Coffee table books function as both a practical item and an object of beauty, entertaining guests and adding a bit of elegance to your living room. And while there’s certainly a bit of personal expression involved in picking one out (are you a fashionista? A photography fan? Dog-obsessed?), there are still a few things worth bearing in mind. Substance is key; the books you choose to display in your home say something about who you are and what you love, so you’ll want to ensure you agree with the message and the content of the book. A gorgeous or intriguing cover is also important (this is one time when judging a book by its cover might be warranted) to draw your guests into the book and ensure it succeeds as a piece of art.
Whether you’re searching for a great gift or a book to liven up your own space, we’ve rounded up our favorite coffee table books of the past few years to make the choice a little easier for you.
01 of 08
Best for DIY Decor: Living with Pattern: Color, Texture, and Print at Home Hardcover
Rebecca Atwood’s “Living with Pattern” is a gorgeous book for any home. The cover, a speckled blue and white painting, is a piece of art by itself, but the real beauty is inside. Atwood, a Brooklyn-based designer and artist, explores textures and patterns as they pertain to home decor — and from mud cloth tribal prints to shibori dyed lamps, each page is more alluring than the next. Not only does Atwood explore how to use the best colors and prints for every room in your house, she also explains how to DIY many of them at home so that you can take the inspiration and apply it to your own decor.
Owners say that Atwood’s book displays beautifully in any home, adding that its message is highly practical and has helped many decor enthusiasts decorate beyond the basics.
02 of 08
Best for Female Empowerment: In the Company of Women: Inspiration & Advice by Makers, Artists & Entrepreneurs
Grace Bonney, who founded the website Design*Sponge, explores female empowerment through the lense of entrepreneurship and artistry in “In the Company of Women.” This book should be on every woman’s (and man’s) coffee table this year; it’s an important and fascinating reminder of what incredible women can accomplish. The cover displays photographs of 12 inspiring women, which sets it apart from most of our other choices on this list. Each page features a stunning portrait of a woman who embodies creativity and ownership, along with a short interview exploring their path to success.
“In the Company of Women” is an awe-inspiring coffee table book for any home, and will inspire and motivate you every time you leaf through it. Fans of the book say it’s a hit in their home, noting that it’s launched many deep, insightful conversations with friends and family. This book is a great choice for decorators who are looking for a coffee table book with substance.
03 of 08
Best for Decor Enthusiasts: The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Textiles, and Details Hardcover
Many home decor trends come and go, but Christiane Lemieux set out to figure out what creates a timeless heirloom. It’s eye-catching from the get-go, with a gold-emblazoned cover that’s stunning on every coffee or side table. Throughout the book, Lemieux interviews interior designers, wallpaper and color experts, textile pros and more to identify how to spot quality and artisanship. Between lust-inducing photos of interiors, Lemieux helps readers identify a great piece and decorate their homes in a way that will stand the test of time.
This book is a great gift for any decor enthusiast. While it’s a gorgeous piece of art that will set your coffee table arrangement apart, it’s also packed with interesting details every home decorator will enjoy.
04 of 08
Best for Anglophiles: Remembering Diana: A Life in Photographs Hardcover by National Geographic
To so many around the world, Princess Diana will always be an icon, and National Geographic’s “Remembering Diana” does a wonderful job capturing her spirit and poise. Spanning her childhood years through her untimely death, “Remembering Diana” features over 100 photographs of the princess, picturing her as a schoolgirl, a mother, a wife and an advocate for the poor. Packed between the photographs are anecdotes and interviews from those who knew her best, including luminaries like Mother Theresa and Elton John. The black-and-white portrait cover is timeless, and whether you’re a diehard fan of Diana or just curious about her life, this National Geographic book is an elegant piece for your coffee table.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Best for Fashionistas: Vogue: The Covers (updated edition) Hardcover by Dodie Kazanjian
Every fashionista needs a great coffee table book, and “Vogue: The Covers” by Dodie Kazanjian plays tribute to the most iconic fashion magazine in the world. Filled with covers from the magazine’s 125-year history, this new edition now includes covers from 2010 and on. Whether you’re a Vogue fan or simply a fan of really great photography, this book makes for a classy and chic addition to your coffee table. Whether displayed on its own or showing only its spine, layered with other coffee table books, “Vogue: The Covers” all but screams style.
Owners rave about the book’s colorful cover art, agreeing that it’s a wonderful and entertaining addition to every living room.
06 of 08
Best for Nature Lovers: Overview: A New Perspective of Earth Hardcover by Benjamin Grant
Benjamin Grant’s “A New Perspective of Earth” is hauntingly beautiful look at our home planet from high above. At a time when loving and caring for the planet regularly makes headlines, Grant’s book reminds us just how fragile and glorious our home is. More than 200 breathtaking satellite photographs fill the pages, depicting everything from refugee camps in Kenya to deforested rain forests. It’s an awe-inspiring ode to Earth and a staggering reality check of human impact on the planet. Both humbling and breathtaking, “A New Perspective of Earth” is a beautiful and important piece for your coffee table.
07 of 08
Best for Beach Bums: Beaches by Gray Malin
Another aerial photography book, “Beaches” by Gray Malin offers a look at playful, free-spirited beach life from up above. Each page, packed with images of beach blankets, bright umbrellas and blue oceans, will inspire you to book a vacation ASAP. From Barcelona to Dubai to Chicago, “Beaches” features over over 20 cities’ coastlines, along with tips on where to stay and what to do should you decide to call your travel agent immediately after reading. The cover is also stunning, perfect for any beach house or “I wish this were a beach house” coffee table.
Owners love the inspiring photographs and escape it lends each time it’s opened. It’s a great choice for any traveler and decorator who wants to get away a little more often.
08 of 08
Best for Dog Lovers: The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs Hardcover
If you want a coffee table book that will make you smile each time you look at it, “The Dogist” by Elias Weiss is the book for you. Filled with photographs by its Instagram superstar author, “The Dogist” features portraits that give a little glimpse into a particular dog’s life. From French bulldogs to twin labradors, Weiss captures the everything we love about our canine companions. While there’s not a ton of substance in “The Dogist,” that’s OK — it’s a book to lift your spirits next time you get the “Sunday scaries” or come home from a too-long day at work.