The art of having a beautifully eclectic collection of coffee table books is something you can’t quite learn, but you can certainly try. There are many coffee table books that rise above the clutter of oversized hardcovers into a space that makes them essential and enjoyable. Keep these on your coffee table to show your guests you understand culture and art (and maybe thumb through them from time to time).
The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition by John James Audubon, $264.40 on Amazon: “Bound in cloth with a full cloth slipcase, this beautifully produced book is the first complete reproduction of Bien chromolithographs and will become the centerpiece of any bird lover’s library."
The World Atlas of Whisky: New Edition by Dave Broom, $31 on Amazon: “How does one unravel the complexities of whisky? How does one define the flavors and aromas that create the most deliciously teasing and satisfying of drinks? This essential guide to the water of life groups whiskies by style, allowing the reader to identify new whiskies to try from around the world. So, experiment with a new taste or relax with an old favorite and prepare to immerse yourself.”
Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 by Annie Leibovitz, $58 on Amazon: “Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 is the photographer's follow-up to her two landmark books, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, 1970-1990 and A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005. In this new collection, Leibovitz has captured the most influential and compelling figures of the last decade in the style that has made her one of the most beloved talents of our time. Each of the photographs documents contemporary culture with an artist's eye, wit, and an uncanny ability to personalize even the most recognizable and distinguished figures.”
The Book of Flowers by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, $70 from Taschen: “This elegant catalogue gathers all engravings from his masterful volumes Roses and Selection of the Most Beautiful Flowers, alongside the most astounding pieces from The Lilies. Astonishing with his admixture of accuracy and beauty, Redouté transports the reader to the magnificent greenhouses and gardens of a bygone Paris.”
Meehan's Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan, $22 on Amazon: "Meehan’s Bartender Manual is acclaimed mixologist Jim Meehan’s magnum opus—and the first book to explain the ins and outs of the modern bar industry. This groundbreaking work chronicles Meehan’s storied career in the bar business through practical, enlightening chapters that mix history with professional insight. Meehan’s deep dive covers the essential topics, including the history of cocktails and bartending, service, hospitality, menu development, bar design, spirits production, drink mixing technique, and the tools you’ll need to create a well-stocked bar—all brought to life in over 150 black- and-white illustrations by artist Gianmarco Magnani."
Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings by James W. Goode, $47 on Amazon: “By reminding us of things lost, James Goode's magisterial and poignant study represented a comprehensive call for action, a mandate for responsible stewardship of the architectural legacy of Washington, DC. Both the familiar public Washington of official landmarks and the private city of residential neighborhoods are paid tribute in this volume, dedicated to the vanished.”
The Star Wars Archives by Paul Duncan, $200 from Taschen: “Star Wars exploded onto our cinema screens in 1977, and the world has not been the same since. In this XXL-sized tome, George Lucas guides us through the original trilogy like never before, recounting the inspirations, experiences, and stories that created a modern monomyth. Complete with script pages, concept art, storyboards, on-set photography, and more.”
The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries by Carol Peachee, $24 on Amazon: "Using a technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging―a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light―Peachee reveals the vibrant life lingering in artifacts from worn cypress fermenting tubs to extravagant copper stills. This lavish celebration of bourbon's heritage will delight whiskey aficionados, history buffs, and art lovers alike."
Diane Arbus: Revelations by Diane Arbus, $65 from Amazon: “Diane Arbus Revelations affords the first opportunity to explore the origins, scope, and aspirations of what is a wholly original force in photography. Arbus’s frank treatment of her subjects and her faith in the intrinsic power of the medium have produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity, in its steadfast celebration of things as they are. Presenting many of her lesser-known or previously unpublished photographs in the context of the iconic images reveals a subtle yet persistent view of the world.”
Highbrow, Lowbrow, Brilliant, Despicable: Fifty Years Of New York Magazine by The Editors of New York Magazine, $50 from Barneys New York: “This massive text celebrates the great story of New York, both the city and the magazine. Marking the magazine’s 50th birthday, this book draws from half a century's worth of printed stories to bring readers an unparalleled history of the city's transformation.”
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