The Best 50+ Coffee Table Books of 2021

The gifts you love to give and, even better, the gifts you love to receive. Here is your complete guide to the best coffee table books this year has to offer.

Walking into a house with no art or décor can feel quite dreary or bare. Art has a way of making the room your own and can be served as an inspiration to others. I recently watched the show “The Crown,” and I noticed how the Queen draws her guests in by discussing the art on her walls or individual pieces of décor that hold significance.

However, as 2020 rolls around, we are definitely not strolling through Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England staring at Renaissance paintings by the most generous artists in history. However, by having coffee table books that have art, and art in the broadest terms, you can invite your guests like the Queen of England would to a conversation about what the books have to hold, such as:

On History

History coffee table books are great for those history junkies that are ready to spark up a conversation with facts about our most significant wars, tactics, and rulers worldwide with a flip of a page. Just as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” In learning about our history, we allow ourselves to feel deeply connected to our world and humanity.

The War: An Intimate History

Unseen: Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives

Battles that Changed History

The History of Central Asia: The Age of the Silk Roads

Great Maps: The World’s Masterpieces Explored and Explained

Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Significant and Historic Works

On Photography

Photography coffee table books serve the same purpose and tone as the art of your walls would. Who took this photo? What about this photographer is he/she remembered for? What other images are they famous for? As the host, you have become knowledgeable about so much information by just having a book with some of the most famous photographs in history. You do not need to be the Queen of England to look like you know what you’re doing; now you can impress your guests with a mere book that lies on your coffee table.

Genesis by Sebastiao Salgado

Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Don McCullin: The New Definitive Edition 

Misao, The Big Mama And Fukumaru The Cat Goodbye Hello

Robert Frank: The Americans

Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer’s Photographer

Resident Dog: Incredible Homes and the Dogs That Live There

Magnum Contact Sheets

Helmut Newton: Sumo

On Music

Nothing quite captures the soul like music. We listen to music all the time, but we never see or feel any tangible form of song and dance. Well, now you can, as a big book of rhythm has been formatted into the physical form. Musical coffee table books can teach about your favorite artists, their lives, the purpose behind the songs, and how it all looked behind closed doors. Maybe you’ll see intimate never before seen photos that will surely impress you and whoever you have sitting next to you.

1000 Record Covers

The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973


Contact High: A Visual History of Hip Hop

Rock-and-Roll Women


On Art

Art inspired coffee table books are extremely fun and informing. Learning about the most significant works in history alongside their artists in the form of a big giant book is way less daunting than an AP art class. No teachers, no tests, just only you and the art. Interpret the craft in all ways possible and ask your friends and guests what they think. These conversations are what the human spirit thrives on and are much more fulfilling than small talk and gossip.

Art that Changed the World

Art: A Visual History

Dali: The Paintings

Artists: Their Lives and Works

Van Gogh: Complete Works

The Age of French Impressionism

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings

Paintings and Sculpture at The MoMa

Vatican: All the Paintings

On Traveling

Traveling coffee table books are way too exciting. Open one book up, and you are your guests will be planning your next vacation before you know it. If you can’t travel, or if you’re working from home and dreaming of a Covid-less future like the rest of us, open a coffee table book on traveling and escape into the photos. Perhaps one day, you’ll be sitting on those mountains or that island, remembering the day you were inspired to travel there because of the moment you read about why you should go.

The Bucket List: Places to Find Peace and Quiet


Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places

Living in Mexico

Overview: A New Perspective of Earth

On Culture

Culture inspired coffee table books are great for expanding your knowledge to cultures outside of your own. If we all settled within our cultures and never attempted to venture out, the world would not be the melting pot of assimilation that it is today. There is a reason behind each and every culture, and who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to change the way you have been doing things all your life in exchange for something that makes your heart beat faster and smile larger than it would have before.

Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home with Books

Humans by Brandon Stanton

In the Company of Women

The Dogist

Tiny House: Live Small, Dream Big

Living in the Mountains

Delicious Places: New Food Culture, Restaurants, and Interior

On Fashion

Fashion house coffee table books are nothing shorter than fabulous. After taking a Fashion & Power course at NYU, I learned that fashion is sadly an undervalued and understudied piece of our world knowledge. To my surprise, many people, especially historians, chose to see the fashion world as not worth studying. Boy, are they wrong. As I researched the top coffee table books in general, the most searched on google seemed to be strictly about fashion. There is so much to be learned and inspired from when it comes to couture. Many of us want to know why we put on the clothes we decide to wear every day and who/what is the inspiration behind it.

Kate: The Kate Moss Book

Images by Jacquemus

Andy Warhol Polaroids

Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue

Tom Ford

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

The New Black Vanguard

Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style

On Architecture

If you must know, architecture coffee books are my absolute favorite. I am passionate about interior design and architecture and love to be inspired by how others built the places they dwell in and why. Learning about how homes are made, from a simple sketch that somehow leads into a modern skyscraper, is pretty cool if you ask me. If you live in an apartment, have you ever wondered why something is built a certain way or angled different, there is a reason for everything. By seeing all of the many different architectural styles, maybe you’ll be inspired to design your own home, or perhaps take a visit to some of the houses that have caught your eyes.

A Tale of Interiors

Nicole Hollis: Curated Interiors

Designing Hollywood Homes: Movie Houses

More Than Just a House: At Home With Collectors and Creators

Scott Mitchell Houses

Zaha Hadid: Complete Works

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses

Architects’ Houses

It is impressive what coffee table books can do not only for your home but also, more importantly, for your soul. You learn something new as you flip these giant glossy pages and find something profound and inspiring in every picture they hold. Coffee table books, for me, are an art form because of their remarkable ability to teach adults in a way that makes it enjoyable rather than dull. Your guest will leave satisfied deep within, because who doesn’t love filling their brain with beauty and knowledge about the world around and before them.

P.S. If you’re thinking about where you should place your special books, try browsing our coffee table guide here!

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