A good coffee table book is a piece of decor. It’s also a source of entertainment, inspiration and knowledge.
When picking a coffee table book, you have to consider what you or your family loves as well as what your guests would be interested in. Our favourite coffee table books provide a relaxing way to pass time, they are conversation starters and they tie the room together with their style and colour.
If you are looking for ideas, here are some of the best books for a coffee table. You can get them for yourself or pick something as a gift for a loved one.
1. Beautiful Machines: The Era of the Elegant Sports Car
Even if you are not a petrolhead, you probably still appreciate pictures of beautiful sports cars. This book has plenty of eye candy, particularly for lovers of sports cars. It covers 100 years of sports car history with high quality photos of well known machines like the Porsche 917 and 007’s Aston Martin DB5.
There are interesting stories and tidbits on these icons to go along with the pictures. Whether you want to learn about sports cars or you can’t get enough of them, this is an excellent coffee table book. We also highly recommend it as a gift for any gearhead in your life.
The Beautiful Machines coffee table book is available as a hardcover. It is 320 pages long and measures 30 by 27cm.
2. Greek Myths
If you’ve ever wanted to become a Greek mythology nerd but never quite had the time to read books or watch videos, this is the perfect coffee table book for you.
Greek Myths by Gustav Schwab features 47 tales from Greek mythology. You’ll learn about Theseus, Aegeus, Odysseus and more. It also contains some common stories from Greek mythology including the Trojan war, the fall of Icarus and the Clash of the Titans.
As with any proper coffee table book, Greek Mythology is accompanied by stunning graphics. Each tale includes illustrations to put you right into the myths.
Even if you are not that much into Greek mythology, this book makes for an entertaining flip through. Your guests will also definitely love it. And if you know anyone who takes every opportunity to talk about Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo and others, this is a great gift for them.
Greek Myths is available only as a hardcover. It is 336 pages long and measures 26.4 by 21.6 cm.
3. National Geographic Stunning Photographs
If you want a nature-themed coffee table book, you can’t do any better than one of National Geographic’s rich books.
The National Geographic Stunning Photographs released in 2014 features some of the most stunning nature photos you will ever see. Most of the photos cover both pages, which makes for cinematic imagery. Even kids will enjoy the magnificent photos inside these pages.
This is also a great book for aspiring nature photographers. The pictures provide great inspiration and ideas.
The hardcover book is 400 pages long and measures roughly 26cm by 26cm.
4. History of the World Map by Map
If you love history and would love a coffee table book that offers deeper and more intensive reading, we highly recommend History of the World Map by Map by Dorling Kindersley Limited (DK).
We’ve seen coffee table books filled with photos and others with beautiful illustrations. This one is filled with maps — 140 of them to be precise. There are also photos and other graphics to fully immerse you in that period of history.
The book is impressive in how much history it covers. It starts from the beginning of humankind and our ancestors’ migration from Africa. It tells the story of Ghengis Khan conquering China, Napoleon sweeping through Europe, the two World Wars and more.
It also covers the rise and fall of empires including the Aztecs, Egyptians, the Soviet Union and the British Empire.
The book is not just about Kingdoms and wars. It also tells the history of tools, writing, printing and other crucial aspects of civilization.
For a coffee table book, History of the World Map by Map is impressive in the breadth of information it provides. It omits some key details and is short of information from some parts of the word, but it’s nevertheless an entertaining and highly informative history coffee table book.
It is 368 pages long and measures 25.8 by 30cm.
5. Plantopedia: The Definitive Guide to House Plants
Most coffee table books are meant to be part informative and part visual entertainment. Plantopedia is one of the few that’s heavy on the ‘informative’ part.
Written by Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan, Plantopedia is ideal for plant parents or anyone who wants to start keeping house plants and actually keep them alive.
The book provides planting and care information on over 130 plants including succulents, foliage plants, and hanging plants with plenty of pictures to guide you. It also covers several rare house plants from around the world.
Whether you are a novice or already have your green thumbs, this is an excellent coffee table book.
The hardcover book is 416 pages long and measures about 20 by 26 cm.
6. The Complete Gardener: A Practical, Imaginative Guide to Every Aspect of Gardening
We also have a great coffee table book recommendation for outdoor gardeners. The Complete Gardener by the famous British Horticulturist, Monty Don, is an in-depth gardening guide for both aspiring and experienced gardeners.
As the title says, the book covers all aspects of gardening including flowering plants, trees, shrubs, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Monty Don offers tips on how to get started with organic gardening, how to plan your garden, and how to garden effectively while protecting the environment.
As with Plantopedia, The Complete Gardener is heavy on information. It’s more of a learning coffee table book. But there are plenty of pictures to guide your gardening efforts.
The book is quite hefty at 440 pages. It measures 22 by 26 cm, so it can fit easily on smaller coffee tables.
7. The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country In The World
Travel around the world from the comfort of your couch with this richly illustrated travel book from Lonely Planet.
The Travel Book has 680 images from 200 countries. Each country gets its own profile with a brief description, the best time to visit, what to do and see plus a few interesting facts. You can flip through the book simply to enjoy the stunning images from different countries or use it to plan your next holiday trip.
The Travel Book has an intuitive A to Z layout of countries. So you don’t have to waste time rummaging through the pages to find a specific country.
This is one of those coffee table books that everyone — kids, adults, guests — will love.
The Travel Book is 408 pages long and measures 27 by 35 cm, so it’s quite big and heavy. Keep that in mind if you have a small coffee table.
8. Countryfile – A Picture of Britain: A Stunning Collection of Viewers’ Photography
If you are looking for a travel book that’s a bit more local, try Countryfile – A Picture of Britain by John Craven and Matt Baker.
It features iconic images of the British countryside taken by viewers of the popular TV program, Countryfile.
Countryfile is a 256-page long hardcover that measures about 22 by 28 cm. It is relatively small by coffee table book standards, making it ideal for kids and the elderly to flip through.
9. The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA
If you want a trip out of this world, we recommend The Planets by Nirmala Nataraj. It contains a collection of more than 200 images from Nasa archives.
You may be wondering why there are so many images for just 8 planets. The book delves into details for each planet. For example, you’ll see an upclose of the red spot on Jupiter and other newly discovered areas. There are images of volcanoes on Venus, the icy surfaces of the Europa (Jupiter’s moon) and the dusty plains of mars.
So this book is not just a journey across the solar system, it also flies you down to the planets to enjoy specific details in rich imagery.
It’s a great buy if you have amateur or budding astronomers in your home.
The Planets is a fairly small and lightweight coffee table book. It has 256 pages and measures about 24 by 24 cm.
10. Vogue: The Covers (updated edition)
Our final pick is for fashion lovers. If you always look forward to the next cover of Vogue, this book brings you all the covers since 2010 featuring Michelle Obama, Lena Dunham, Rihanna and more. It also includes several classic covers from earlier years.
A quick note: this book only features covers from Vogue US so you may be disappointed if you expected to see some local faces.
Nevertheless, it is a colourful journey into the world of fashion and icons. As a bonus, it includes five Vogue prints at the back that you can remove and frame.
The book has 288 pages and measures about 22 by 30 cm.