The 40 Essential Coffee-Table Books of 2017

We're gonna need a bigger coffee table

By Michael Nolledo

The 40 Essential Coffee-Table Books of 2017
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15 December 2017

Coffee-table books will always be the perfect gift.

Since they’re meant for display, they act as a testament to how well you know your recipient: a subtle way to honor his or her interests, passions or obsessions.

To help you find the right one, we’ve rounded up the year’s 40 most stunning coffee-table books across a wide range of categories: architecture, music, sex and more.

Who knows, you may even find something for yourself.

Life & Culture 

Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze
Assembled by London-based art critic  Charlotte Jansen, Girl on Girl considers how women are presented — and present themselves — in today's visual culture. Features interviews with 40 female fine-art photographers. 

BUY IT HERE
Lauren Greenfield: Generation Wealth
A monograph culled from photographer Lauren Greenfield’s decades-long exploration of wealth. Covering the worlds of entertainment, fashion, real estate and more, Greenfield examines the behavior, psychology and insecurities of people hellbent on making coin.

BUY IT HERE
Highbrow, Lowbrow, Brilliant, Despicable: Fifty Years of New York Magazine
The golden age of magazines has long passed, but New York Mag’s 50th-anniversary tome is still an excellent addition to any home. 

BUY IT HERE
Obama: An Intimate Self-Portrait
Pete Souza — chief official White House photographer for Barack Obama — has racked up a considerable following since leaving 1600 Penn thanks to his Instagram. Here’s his behind-the-scenes look into a world-changing presidency.

BUY IT HERE
Moonshots: 50 Years of NASA Space Explorations Seen through Hasselblad Cameras
A stunning assembly of more than 200 photographs taken at the peak of NASA’s space exploration — all shot with Hasselblad cameras in the hands of astronauts.

BUY IT HERE


Food & Drink

Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food Photography
For the food lover who takes pictures of every meal (we won’t tell), this must-have coffee table book covers the little-known history of food photography.

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F*ck, That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well
A perfectly irreverent collection of recipes and anecdotes inspired by the Vice show of the same name from chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson.

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Dalí: The Wines of Gala
A follow-up companion book to Les Diners de Gala, this newly reissued edition of The Wines of Gala has the madcap surrealist offering wines organized “according to the sensations they create in our very depths.”

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Meehan’s Bartender Manual
Jim Meehan — the acclaimed barman behind renowned NYC speakeasy Please Don't Tell — explains the ins and outs of the modern bar industry with his new guidebook for aspiring barmans.

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America: The Cookbook
Consider it the cookbook to end all cookbooks, featuring 800 home-cooking recipes sourced from a “who’s who” of 100 notable food experts and chefs.

BUY IT HERE


Style & Grooming

A Man and His Watch
Photographer, style critic and all-around good guy to know Matt Hranek tells the stories behind iconic men and the timepieces they wore.

BUY IT HERE
Sneakers
Sneaker culture: It’s a thing. This shoebox-of-a-book features interviews with the veritable pantheon of streetwear, from Jeff Staple to Ronnie Fieg to Alexander Wang.

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Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore
The book — which profiles 50 of literary history’s most acclaimed writers, from Joan Didion to Mark Twain — is best taken as an investigation of style as an expression of individuality.

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Brooks Brothers: 200 Years of American Style
The definitive book on the label behind the oxford shirt, featuring archival pieces and profiles of famous men (and women) who have sported Brooks Brothers. Think everyone from  Abraham Lincoln to Mile Davis.

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Suave in Every Situation: A Rakish Style Guide for Men
A humorous style bible meant to help you navigate the “perilous waters of modern life,” illustrated by Jean-Philippe Delhomme, whose water colors you may remember from the pages of GQ.

BUY IT HERE


Architecture

Nomadic Homes: Architecture on the Move
Tents, yachts, private jets, refugee housing, your dream Airstream: the world’s mobile residences are just as varied as the people who inhabit them. This impeccably photographed volume will give you every reason to hit the road.

BUY IT HERE
Wood
A follow-up to Concrete and Brick, William Hall continues his material-specific architecture series with Wood. The book features 170 structures that span a millennium, from Canadian saunas to Japanese castles.

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Rock the Boat: Boats, Cabins and Homes on the Water
Gestalten’s tranquil journey profiles everything from British houseboats to Huck Finn-esque river rafts. Life on the open sea never seemed more attainable.

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Surf Shacks: An Eclectic Compilation of Surfers' Homes from Coast to Coast
What started as a series on surf blog Indoek has manifested a dreamy peek inside 42 of the coolest seaside abodes ever built.

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Frank Lloyd Wright: Unpacking the Archive
If you know one architect, chances are it’s Frank Lloyd Wright. But it’s time to go beyond the catchphrase “organic architecture,” and the best way to start is with this riveting catalog of ~450 works published on the occasion of the American architect's 150th birthday.

BUY IT HERE


Sex

Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds, 1953-2016
Beginning with Marilyn Monroe in 1953, this comprehensive tome collects every nude centerfold (that’s 734, for those counting) from the magazine's history.

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The Art of the Erotic
A chronological collection of sensual art throughout the ages, from Antiquity to Michelangelo to Andy Warhol. And with a cover like that, it’ll spice up any room.

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Madonna: Nudes +
In 1979, Martin H. M. Schreiber was particularly taken with a young nude model in his photography class. Turns out it that model was pre-fame Madonna (pre-Madonna?). The new collection includes never-before-published photos.

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David Lynch: Nudes
Ten years ago, eerie auteur David Lynch held a retrospective of his photographs (as well as paintings and video art) in Paris. Now, 125 of his feminine nudes are collected and published for the first time.

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The Private Collection, Volume 1
L.A.-based photographer Sir Neave took a year off of social media to reconnect with the world around him. The result: this linen-covered, 220-page book of women, architecture and objects brought together by exquisite lighting and shot entirely on film.

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Art & Design

The Art and Science of Ernest Haeckl
A Darwin contemporary, Ernst Haeckl beautifully communicated his interpretations on the complexity of nature and evolution. The only problem? Shaky science. Admire these for the art.

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Monograph
Smart, obtuse and sometimes both, the work of Chris “Chicagoan Picasso” Ware is hard to define. But his impact on the world of cartoons was immense. You’ve seen his work in the New Yorker and in museums; these pages constitute his autobiography.

BUY IT HERE
Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work
The designer behind the Black Flag logo (one of the most iconic pop visuals of all time), this archive spans Pettibon’s ideas from childhood through his later years, with cuts deep enough that even diehard fans will find something new.

BUY IT HERE
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
Her exhibits overwhelm the venues that host them, with ticket demand leading to block-long lines and college gameday-style campouts. Herein, a look at the 50 years of her work.

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Made in North Korea: Graphics From Everyday Life in the DPRK
A colorful, curious look into one of the most private corners of the world, as curated by a local tour guide of 20 years. Rarities abound in this unforgettable collection of ephemera.

BUY IT HERE


Music

Straight Edge: A Clear-Headed Hardcore Punk History
For those interested in the music created in the iconic punk venues of the ‘70s and ‘80s, an altogether more sober look at the genre through its straight-edge culture and the many iconic bands who participated in it.

BUY IT HERE
David Bowie: The Man Who Fell to Earth
A behind-the-scenes look at paranoid alien Thomas Jerome Newton’s rise and fall. Or, another gorgeous way to consider one of the greatest visionaries of modern times.

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Chuck D Presents This Day in Rap and Hip-Hop History
Chuck D and Shepard Fairey have created the genre's definitive survey to date.

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50 Years of Rolling Stones: The Music, Politics and People That Shaped Our Culture
With a forward by founder Jann Wenner, this collection samples some of the most important interviews, photoshoots and otherwise cultural moments in the publication’s history.

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Art Record Covers
Record collections are as visually important as they are musically. This safe-to-handle anthology lets you flip through the last several decades of the art form without depreciating or damaging the masterpieces.

BUY IT HERE


Wheels & Automotive

Vintage Bicycles: How to Find and Restore Old Cycles
Because a good vintage bike — one begging to roll down a wayward Tuscan road with a satchel conveying a bottle of red — is a beautiful thing.

BUY IT HERE
The Harley-Davidson Book
Perfect for any and all lovers of two-cylinder engines, the whirring freedom of the road and a brand as American as spilling bourbon over a plate of apple pie while catching a foul ball on the Fourth of July.

BUY IT HERE
Stars and Cars
007’s Aston Martin. James Dean’s Porsche Spider. Sinatra, The Beatles, Batman, Vin Diesel … and all the automobiles they piloted and collected. From muscles to roadsters and everything in between, here’s the fastest book on the shelf.

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Icon: Official Land Rover
Icon, indeed. A book as handsome as the timeless models it portrays, this homage to Land Rover offers 200 pages of photos and interviews that honor the marque's uncommon mix of adventure and reliability.

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Stile Ducati: A Visual History of Ducati Design
Ninety years ago this year, brothers Adrian, Bruno and Marcello Cavalieri Ducati began a small company in a dingy factory in the middle of Bologna. Here’s to their journey from then to present-day — and to staring at some of the world’s most beautiful machines.  

BUY IT HERE

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