Coffee Table Books

love coffee table books. I really do. But I can never bring myself to buy any because (1) they’re often so expensive and (2) they’re not terribly practical. They’re often awkwardly big so(/because?) you don’t really just read them through – they’re usually intended to be thumbed through in small doses. Not to mention, (3) I don’t have a coffee table (or any good place!) to display them. I don’t like to add coffee table books to my Goodreads TBR because they’re more of “wishlist/maybe never” items. So I’ll put my coffee table wishlist here (maybe I’ll make it a semi-regular instalment because I have several). The ones I’ve chosen to feature today are affordable, books that I’d actually read through and books that I am actually planning to get my hands on…eventually.


1) Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

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Very simple concept: can you find Momo (the dog) in these beautiful photographed landscapes? A Where’s Wally of sorts. Each photo is so beautifully choreographed and Momo acts as a little ‘easter egg’ for you to find. It makes the landscapes that tiny bit more interactive and encourages you to really spend time to look at them thoroughly rather than just glance over them.


2) My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt

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Lisa Hanawalt is sort of like a comedian on paper. She draws those funny concepts you verbalise in stupid conversations with friends and the imagery is often hilarious (or at least humorously odd). Her images are laced with silliness and sarcasm, and I imagine this book would be a really great conversation starter.


3) Stories in the Stars: An Atlas of Constellations by Susanna Hislop

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I have always loved astronomy, since I was very young. This is a book I can imagine poring over, but not in the same way you would a novel. It doesn’t necessarily need to be read linearly. This is the type of non-fiction that I tend to think of primarily as a reference book – like a textbook – where you can dip in and out in any order when you have a quiet, introspective moment. Although I don’t much care for astrology, I feel humbled by the majesty of space and the thought of ancient civilisations looking up to the night sky and trying to find their myths and themselves in the stars, in the universe.


4) How To Be Happy by Eleanor Davis

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Eleanor Davis is another amazing illustrator whose work I am truly enamoured with. She is also witty and the feminist voice in her work is strong (like Lisa Hanawalt’s). However, where Hanawalt’s work is unabashedly silly, Davis’ work often merges lewd and elegant so perfectly it makes you double take then want to keep looking. It has a way of erasing all embarrassment from the most (ostensibly) rude of concepts. It reveals sexuality (not just between cis-men and cis-women) to be nothing less or more than a human expression of love in a very grounded, earthy way. Her work can be silly too…but in its silliness there are obviously very real, very serious conversations taking place. How to be Happy would be a great coffee table book to beautifully slide into animated, important discussion. Her work is rich with raw emotion and graceful playfulness and experimenting and confessed human anxiety. It is also questioning and satirical. I love it.


5) The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin


A fun encyclopaedic tome for when you’re stuck for what to read next. The concept is great: a book to cure what ails you. Have a headache? Indigestion? Diarrhoea? Heart burn? Anxiety? Heartbreak? Here are some bookish suggestions to cure it. As the subtitle says, “From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You”. By the way, 751 books is a little more than a book every day for 2 years. And who can resist that punny title??

What are your favourite/wishlist coffee table books?


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11 Responses to Coffee Table Books

  1. Pingback: Coffee Table Books #2 | Bitches With Books

  2. I have been drooling over The Novel Cure ever since I first laid eyes on it. I adore coffee table books because their design is always stunning, they are creative in ways that normal books aren’t allowed to be, they have lots of pretty pictures, the paper quality and binding and printing is all awesome… but like you said, there are a lot of barriers that stop me from buying them. I just want every book that Phaidon has ever printed. That’s all.

    • Nicole says:

      Yesssss exactly! All those things! And Phaidon definitely is a giant for coffee table book gold. Taschen is another. I just want to drool over everything they do. And I feel like there’s probably a Nat Geo book of photography somewhere out there that’s got my name on it!

  3. barefootmegz says:

    I looove coffee table books! My favorites include Letters of Note, Life and Soul: Portraits of South African Women, and Humans of New York.

    • Nicole says:

      Oh! Humans of New York is another on my list (to be included in a future instalment of Coffee Table Books hah.
      I don’t know the others though; I’ll have to give them a look!

  4. Rachel says:

    I have a couple of coffee table books (though they live on the bottom shelf of my bookcase) and I often gift them to others. I don’t like paying bit bucks for them though… are you still in the UK? The Book People and The Works do great ones for £10 or less, and then you can use discount codes too or buy during sales for even more off. I rarely spend more than £5 on a good coffee table book. R x

    • Nicole says:

      Bottom of the book case makes sense although at the moment I have just non-coffee-table books standing vertically with other non-coffee-table books horizontally stacked on top of those which all need to get out of the way to make room for these precious volumes…
      Good call! I forget them all the time. I’m not sure where the nearest The Works is or if they’d have my chosen books since many of them probably don’t have a wide enough distribution to be stocked there, but they’ll probably all be at The Book People so I’ll have a look there (and go visit The Works to check for any other interesting coffee table finds…!)
      Thanks! xx

  5. Cee says:

    I haven’t given a lot of thought about coffee table books. My brain always go to magazines (I guess I don’t know a lot of people who actually have coffee table books).

    I would totally love to thumb through My Dirty Dumb Eyes (which has a pretty awesome title), Stories in the Stars (because astronomy! Just love stories about it), and The Novel Cure (curious to see what cures the book gives). 😀

    • Nicole says:

      They’re definitely an easily forgotten group. I’m also a magazine fiend, but I think I’d get more wear out of most coffee table books than the majority of my magazines…! heh

  6. moosha23 says:

    All these are gorgeous! I’m intrigued by the 751 titles one! It sounds wonderful…imagine if you had a tummy ache and just flipped to a page and hey presto a bookish cure! Brilliant.

    • Nicole says:

      haha yeah! And the actual volume looks and feels really great. I kind of wanted to read through them all out of curiosity, but I also want to wait until I have some ailment so I can flip to the cure and be surprised by it haha

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