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42 of the Year’s Most Giftable Coffee-table Books (So Far)

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The coffee-table-book-sphere is an unwieldy one, so we weeded through it and rounded up the best and most giftable publications of the year so far, just in time for Mother’s Day. You’ll find something for every type of mom on your list here — the eco-friendly mom who wants to live off the grid, the one who knows every lyric to every Bruce Springsteen song, and the movie buff who wants to know more about Alfred Hitchcock.

Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design

Featuring more than 80 new designers breathing life into floristry, Blooms showcases colorful, modern floral designs that are far from fussy. Vibrant and unexpected arrangements — from artists like Lewis Miller, who creates pop-up floral pieces in public spaces, and Doan Ly of Brooklyn-based studio a.p. bio, whose work is a little bit freakebana and a little bit still-life painting.

Anti Glossy: Fashion Photography Now

Anyone guilty of hoarding issues of Vogue, Dazed, or W will want to bookmark Anti Glossy, a curated anthology of fashion spreads from over 20 photographers who have made their name in creating fiercely cutting-edge editorials, including household names like Juergen Teller and emerging female talents like Charlotte Wales.

The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure

Full of documents, maps, and drawings from the New York City Municipal Archives, this engaging visual history traces the story of Central Park from its beginnings as an ambitious urban planning initiative to its status today as one of the city’s biggest attractions.

Shtetl in the Sun: Andy Sweet’s South Beach 1977–1980

While the lively community of Jewish retirees (some of whom were Holocaust survivors) in Miami’s South Beach has dwindled since its late-1970s heyday, these photographs relive it, with seniors dancing, playing cards, and strolling the beach against a backdrop of Art Deco architecture.

Off the Grid: Houses for Escape

This volume on eco-architecture highlights the most creative examples of sustainable dwellings that span some of the most striking and remote locations across the globe, from modernist shacks in Australia to tree houses nestled in Patagonia.

Bauhaus Journal 1926–1931: Facsimile Edition

The Bauhaus school was founded 100 years ago, and this book features facsimiles of the school journal where many of the soon-to-be icons of modern art and architecture — Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gerrit Rietveld, and more — were forging their perspectives and debating the future of design.

Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs

Based on his interviews with members of the E Street Band and the Boss himself, longtime Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt shares the stories behind the writing and recording of each album, and each song, in Springsteen’s decades-long career. Illustrated with more than 180 photographs, it’s an inside look at a prolific artist’s creative process.

La Grotta: Ice Creams and Sorbets

When Kitty Travers started London-based La Grotta Ices in 2008, she made a commitment to using seasonal and locally-grown ingredients in her ice-creams, gelatos, and sorbets rather than relying on more “traditional” flavors like vanilla and chocolate. The resulting cookbook, with over 75 recipes and dozens of bright, full-page photographs, is as bold as the recipes themselves, like kumquat custard, mulberry granita, and pear, myrtle, and ginger sorbet.

Guestbook

Leanne Shapton is an artist and graphic novelist, whose debut work, Was She Pretty?, made her a name for its line drawings and evocative storytelling. Shapton has produced consistently great work ever since, and her new title, Guestbook, is no exception. Here, she offers over two-dozen unsettling stories — of ghosts, hauntings, and loss — all with a touch of humor.

The NASA Archives: 60 Years in Space

This retrospective book features over 400 historical photographs and rare concept renderings, pulled directly from NASA’s archives. Together, these images tell the story of the organization’s 60-year-long exploration of deep space, from the race to the moon to the head-spinning array of robotic landers.

Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful

Kwame Brathwaite’s portraits and images documenting Harlem’s artistic community from the late ’50s and throughout the ’60s fill this monograph celebrating the artist’s remarkable career. During the second Harlem Renaissance, Brathwaite and his brother Elombe Brath founded the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios and the Grandassa Models, a modeling agency for black women founded to challenge white beauty standards.

Alfred Hitchcock: The Complete Films

The prolific “Master of Suspense,” Alfred Hitchcock directed 53 films over the course of his decades-spanning career, and this book covers each one with analysis and photographic documentation, from his early silent films to 1976’s Family Plot.

Love Affairs With Houses

The famous decorator Bunny Williams, who was trained by Albert Hadley and Sister Parish — and was anointed in to the Architectural Digest 100 Hall of Fame last year — on 15 of her favorite-ever homes: what drew her to each project, and her approach to the décor.

Ethan James Green: Young New York

A selection of photographs of the 29-year-old artist, a one-time model who grew famous for his portraits of his close friends: New York’s millennial artists, nightlife icons, queer youth, and gender-fluid muses of the fashion world, including Hari Nef, Ashton Sanders, Vejas Kruszewski, and Matt Holmes.

Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico

In Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico, black-and-white photographs (and accompanying essays) of political protests, rugged desert landscapes, and religious ceremonies offer a more personal and nuanced perspective of the photographer’s homeland — though it’s her portraits of indigenous women that feel the most intimate.

Lovin’ My Car: Women in the Driver’s Seat

Libby Edelman — former fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and co-founder of Sam Edelman — hit the road on a cross-country journey to document female car fanatics and their beloved automobiles.

The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List

This collection on the 100 most Jewish foods from Tablet magazine isn’t a ranking of the most delicious or even the most popular dishes but the ones that have had the most cultural impact, like matzo ball soup, bagels, babka, and chopped liver. And weighing in on the merits of each dish on the highly debatable list are a slew of food writers, chefs, and other personalities, including Eric Ripert, Yotam Ottolenghi, Gail Simmons, and even Dr. Ruth.

John Richardson: At Home

Art historian, Picasso biographer, and bon vivant John Richardson invites readers into his homes. From the south of France to the Connecticut countryside, Richardson tells the story of his life through the interiors he’s lived in and the furniture, artwork, antiques, and objects he’s collected.

Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics From a Modern American Family

Written by food writer Priya Krishna, who has contributed to Grub Street as well as the New York Times and Bon Appétit, Indian-ish is a decidedly Indian-American cookbook, featuring the dishes that her mom Ritu created during Priya’s childhood in Dallas, Texas. The recipes are a playful mix of classic Indian fare, American favorites like PB&J, and global ingredients that are actually easy to make. Think palak paneer made with feta cheese and roti pizza.

Weed: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned to Ask

If you liked our roundup of the best CBD and hemp products for the tasteful non-stoner, you’ll probably like this book, which, like that piece, is by Michelle Lhooq. It’s a practical but Technicolor guide to the ever-widening world of weed, with tips on how to roll a blunt like a boss, guides to finding the best dispensaries around the world, and interviews with folks who are at the forefront of the legal weed revolution, including a “cannasexual” educator and a chef with a gourmet weed dinner series.

Margaret Kilgallen: That’s Where the Beauty Is

Bay Area artist Margaret Kilgallen, who died at the age of 33 in 2001, was known just as much for her large-scale folk art and letterpress works as for her ’90s-era freight train graffiti. That’s Where the Beauty Is, published on the occasion of her first posthumous exhibition — and her largest show to date — celebrates the painter’s feminist-leaning, handcrafted style.

Bubbletecture: Inflatable Architecture and Design

Sharon Francis’s background in architecture and form lends a knowing wink to this comprehensive dive into inflatable objects from over the past two centuries. The compulsively flippable Bubbletecture revels in the bizarre and kooky (inflatable egg cups) as well as in more pedestrian inflatable furniture and gigantic inflatables made for ogling, like Geraldo Zamproni’s massive scarlet pillow sculptures.

Space Utopia: A Journey Through the History of Space Exploration From the Apollo and Sputnik Programmes to the Next Mission to Mars

This tome is the result of over a decade of collaboration between photographer Vincent Fournier and the world’s most significant space centers and astronomical observatories, including NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. The collection of images charts humankind’s race to space and functions as both an historical archive of the past and a wildly imaginative exploration of the future.

My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions

Gabriela Camara has a fine dining pedigree and is known for running the seafood restaurant Contramar in Mexico City and collaborating with Sqirl’s Jessica Koslow to open a new restaurant Onda in Los Angeles. But this colorful cookbook — with 150 recipes including chilaquiles verdes, tuna tostadas, and, of course, handmade tortillas — is written for the home cook who want to learn the basics of authentic Mexican cuisine.

As It Was: Frank Habicht’s Sixties

A couple of years before San Francisco’s Summer of Love in 1967, London started experiencing the Swinging Sixties. German-born photographer Frank Habicht captured the spirit of this youth movement in his black-and-white photographs — including portraits of Jane Birkin, the Rolling Stones, Vanessa Redgrave, and more — which are collected in this book.

Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989

Fifty years after the Stonewall Riots, the works of many key artists who sparked the LGBT movement for equality remain relatively unknown. This book seeks to put those works and the artists who made them on center stage. With over 200 works from the last 20 years, this book tells the stories of artists such as Nan Goldin, Harmony Hammond, Lyle Ashton Harris, Greer Lankton, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, as well as the ways in which artists such as Diane Arbus, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Karen Finley engaged with the queer subcultures of their time.

An Atlas of Rare & Familiar Colour: The Harvard Art Museums’ Forbes Pigment Collection

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Harvard museum director Edward Forbes’s hundred-year-old pigment collection. The Atlas of Rare and Familiar Colour, through its meticulously photographed jars of powders, herbs, and minerals, tells the story behind a large selection of the most impressive pigments in the collection and how they were used to create world famous artworks. From Yves Klein’s famous shade of blue to Vermeer’s preferred red made from crushed beetles, this sumptuous book is a window into art history’s apothecary.

Only Human: Photographs by Martin Parr

This collection of photographer Martin Parr’s recent work explores what it means to be British now, though his idiosyncratic portraits that range from the likes of Vivienne Westwood and soccer player Pelé to everyday folks. The publisher initially timed the release to coincide with the “Brexit” deadline which has since shifted a few times.

Tonne Goodman: Point of View

A chronological exploration of the life of the famous Vogue fashion director, from her time as a special assistant to Diana Vreeland at The Costume Institute at the Met, to the first fashion picture she did for The New York Times (with Helmut Newton, of a model in a bathing suit at the University of Miami Olympic swimming pool). This book also includes a bevy of behind-the-scenes fashion photos and images of Goodman’s childhood and personal life.

New West: Innovating at the Intersection

Linen postcards are a dime a dozen at any given garage sale, but the mid-century memento’s saturated tones, rendered in large format in New West: Innovating at the Intersection, creates an expansive portrait of America’s (mostly) preserved frontier.

HausMagick: Transform Your Home With Witchcraft

Salem, Massachussetts’ witchcraft store HausWitch has long been a destination for people looking to dabble in benignly occult practices like “earth spells” or take some crystals and tarot cards for their home. Here, founder Erica Feldmann brings her wisdom to the masses with a guide to housewarming with a touch of magic (you might find the ancient home-healing spells useful for breaking ground in a new place).

Editor’s Note: These books, below, are scheduled to publish after Mother’s Day, but we’re including them now.

Marc Jacobs Illustrated

There’s something delightfully charming and personal about this skinny Marc Jacobs career retrospective, illustrated by his friend Grace Coddington and introduced by one of his muses, Sofia Coppola. Coddington draws some of his most memorable looks across over 50 collections, dating back to his infamous ’90s grunge moment at Perry Ellis, all of which are neatly summarized with footnotes and fun facts from Jacobs.

Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles

Whether you’re a frequent doodler or not, Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles will draw you in (sorry!). The lovingly printed and fascinating visual encyclopedia is a voyeur’s trove of intimate drawings by some of the world’s most respected and well-known minds. Included, you’ll find rare musings and early sketches by artists, writers, academics and actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Clara Barton, Mark Twain, Andy Warhol, and Marc Chagall. The best coffee-table books provide some much-needed respite from computer and phone screens, and this one is no exception.

Delicious Places: New Food Culture, Restaurants and Interiors

Most restaurateurs and chefs put as much thought into the plates and bowls a meal is served on as into the food itself, and Delicious Places is a celebration of these little design details that make a restaurant feel extraordinary. Rather than focus on menus, this book highlights the varied and sumptuous interiors of restaurants around the world (that also happen to make world-class food).

Alex Katz: Painting the Now

Alex Katz has exhibited paintings in hundreds of solo and group exhibitions over the span of his 70-year-long career. The Brooklyn-born artist is internationally acclaimed and revered for his unique style of what he calls “painting in the present tense.” Filled with over 100 full-color images, this collection of essays spans Katz’s career from his emergence on the New York art scene in the 1950s, through every creative phase of his oeuvre, to present day. Each essay or interview sheds light on his inspirations, his painterly technique and his influence on contemporary artists.

Walter Chandoha. Cats. Photographs 1942–2018

Long before cats won the internet, photographer Walter Chandoha spent decades snapping portraits of felines, capturing all of their lovable, elegant, and at times mischievous energy. A chance encounter with a stray inspired him to devote his talents to cats, and this volume spans more than 60 years of his career as the world’s preeminent cat photographer.

Herman Miller: A Way of Living

With mid-century modern furniture plastered all over Instagram and Pinterest, consider studying up on Herman Miller, the furniture company that produced some of the most iconic designs of that era. However, there are enough tidbits from the company’s archive to make this book appealing to even the most hardcore fan.

Mary Ellen Mark: The Book of Everything

Mary Ellen Mark spent decades training her unflinching gaze upon the vulnerable and destitute subjects in her black-and-white portraits. Following her death in 2015, this new anthology of her work turns the lens on her. Thousands of contact sheets and millions of frames were pored over and whittled down to this stunning collection of over 600 images, lovingly pieced together by her husband, director Martin Bell, and padded with anecdotes from friends and collaborators.

Interiors — The Greatest Rooms of the Century

With this thorough compilation of envy-inducing interiors on your coffee table, you’ll never need to open Pinterest again. Featuring profiles and photographs of over four-hundred rooms from the homes of some of the most well-known artists, designers, and film stars throughout the 20th century, including Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, and Coco Chanel.

Brian Eno: Visual Music

This book features over 300 images of installations and video works belonging to the mercurial artist and musician Brian Eno. And in addition to the interviews, essays, and photographs, Eno has composed an accompanying piece of downloadable music. Eno is the master of ambient music. Coffee table books are a bit like ambient literature. This is a match made in heaven.

Joel Gray: The Flower Whisperer

Joel Grey made his career acting, singing, dancing, and starring in Broadway classics like Cabaret, Chicago, Wicked, and Anything Goes. But in this book, Grey wants to show us his quieter passion: flowers. Nearly 120 pages of them with stories from Grey’s childhood of encounters with nature, and meditations on the poppies, calla lilies, and ranunculuses he has pored over for the last seventy-odd years.

Donald Judd & Switzerland

Though Donald Judd is very much an American artist, he owned a house near Lucerne and regularly worked and exhibited in Switzerland from the 1970s until his death in 1994. This book offers new insight into Judd’s Swiss works, including the colorful, aluminum Menziken pieces, with interviews with his contemporaries and new scholarship by art historian Richard Shiff.

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42 of the Year’s Most Giftable Coffee-table Books