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Nothing says “I read and care about decor” like a nice stack of coffee table books in your living space. But just like their owners, the best coffee table books are more than a pretty face. In order to stack up (pun intended), they’ve got to have a cover that’s worthy of gracing the most well-designed living room table as well as the kind of photography and writing inside to make it worth picking up and reading, too. If you can’t curl up with it and a cup of coffee, tea or your tipple of choice, it doesn’t make our list of favorites. After all, books are made to be read.
While many coffee-table books do feature writing about architecture and design, they span the gamut of subject matter and topics. That’s what makes them so perfect for gifting: A book on photography, food, art or virtually any topic your recipient likes to read about makes a great, timeless gift for any occasion. We rounded up a few of our favorites to give you plenty of options for every taste. Package it with one of the best books of 2021 or one of our feel-good book club selections and you’ve got a book-lovers dream.
Women: The National Geographic Image Collection
With stunning portraits and inspiring testimonies from some of the most powerful and amazing women in the world, this is the perfect book for any #girlboss or the people who love them. With more than 400 photographs and interviews with women like Laura Bush and Gloria Allred, it’s a must-have for every household.
Sneaker Freaker. The Ultimate Sneaker Book
For the kicks collector in your life, this drool-worthy book gathers up 15 years of street style history, factoids and of course, gorgeous photographs of sneakers over the last 15 years. Even if you don’t collect sneakers, this book might inspire you to start.
Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
Travel the weird, wonderful and most obscure corners of the world right from your couch with this guide to curious and unusual destinations. If you’re not booking tickets somewhere by the last page, you’re made of stronger stuff than we are.
Buckingham Palace: The Interiors
For those who swoon over everything related to the royal family, get your fainting couch ready for this tour of the royal residence. Designer and artist Ashley Hicks will guide you through every glorious room with descriptions and photographs that make you feel like you’re there.
Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists
Yes, it’s a cookbook. But it’s also beautiful enough that you might catch yourself (or intentionally sit down to) just page through admiring the gorgeous art and thoughtful interviews with food experts like Alice Waters and Tauba Auerbach.
RELATED: The 46 Cookbooks of All Time to Buy for Friends and Family
Colorstrology: What Your Birthday Color Says about You
For fans of astrology, home decor and color theory, this vibrant book will offer insights into your life and relationships you never knew you needed. It also comes with swatches, so you don’t have to leave its lessons on the table.
The Japanese Garden
If the color story on this cover doesn’t immediately make you exhale deeply, the 100+ gardens inside will. With a detailed exploration of the art and science of Japanese gardens, this is the perfect book for gardeners, architecture enthusiasts and art lovers of all stripes.
Houseplants and Hot Sauce: A Seek-and-Find Book for Grown-Ups
Those of us who spent hours with Where’s Waldo and I Spy books as kids will be delighted to discover this gorgeous adult version. Not only does it look whimsical on your table, it’s also a great tool to de-stress after a long day.
The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia
Pour a glass of your favorite wine and crack open this oenophile’s dream. It’s a definitive tome on just about everything you might want to know about wine with more than 400 photographs to guide you through it. We’ll drink to that.
A Great Party: Designing the Perfect Celebration
Plan for your next soiree with this beautiful guide to entertaining by Bryan Rafanelli, a wedding planner who put together events like Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and many Obama White House gatherings. Even if yours aren’t quite so high-profile, you’ll definitely find inspiration here.
Through intimate portraits of trans-masculine men across the United States, this book challenges our conventional understanding of what boyhood looks like, while inviting the reader into the beautiful life experiences of the people in its pages.
RELATED: 40 Fantastic LGBTQ+ Books
Plantopedia: The Definitive Guide to Houseplants
If you also spend way too much time scrutinizing your plants to figure out why this one’s drooping and that one’s leaves are turning brown, you need this book that’s as pretty as it is useful. At least then you’ll know why your money plant looks a little broke.
RELATED: 30 Gorgeous Indoor Plants That Are Almost Impossible to Kill
Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies
Movie buffs can get ideas for what to watch next with this colorful atlas of 35 maps of the best films out there. If you’re the sort of person who likes to visualize the places characters inhabit, this is your dream book.
Follow Your Bliss: Wisdom from Inspiring Women to Help You Find Purpose and Joy
Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles
Anyone who ever got in hot water for doodling on the sides of their test papers needs this collection of drawings from some of our most influential cultural figures. It’s got sketches and scribbles from the likes of Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Clara Barton, proving that doodlers might be onto something.
1,000 Perfect Weekends: Great Getaways Around the Globe
Even if you’re spending yours on the couch or working through chores, flipping through this collection of locales and travel ideas will transport you somewhere idyllic. It’s packed full of destinations you can experience within 36-72 hours, so get that weekender ready.
Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live
When hygge season demands you get cozy, cuddle up with the tranquil photographs of upstate New York interiors. Ranging from modern to elegant to deliciously quirky, it’s chock full of design inspiration no matter the size of your space.
Le Corbuffet: Edible Art and Design Classics
Combine your love of food and design into one gorgeous package with this coffee table cookbook. Artist and architectural historian Esther Choi uses food to riff off master works by famous architects and artists, in a playful collection that will be sure to spark conversation.
Great Women Artists
Featuring more than 400 artists from 50 countries and spanning 500 years, this is the definitive collection of creativity from women throughout the ages. Perfect for both longtime art appreciators and those just getting into it, you’re almost guaranteed to find a new favorite artist in these pages.
Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful
Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to spread the slogan, “Black Is Beautiful” through the late 1950s and 1960s, and now you can page through his remarkable work in one stunning monograph.
Accidentally Wes Anderson
Fans of the iconic filmmaker, explore the striking destinations that captured his imagination in this colorful travelogue. It spans the globe with offbeat discoveries and fresh takes on attractions to help spark your own travel aspirations.
Chinatown Pretty: Fashion and Wisdom from Chinatown’s Most Stylish Seniors
Through interviews and photographs of stylish pòh pohs (grandmas) and gùng gungs (grandpas) in New York City, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Vancouver Chinatowns, this book offers both style inspiration and sage advice. If you can’t call your own grandparents, this book is the next best thing.
In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean
Grab a snack before paging through this stylish and educational cookbook that features recipes and interviews with grandmothers from eight African countries. Whether you try your hand at the 75 recipes or just immerse yourself in their stories, it’s a wonderful addition to any table.
Elements of Family Style: Elegant Spaces for Everyday Life
Just because your home is littered with more toys than tastefully appointed knickknacks doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up on style until the college years arrive. Let design expert Erin Gates guide you through creating a beautiful (but durable) home aesthetic.
The Very Embarrassing Book of Dad Jokes: Because Your Dad Thinks He’s Hilarious
Warning: Purchasing this book for the dad in your life may result in even more eye-rolling humor. But it’ll be worth it to see him chuckle at the gems inside.
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