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Coffee Table Art: Good-looking Books Make Great Gifts

The sumptuous photography in these arty books will please the aesthetes on your holiday list, whether they worship objects or animals / BY Kim Honey / November 1st, 2020

The sumptuous photography in these coffee table books will please the aesthetes on your holiday list, whether they worship people, places or things.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 


1Inside Marrakesh: Enchanting Homes and Gardens by Meryanne Loum-Martin

Lawyer turned interior designer and hotelier Meryanne Loum-Martin was born in Côte d’Ivoire, raised in Paris, and spent time in London, Rio and Moscow, but when she met Marrakesh, “I knew I had found my home, my lifelong partner, a city overflowing with vibrant energy,” she writes. From Madison Cox-designed citrus gardens to a courtyard with a cerulean-and-aqua-blue tiled pool, she provides an entrée into the history and evolution of Moroccan art, architecture and textiles, not to mention a peek inside some of the city’s most impressive edifices. ($79)

2The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers, and Art at the Edges of Literatureby Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth

From designer Peter Mendelsund, creative director at The Atlantic magazine, and Harvard humanities professor David Alworth comes this fascinating fusion of literary criticism and design thinking that explains why you judge books by their covers. Mendelsund has some serious cred: He’s created covers more than 600 books, including Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. ($60)

3Sushi Shokunin: Japan’s Culinary Masters by Andrea Fazzari

James Beard Award-winning photographer and writer Andrea Fazzari trains her lens on the rarefied world of Japan’s shokunin, which she has described as “the highest tier of masters in the Edomae (Edo or Tokyo style) sushi world.” The Tokyo-based New Yorker features 20 of the country’s most celebrated sushi masters and their restaurants. ($125)

4The Impossible Collection of Whiskey by Clay Risen

New York Times editor Clay Risen is obsessed with whiskey, and his third spirits book  – which comes in a wrought-iron trimmed wood box that looks like a barrel – presents 100 of the world’s most exceptional bottles. And it’s not based just on price. “No one could ever hope to actually assemble all of these bottles into a single collection, but the fun of it is the fantasy that we could,” he writes. ($995 U.S. only on assouline.com)

5Big Dog, Little Dogby Seth Casteel

From Seth Casteel, the photographer who gave us Underwater Dogs and Underwater Puppies, comes another adorable photography book featuring wee canines snapped next to their biggest relatives. There’s a Jack Russell chasing a black lab and a Great Dane tussling with a dachshund. These pups are in such adorable poses, you’ll want to get the behind-the-scenes digital look-book from Casteel’s Instagram to figure out how to recreate the poses for your fur babies. ($29)

6Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval

In 2017, Brooklyn, New York resident Wally Koval started an Instagram account of to document idiosyncratic places around the globe that match the film director’s quirky design aesthetic as seen in films like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Now at 1.2 million “adventurers,” as followers are called, the images from 180 photographers in 50 countries are collected in this book, including one post of a Bell pay phone against a bright-orange tile background in one of the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway stations. ($44)

7Queen: The Neal Preston Photographsby Neal Preston

In the mid-70s, L.A. rock photographer Neal Preston was hired as Queen’s tour photographer, documenting the 1981 South American concerts, Live Aid in 1985 and Freddie Mercury’s last tour with the band in 1986. In addition to 200 of Preston’s iconic images, the book includes memories and anecdotes from guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. ($81)

8The Peanuts Bookby Simon Beecroft

It’s been 70 years since Charles Schultz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip had its debut in seven U.S. newspapers, and this anniversary tome takes on the whole history. Shultz died in 2000, the night before his final cartoon was published, but Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and Woodstock live on. ($50)

9Escapology: Modern Cabins, Cottages and Retreats by Colin McAllister

Scottish design duo Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan – part-time Canadians who have a home in Toronto – turned their love of the wilderness and its greatest retreats into a book featuring 24 properties from Sweden to the U.K.  There’s a classic red-roofed Muskoka log cabin, as well as their rental property in Haliburton, Ont., called Plan B, with its “distinctly Western mid-Mod feel.” ($40)