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Looking for a way to elevate your living space? Coffee table books lend sophistication, style, and sociability. They instantly add color, texture, and layers to a table or nook while showcasing your unique interests and (let’s admit it) subtly signaling your erudition.
Obsessed with the history of hip-hop? Modernist needlepoint? Rare, exotic plants? Inconspicuously staging a few coffee table books on your favorite subjects is an effortless way to spark conversations with guests—not to mention, a great way to find that one other person at the party who shares your niche interest in Andy Warhol’s artistic collaborations with his mother! And as Rizzoli’s Executive Director of Publicity Pam Sommers sees it, “accumulating and surrounding yourself with coffee table books is like building your own personal salon of beauty and culture.”
With so many tomes to choose from, where to start? To help, we’ve assembled a shortlist of our favorites. Whether you're a fashionista, bibliophile, jet-setter or cinephile—you'll have something unique to discover.
Here, the best coffee table books.
Best Overall: Cabana Anthology
Number of Pages: 336 | Size: 9.4 x 12.2 x 1.8 inches
The arresting sight of this book’s unique cloth binding is reason enough to add it to your wish list. Simultaneously a book, collector’s item, and objet d’art, the Cabana Anthology elevates any tabletop on which its placed. This anthology brings together the first five years of Cabana magazine, a tacit manifesto for maximalist, eclectic, and imaginative moments in interior design. Inside, you’ll find celebrated contributors like Justine Picardie and Christian Louboutin, along with photographs by the inimitable Miguel Flores-Vianna and Tim Beddow.
Best Budget: Little Book of House Plants and Other Greenery
Number of Pages: 144 | Size: 6.5 x 7.2 x 0.7 inches
Remember the last time you took stock of your home and thought “I have too many plants”? Us neither. Whether you’re just starting to exercise your green thumb or you’ve long nursed a greenery addiction, this book will inspire you and guide you, helping you to choose the right plants for your space and to propagate and care for them. Like some of our favorite plants, this book is an inexpensive way to liven up your coffee table.
Best Small: Tiny Pantone Objects
Number of Pages: 150 | Size: 6.1 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
If you have a small coffee table but still want to display a book or two, there are plenty of mini coffee table books out there. One option is this little book dedicated to examples of Pantone colors in the real world, as photographed by Inka Mathew, a graphic designer who runs the popular Tiny PMS Match Tumblr page and @tinypmsmatch Instagram account. Mathew's book matches small everyday objects, both in nature and man-made, to their exact Pantone matches, and the result is a delightful feast for the eyes that you'll love browsing through.
Best Oversized: Andy Warhol. Seven Illustrated Books 1952–1959
Number of Pages: 336 | Size: 14.5 x 20.8 x 2.7 inches
One hesitates to call this a book (to begin with, it’s actually seven!)—"treasure chest” might be more accurate. Each individual book within this portfolio of whimsical illustrations feels like a stolen glance at the man now canonized for his imposing silkscreens and post-war pop art. These quirky books preceded his celebrity and served as gifts for close friends and contacts. Five of the seven are seeing publication for the first time.
Best Interior Design: Beata Heuman: Every Room Should Sing
Number of Pages: 240 | Size: 8.5 x 10.5 x 0.9 inches
Nothing will brighten your coffee table quite like the eclectic, bold, and playful style of Swedish-born interior designer Beata Heuman. Replete with images of stunning, imaginative interiors and tips on foregoing formulaic design, Heuman’s book inspires readers to tap into their imagination and feel confident in making whimsical design choices in their own home. This endearing book is less of a “how-to” style guide and more of a philosophically introspective book about the things—sentiment, mystery, and fun—that make us gravitate to a space.
Best Fashion: The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion
Number of Pages: 304 | Size: 8.6 x 11.2 x 1.2 inches
This richly illustrated essay from curator and critic Antwaun Sargent explores the role played by Black photographers in evolving and vitalizing our contemporary conceptions of gender, race, and bodily beauty. The book features fifteen artists, among them Quil Lemons—the youngest photographer to ever shoot a Vanity Fair cover—and Jamal Nxedlana: two gender-defying artists who thwart binaries. Also included is Dana Scruggs, the first Black woman to shoot an athlete for ESPN’s The Body Issue and the cover of The Rolling Stone. This volume is not just a visual masterpiece, but a moving manifesto.
Best Photography: Bill Cunningham: On the Street
Number of Pages: 384 | Size: 9.8 x 11.3 x 1.3 inches
A roving, spartan eccentric on a bicycle in a blue workman’s jacket, Bill Cunningham was many things: a milliner, a photographer, a journalist, and an everyday icon. In the '70s and '80s, he became a staple of The New York Times and a living landmark of 5th Avenue and 57th street, one of his favorite corners from which to chronicle the street fashion and sociability of NYC. This volume, edited by Tina Loite, brings his vast archives together between attractive blue colors reminiscent of his characteristic coat.
Best Travel: Ibiza Bohemia
Number of Pages: 150 | Size: 9.7 x 1.4 x 13.0 inches
When the snow starts falling outside, you’ll especially appreciate this stunning collection of photographs that give a glimpse into the chic world of Ibiza. This Spanish island and its Balearic cliffs are beloved by musicians, artists, and jet-setting lovers of festive nightlife. More than just a pretty cover (and it is a pretty cover), this book will inspire you to book your next trip, stat.
Best Art: Alice Neel: People Come First
Number of Pages: 256 | Size: 8.2 x 11.7 x 1.1 inches
Though the doors to The Met’s extremely popular exhibit of Alice Neel’s portraits are now closed, you can still see almost 70 years worth of art on display in this voluminous collection. Neel’s expressionistic portraits stimulate and unsettle, looking unflinchingly upon difficult realities like aging, alienation, pregnancy, misogyny, and poverty. Neel’s corpus is a testament both to her humanism and her ability to transcribe truths that often go unremarked, and this exhibition catalogue includes over 100 of her works.
Best Architecture: Architizer: The World's Best Architecture Practices
Number of Pages: 280 | Size: 10.1 x 11.6 x 1.2 inches
Over 335,000 architects rely on Architizer to inspire. Launched in 2009, the site has since become the world’s largest platform for architecture and design. Their A+Firm Awards program celebrates the most outstanding collaborations, and thirty-one of those winners and their work appear in this volume. Recipients chosen by the international panel of experts range from architecture firms and interior designers to landscape architects and engineers.
Best Music: Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop
Number of Pages: 288 | Size: 10.2 x 13 x 1 inches
Explore 40 years of hip-hop history through 50 photographers and nearly 200 images of its cultural evolution, from the early club scene to the latest generation of emcees and wordsmiths. This collection comprises photographers’ contact sheets, making this rich archive a testament to the creativity happening on both sides of the camera.
Best Custom: Artifact Uprising Layflat Photo Album
Number of Pages: 20, 50, or 80 | Size: 8.5 x 8.5, 8.25 x 11, 10 x 10, 12 x 12, or 14 x 11 inches
Move over, Matisse! Though you’ll typically find artists or designers between the covers of a beautifully bound coffee table book, Artifact Uprising makes it possible for your personal photos to shine right alongside Juan Gris and Coco Chanel.
Their Signature Layflat album features high quality archival paper, linen or leather-bound covers, and seamless page spreads to elevate your memories to an art form. Whether it’s your wedding day or that epic Amalfi Coast vacation, an heirloom-quality custom book is the perfect way to showcase and preserve your memories forever.
Best Plant: Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces
Number of Pages: 224 | Size: 7.7 x 9.4 x 1.1 inches
Though gorgeous, this book is more than a simple styling guide: It’s the key to thriving greenery. If you’ve ever wondered which plants can survive the high humidity of your bathroom, the frequent neglect of a globe-trotter, or the intense heat of your top-floor apartment, this book is for you. Along the way, you’ll get a glimpse into 12 inspiring homes that will show you how to use plants to transform your space into something a little more lush, inviting, and wild.
Best Pop Culture: Accidentally Wes Anderson
Number of Pages: 368 | Size: 7.6 x 9.1 x 1.3 inches
Through hyper-stylized sets, oversaturated colors, forced symmetry, and plenty of pathetic fallacy, film director Wes Anderson meticulously cultivates his signature storybook aesthetic. Though Anderson’s films achieve their fantastical quality from the director’s involvement, some real-life locations simply and serendipitously mirror his signature style.
These distinctive destinations and undiscovered gems have been catalogued by the Instagram account @AccidentallyWesAnderson. Started as a personal bucket list by Wally Koval in 2017, the Instagram community has grown to over one million followers and contributors. You can now thumb through their equally stunning and quirky finds with this beautiful volume from Voracious press, which features a foreword written by the director himself.
If you’re searching for a sumptuous volume worth the splurge, Cabana Anthology (view at Amazon) is our top choice. Comprising memorable maximalist interiors shot by talented photographers and featured alongside compelling contributors, it’s a book you’ll want to thumb through again and again. If you’re looking to spend less to dress up your coffee table, the Little Book of House Plants and Other Greenery (view at Amazon) is a cute and quality book that boasts the added benefit of helping you keep your green friends alive!
What are some ways to decorate with coffee table books?
Though the coffee table is the most obvious contender for placement of the eponymous “coffee table” book, don’t let your imagination stop there. These gorgeous tomes can supply almost any space with interesting texture, color, and added height, so use them to create small vignettes on entryway tables, decorative benches, or banquettes. Some stylists even have success stacking these books into a side table or coffee table. (We have to admit, the aesthetic is nice, but it’s not the most accessible way to store your books!)
How should you arrange coffee table books?
To keep your arrangement from looking too stilted or staged, consider adding plants to the mix. Sculptural succulents, branches (like eucalyptus), or a small trailing plant can add contrasting vertical lines and visual interest.
Personal items also contribute to a more dynamic tabletop, so consider mixing in some candles, coasters, and unusual tchotchkes or souvenirs to spark talk and sociability with your guests. Objects like remotes, matchboxes, and coasters will inevitably migrate to your tabletop, so it’s also a good idea to invest in some decorative trays to help contain (and beautify!) these small utilitarian items.
How many coffee table books should you have?
“That’s like asking how many ideas you should have!” says Sommers. The right answer? “As many as possible.”
Sommers says you can’t really go wrong investing in these attractive volumes: “The best ones retain a timeless quality years after publication, while others turn out to be a time capsule of their moment in time. Both are valuable.” To keep things manageable, Sommers recommends arranging your books “on shelves by topic (for easy reference) and rotating stacks of your current favorites or new acquisitions on a table within arm’s reach so you can dip in easily and dream.”
Remember that, above all, a coffee table should be functional. So, if the coffee table is your primary study, dining, or gaming space, you may want to pare down the number of items taking permanent residency there.
Why Trust MyDomaine?
Leslie Joblin is constantly tapped into the newest release lists from her favorite publishers, and she loves to collect both vintage and modern books to decorate her home. While writing her dissertation on twentieth-century avant-garde and visual culture, she amassed a trove of coffee table books, and she considers no trip to NYC complete without a visit to the Rizzoli bookstore. For this roundup, Leslie consulted the latest press catalogs and publicity directors, weighing additional input from interior designers and best-seller lists. Each of the titles featured here boast quality photographs, paper, and binding.