Sunday, February 19, 2012

What's On Your Coffee Table?

So, what's your opinion on Coffee Table Books?
  • Do you actually leave books on your coffee table for people to browse through?
  • If so, were they bought specifically for that purpose?
  • If so, are they books that you yourself would be interested in thumbing through?
  • If so, what's the ratio of text to pictures?
Have you ever had a spread of Coffee Table Books at your local bookstore's bargain bin inspire your gag reflex?  Not because of the subject matter, but because they seem to be sad, worn-out excuses for books? How about the:
  • generic collections of sub-par photographs from a standard set of locations (America! Italy! Greece!)
  • compendiums of historical high-points buffeted by empty text (Civil War! Ancient China! Renaissance!)
  • clips & snippets of paintings arranged into odd categories (Cherubs! Herbs! Puppies!) 
I just can't handle that stuff.

There are some books, however, that are completely Coffee Table Worthy.  When it comes to a quick browse, the more pictures the better--but they must be quality photographs or what's the point?  I actually don't keep these sorts of books on my coffee table--although I would if it weren't for the fact that it's always heavy laden with papers and crafts and other temporary visitors deposited onto the catch-all by my children.  Someday...when I'm all grown up...I'll have a coffee table that lives for books like these:

I love nature (LOVE) so things like these catch my eye:

Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them
Seeing Trees

And whether you like it or not, I'm definitely intrigued by this:

Why is Lincoln's face so intriguing? Is that just me?

And what about some of this?
This may be the only way I'll ever decide to "read" Moby-Dick.
The first two I've purchased as gifts, the second two I would like to have someone else purchase as a gift to me (pretty please?? email me for my address??)  Art with a twist, that's my kind of coffee table book.  What does your coffee table look like?


  1. We're still on the search for our coffee table. When we do find it I'd like the pile of books but know Warmth will want the books on the bookshelves and the coffee table simple.

  2. I have a few though not at the coffee table, the one on there is the childrens book for adults: Go The F-ck To Sleep. The rhymes are amazing and so are the pictures.

  3. I totally agree with Go The F*ck to Sleep. I am totally getting that one before the next adult dinner.

    I bought Kat's LA Ink book for the coffee table.

    Great thought post.

  4. I don't have a coffee table.... I have a tiny living room so space is at a premium in my house!

    I'm not a fan of these kind of books though, I don't think they ever get properly read.

  5. Glad to know that Go The F*ck to Sleep is worthwhile entertainment--I've been wondering if it was all hype and shock value.

    Another issue I have with a lot of "coffee table books" is the cost--when compared to how much use or appreciation they might get, it isn't often worth it. Still...good art sucks me in. :)

  6. My coffee table book is David LaChapelle's Heaven to Hell. It's big, it's colorful, it's enough to give my conservative family a bit of a start. I love it.

    I really like my coffee table. It's an iron frame with a glass top and a glass bottom. I can put my "catch all" stuff on top and my art books or what have you on the bottom. You can still see books on the bottom but it retains its usefulness as a drink resting place, too.

  7. I love coffee table books! They fulfill a totally different purpose than books for reading. Right now my husband and I have one on Southwest Native Americans (since he's Navajo.)

  8. Wow! Lincoln Life-Size is oddly appealing and just hard to look away from. I really enjoyed watching the video you posted. Thanks for bringing my attention to this one!

  9. MJ, your coffee table sounds perfect for books! I'd love to be able to keep some on display.

    Ingrid, it is nice to have some personal history around, isn't it? Like the Images of America books (old photos of my cities/counties) they keep you connected somehow.

    Andi, that's just how I felt! I actually ended up ordering it from Powell's because I'm strangely fascinated. :)


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