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Despite countless reports of its demise over the decades, the printed book is still alive and kicking. In fact, even in this era of e-readers and audiobooks, a Pew Research Center study found that the vast majority of American readers are still doing it the old fashioned way. And it’s because of this that books remain one of the go-to presents for the people on your gift list.
Still, it can be hard to pick the right reading material for your friends and loved ones. Do you get them a first edition of a personal classic? Or perhaps something new from an award shortlist? One choice that will always go over well—especially during the holiday season—is the coffee table book. As much art objects as books, these gorgeously illustrated tomes are great to read, look at and show off. Below, 15 books that everyone on your list will love.
100 Slopes of a Lifetime
Celebrate winter’s beloved pursuit—and any ski bunnies in your life—with this gorgeous tome from National Geographic. Written by a former editor of Outside magazine, and featuring a forward by Olympic alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, the book shines a light on trails across an array of terrains and skill levels, from dramatic cross-country routes to experts-only back-country options.
How Architecture Tells: 9 Realities That Will Change the Way You See
“Sculpting space has the power to shape life,” says Robert Steinberg, and this book of 200 full-color photos showcases many of the ways in which architecture can do just that. A futurist, activist, storyteller and fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Steinberg spotlights how some of his public projects have helped raise up and bring together different communities, and how architecture can help spur social change and collective healing.
Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings
Take in the works of Frida Kahlo like never before with this large-format book celebrating the visionary Mexican artist. The collection traces Kahlo’s life and career through drawings, letters, photos, diary pages and images of her paintings—including pieces in private collections that have rarely been seen by the general public, and reproductions of works that have been lost or unseen for over 80 years. It’s the ultimate study of Kahlo’s work for her legion of admirers.
Yachts: The Impossible Collection
Head out onto the high seas with this carefully curated anthology of notable vessels from throughout history. From the 1851 ship for which the America’s Cup was named and the J Class racing yachts of the early 1900s to the sleek megayachts of today (and tomorrow), these are the boats that broke the mold and helped to define their era. The book also spotlights how things like design, green technology, speed, luxury amenities and more have played a part in transforming the yachting seascape.
Born of the training cavalry units of Asia, polo has spanned continents and cultures to become one of the world’s oldest team sports, and the preferred “sport of kings.” Following a forward by legendary player Nacho Figueras, this book takes readers on a thrilling journey from Mongolia to Mexico, Barbados to India, for a look at some of the most prestigious tournaments, prominent polo families and notable grounds on grass, sand and snow.
The Men’s Fashion Book
Hundreds of contributors—from designers and photographers to tailors, editors, models, stylists and more—came together to help create the first truly comprehensive look at men’s fashion from the last 200 years. The A-Z guide spans genres and styles, spotlighting everything from the enduring nature of suiting and the popularity of streetwear to influencers like the Jamaican “rude boys” and tailor Manuel Cuevas, the man responsible for Johnny Cash’s all-black look. Images culled from runway shows, magazine shoots, film stills, vintage ads and more help bring each entry to life.
The Porsche 911 Book
Dive deep into the iconic Porsche 911 with this 192-page hardcover that documents nearly every variant of the marque’s most beloved model. Originally released in 2013 for a limited run of 40,000 copies, the book was recently released in a revised edition, with text by Jürgen Lewandowski and photos by René Staud helping to bring to life the history, evolution and perennial appeal of this legendary ride.
Santa Fe Modern: Contemporary Design in the High Desert
Following the success of their books Texas Made/Texas Modern and Marfa Modern, author Helen Thompson and photographer Casey Dunn turn their spotlight on Santa Fe with this look at how architecture and design has evolved in the Southwestern city. The book takes readers into 20 contemporary and modernist residences to showcase how top architects and interior designers have been inspired by the high desert setting in their choice of styles, materials, form and more. Along the way, the text also offers historical context, expert insight and a look at some of the architects and artists who’ve made a big impact on today’s Santa Fe style.
Bruce Weber. The Golden Retriever Photographic Society
Over his illustrious career, photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber has shot everything from iconic fashion campaigns and portraits of countless A-listers to dramatic American landscapes. For nearly half a century, he’s been accompanied on his journeys by his beloved Golden Retrievers, who’ve often popped up in his photos. In this loving and personal new tome (which features a forward by Jane Goodall), Weber puts the focus squarely on man’s best friend, celebrating both his favorite breed and the ways in which one’s pets can fuel joy and creativity.
Gray Malin: The Essential Collection
In 10 years, Gray Malin has gone from selling his prints at an LA flea market to venturing to all seven continents to create vivid shots that epitomize travel and escapism. This book chronicles the bestselling photographer’s first decade of work, and features images both signature—think the colorful aerial umbrella shots from Miami, Rio and Lisbon—to others that have never been published. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who’s having a bit of wanderlust or who needs a dose of sunshine to brighten up the winter.
Peter Marino: The Architecture of Chanel
Where fashion and architecture meet, there’s Peter Marino. For the last 25 years, the architect has helped create striking buildings for the venerable French label in destinations from New York to Nanjing, along the way helping to elevate luxury retail into fine art. This book of over 300 images includes original sketches, architectural plans, project descriptions and more to help transport readers to the 16 global Chanel outposts for which Marino designed both the exteriors and interiors.
Koichi Takada: Architecture, Nature, and Design
Whether designing the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, an urban marketplace in New York City’s East Village or Australia’s “greenest residential building” in Brisbane, Koichi Takada draws from organic forms and local context to help reconnect people to the natural environment. In this, the first monograph on the Japanese-born, Sydney-based architect, photos of buildings and interiors are juxtaposed with sketches and images of nature to showcase the inspirations behind Takada’s striking creations.
Bird: Exploring the Winged World
Enjoy an engaging and visually stunning visit to the avian kingdom with this hardback tome that explores our fascination with the winged world, from ancient Egypt to the present. Over 300 images and illustrations sit alongside content from ornithologists, art historians, wildlife photographers, conservationists and curators to look at the role birds have played in everything from science and mythology to fine art and pop culture. Even the Twitter bird makes an appearance.
Tucked among the snowy Alps of southwestern Switzerland is a magical land of exclusive ski clubs and elegant hotels, luxury boutiques and cutting-edge art galleries—and lots of beautiful vistas and people-watching in between. In this new book from Assouline, you’ll be transported to Gstaad for a glimpse at some of its stunning natural settings—from slopes to golf courses to polo fields—as well as at its iconic buildings, favorite local haunts and top events like the annual hot-air balloon festival and Menuhin Festival of music. The tome will tide you over until you can next make the scene yourself.
Living in Color: Color in Contemporary Interior Design
Sure, this new home design and décor book from Phaidon provides plenty of aesthetic inspiration, thanks to its featuring of 200 interiors from 130 designers across dozens of room types, in locations around the world. But with its focus on how color plays a part in how we design and live—and the fact that the book is organized by hue, spanning from pure white and deep black to vivid hot pinks and reds—there’s also something meditative about flipping through its pages and embarking on a visual journey across the color spectrum. Text by color historian Stella Paul and interior designer India Mahdavi helps bring it all together.
Assouline Allure Bookstand
The large size that is a huge part of the charm of coffee table tomes can also make them a little awkward to read. To fully appreciate their expanse you’ll need a lot of open space or, better yet, a bookstand. If you’re interested in the latter, this deluxe version from Assouline—available in a black lacquered finish—is just the ticket. If you’re of the opinion that books can be art in, and of, themselves, it’s an elegant way to display one of the jewels in your current collection.Best Deals On Amazon Prime