rights leader.

Natural World

These books will help you see the beauty of our planet, from the smallest particles to its most complex creatures.

  1. Earth from Above by Yann Arthus-Bertrand: Get a whole new perspective on Earth in these aerial photographs that are at once familiar and strange.
  2. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: The Complete Plates in Colour, 1734-1765 by Albertus Seba: While it might cost you a pretty penny to get your hands on a copy of this book, it will be well worth it, with hundreds of beautiful illustrations of natural and not so natural creatures alike.
  3. Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World by Lance Grande and Allison Augustyn: If you find yourself constantly drawn to shiny things, then you’ll appreciate the beautiful photographs of gems and minerals this book includes.
  4. The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray, photographs by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann: Get down to the atomic scale with these amazing photographs that document our elemental world.
  5. Galápagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy by Tui de Roy: Through this book you’ll be able to not only learn a bit about evolution but also see the unique life that calls the Galapagos Islands home.
  6. Planet Ape by Desmond Morris and Steve Parker: In this book you’ll get an up-close and personal look at our closest relatives, some of whom are heading quickly towards extinction.

Art

Show off your love of photography and art with these books.

  1. Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini: This strange and compelling book isn’t easy to find, but if you do, you’ll find it a work of art in itself.
  2. Annie Leibovitz: At Work by Annie Leibovitz: See some well-known celebrity faces in this collection of Leibovitz’s work.
  3. Performance: Richard Avedon by John Lahr, Andre Gregory, Mike Nichols, and Twyla Tharp: In this book you’ll see the fashion and celebrity photography that made Avedon such a well-known name.
  4. Wall and Piece by Banksy: Stay hip by putting this book by British graffiti artist Banksky on your coffee table.
  5. Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary: If you’re looking for a good general art book, try this photo-filled book. It’s heavy, but the artwork should keep you picking it up time and time again.
  6. The Ultimate Picasso by Brigitte Leal, Christine Piot, and Marie-Laure Bernadac: Learn more about the world’s most famous artist with this book that showcases his life and his work.

Travel

These books feature beautiful photos from around the world.

  1. Heart of the Great Alone by David Hempleman-Adams, Emma Stuart and Sophie Gordon: Most of us will likely never take an expedition to the Antarctic, but with this book on your coffee table, you won’t need to.
  2. The Book of Exploration by Ray Howgego: Learn more about some of history’s greatest expeditions around the world in this book.
  3. Africa by Sebastiao Salgado: While we often think of Africa for its bright colors, this book documents it in stunnning black and white.
  4. America the Beautiful: A Photographic Journey, Coast to Coast – and Beyond: See the beauty that America has to offer in this fantastic collection of photographs from Life Magazine.
  5. Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic: Whether you’re planning a trip of your own or just want to do a little armchair traveling, this book is a beautiful addition to your library.

Technology

From motorcycles to space shuttles, display your fascination with technology through these books.

  1. Superbikes of the Seventies by Roland Brown: See some of the most souped up and fastest motorcycles from the seventies in this book.
  2. No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale by Felice C. Frankel and George M. Whitesides: Most of us aren’t nano-scientists, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the photographs in this book of the super small world of the future.
  3. Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers by John Alderman with Photographs by Mark Richards: Get your geek on with the excellent photographs in this book that show off the evolution of the computer over decades.
  4. Hubble: Imaging Space and Time by David Devorkin and Robert W. Smith: If you’ve never seen the photographs sent back by the Hubble telescope, then you need to see this book with dozens of beautiful images of our own galaxy and beyond.
  5. Apollo: Through the Eyes of the Astronauts by Robert Jacobs, Michael Cabbage, Stephen Hawking, and Lucy Hawking: See the history of space exploration through the eyes of those who did it in this amazing book.

Location Specific

Whether you’re a native or just have a great affection, these cities have never been more compelling than when in these books.

  1. Invisible New York by Stanley Greenberg: Take a peek at parts of New York even natives likely haven’t seen in this great coffee table book.
  2. Houston Deco by Jim Parsons and David Bush: Those who love Art Deco might not know how much of it exists in Houston, but this book documents it beautifully.
  3. Chicago Then and Now by Elizabeth McNulty: Chicago has been many things in its past, from the home of the first skyscrapers to a mobster’s haven, and this book shows how it has changed over the years.

Sports

These books are a great way to learn about and showcase sports.

  1. Baseball Americana: Treasures From the Library of Congress by Harry Zatz, Frank Ceresi, Wilson McBee and Susan Reyburn: This book is a must for fans of baseball, bringing together the best material from the archives at the LOC to one colorful and interesting book.
  2. Sports Illustrated: Athlete by Walter Iooss: Famed sports photographer Iooss showcases some of his best and most beautiful photographs in this collection.
  3. Knockout, The Art of Boxing by Ken Regan: Boxing fans will appreciate this book that brings together the amazing photographs Regan captured of greats like Ali and Clay.
  4. Sportscape: The Evolution of Sports Photography by Paul Wombell: This book will take you through the history of sports photography from 1900 to the present.

Miscellaneous

From food around the world to comic books, you’ll find a wide range of coffee table books here.

  1. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel: Check out this coffee table book to see what people from all over the world will be having for lunch or dinner tonight.
  2. With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars by Jonathan Kellerman: Those who can’t seem to get enough of guitars will appreciate the beautiful photographs of some of the best models ever made that this book showcases.
  3. The DC Vault by Martin Pasko: Comic book fanatics should add this book full of DC’s most famous characters to their coffee tables.
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator by Christina Scull, Wayne G. Hammond, and J.R.R. Tolkien: Fantasy enthusiasts will appreciate this book, an informative source of history on the author as well as a beautiful collection of illustrations for the books.
  5. Advertising in America: The First Two Hundred Years by Charles A. Goodrum and Helen Dalrymple: Whether you’ve been inspired by Mad Men or just love good design, this book collects some great examples of advertising.

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