Regardless of how much content you comsume on your computer, your phone, your wearable, your television, or anything else with a screen, nothing can replace a book. Everything can’t be TL;DR, and great stories take time to be told well. No one has yet cracked the code of longform storytelling on a screen in a way that feels as pleasurable and rewarding as a book. Sure, things have improved since the early days of the internet when online pieces featured 8-point type and no pictures, but think about all the times you still leave tabs open on your browser with a story you absolutely had to read only to have it go partially finished because all the other open tabs ended up taking priority. A book is still a superior user experience for truly immersive reading, which is part of the reason why physical book sales are rebounding.
Of course, there are many different kinds of books about many different kinds of subjects. But few check off more boxes than a coffee table book. It is as appealing visually as it is intellectually. Even if you aren’t one to curl up with a 700-page Man Booker prize-winning novel, you can still flip through a bunch of pretty pictures and get some creative inspiration. A good coffee table book also says as much about your taste level as the furniture that surrounds it. If you think guests in your home aren’t checking out your books to get a sense of the person you are, then you’re kidding yourself.
So to class up your coffee table and soak up some engaging offline content, check out these tomes and let the compliments from guests start rolling in.
1. FERRARI 275 GTB No. 08011
In the world of classic Ferraris, it doesn’t get much more classic than the 275 GTB. Produced in the 1960s, the Pininfarina-designed coupe commands prices in excess of $3 million at an auction today. This book follows the painstaking work required to restore one of these cars to a concours level of excellence. You never knew fixing up an old car could look so beautiful, but at the hands of the craftsman deemed worthy of touching chassis number 08011, the work is nothing short of art.
2. PETER LINDBERGH: A DIFFERENT VISION OF FASHION PHOTGRAPHY
Peter Lindbergh has been one of the most sought-after fashion photographers for nearly half a century. That means he has been behind the lens of stunning shots of some of the world’s most beautiful women, including Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, and Naomi Campbell.
3. SEE AMERICA
In the 1930s, the federal government’s Works Progress Administrations commissioned a series of “See America” posters. Originally designed to encourage Americans to visit national parks, the posters are still held in the highest esteem for their design quality. As part of the national parks’ centennial, the Creative Action Network asked artists to reinterpret the “See America” series. The results, which showcase 75 parks across every state in the union, are collected in this book that will definitely make you want to see America.
4. THE FIGHT BY NORMAN MAILER
There are many reasons why the late Muhammad Ali is known as “The Greatest,” not the least of which is that the boxing champ inspired so much great art. Norman Mailer’s 1975 book The Fight chronicled the “Rumble in the Jungle” between Ali and George Foreman and is one of the finest examples of sportswriting ever. A new edition of The Fight includes not only Mailer’s words, but images from two of the best photographers to shoot Ali: Howard L. Bingham and Neil Leifer.
5. ARI MARCOPOULOS: NOT YET
Photographer Ari Marcopoulos has been shooting street culture in its many forms since the 1980s. His work is a combination of documentary and art, and has been displayed in prominent galleries as well as the cover of Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album. Not Yet is a monograph that combines famous and never-before-seen images by Marcopoulos, with each chapter being edited by a celebrated artist or a family member who is close to him.
6. DEYROLLE: 1000 DEGREES CELSIUS
Taxidermy can be both creepy and beautiful at the same time. Nowhere is that more evident than the renowned Paris boutique, Deyrolle. This isn’t your rank-and-file deer mounts, instead it’s exotic creatures that you’d never get so close too if they weren’t stuffed. But in 2008, Deyrolle suffered a massive fire that left its taxidermy in an extremely mangled yet mesmerizing state. Photographer Laurent Bochet was on-hand to capture images of the animals as well as the firemen, employees, and customers who care deeply about the French institution.
7. SNOW BEACH: SNOWBOARDING STYLE 86-96
The early days of snowboarding were an interesting time. The sport had yet to gain mainstream acceptance. Snowboarding was still banned at many resorts and the idea of it becoming a marquee event at the Winter Olympics was laughable. But the underground nature of snowboarding breeded a unique culture that borrowed elements from skateboarding, punk rock, and the great outdoors. Those halcyon days are celebrated in Alex Dymond’s forthcoming book Snow Beach that explores the style, both literal and figurative, of snowboarding in the late ‘80s and early '90s.
8. SLIM AARONS: ONCE UPON A TIME
No one captured the good life better than the photographer Slim Aarons, who, as he put it, made a career out of shooting “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” The photographs in this book chronicle the jet set, back when traveling by jet wasn’t common and people didn’t get on planes with sweatpants that said “sexy” on the butt. Flipping through the pages will make you wish you had enough money to live on permanent vacation.