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This list of coffee table books will satisfy everyone on your gift-giving list. The adventurer, bookworm, music lover, gearhead, animal lover, and more!

Everyone loves a good coffee table book.

Have you ever found yourself sitting awkwardly in someone’s living room and you hit that moment when things get tense? Maybe you do not know each other very well. Or you’ve already run the gamut of uninteresting small talk. You start looking around the room for a savior. And your eyes land on the book on the coffee table. You pick it up and start flipping through it. That’s when your host tells you the most fascinating story about why that book is significant to them. Now we’re rolling …  

The Science

According to Architectural Digest (AD), and let’s face it, they know coffee table books, there are a few reasons why we love a good coffee table book. AD talked to several psychologists who agree on a few main points.  

  1. Coffee Table Books tell your visitor a lot about you. Many people like to display a book they find interesting or that has moved them in some way. By leaving it out in the open for guests to see, you are making a statement about that aspect of your personality. 
  2. Coffee Table Books are great conversation starters. Imagine you are on a first date, or meeting the parents, a coffee table is a great way to break the ice and maybe even find a common ground.  
  3. Coffee Table Books take us back … According to Dr. Sally Augustin, the act of flipping through a coffee table book with its large pages and beautiful imagery, inspire a feeling of awe. There are all sorts of positive social repercussions from feeling awe, like having positive feelings toward others, inspiring curiosity, improving our mood, improving our cognitive performance, or encouraging us to go with a more creative solution to a problem. 

The Coffee Table Book Deep Dive

If you are anything like me, once you start browsing through my list of coffee table books, you are going to find yourself fascinated with things you never even found remotely interesting before. And if you have a tough-to-shop-for person on your gift-giving list, I am sure they have an interest that someone has made a coffee table book about.  

Happy browsing, holiday hero! 

  • How to Split Wood, Shuck an Oyster, and Master Other Simple Pleasures 

    This is the kind of book I wish were in every waiting room in America. Kaufmann Mercantile describes itself as “well lived goods for the slower, more thoughtful lifestyle.” These are the kinds of things you know other people do but you don’t know how they do them. This book teaches you. 

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  • The Only Woman

    Amazing. The idea of this book is to show a single woman in a male dominated situation. This book is the perfect gift for anyone on your list. The photos are cool. The stories are cooler.

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  • America the Beautiful: A Story in Photographs 

    We all love looking at beautiful photos. What could be better than looking at beautiful photos of this beautiful country of ours? The perfect gift for the patriot in your life.  

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  • This Book is Literally Just Pictures of Animals Judging You 

    Who doesn’t love to look at photos of animals making funny faces … even if you are the target of their judgement. You won’t have to entertain your guests with this book on your coffee table. Let the book do the work for you! 


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  • This Book is Literally Just Pictures of Cute Animals that will Make You Feel Better 

    If the animals judging you was too much, this book will make you feel better. 

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  • Architectural Digest at 100: A Century of Style

    Just having this book will elevate your street cred. It covers a century of beautiful décor from people with taste. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for your own home! 

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  • Beautiful Machines 

    I love cars. My husband loves cars. My kids love cars. They can be glamorous or rugged, chic or utilitarian. You can tell a lot about a person by the car they drive. Or the car they gaze at in this book of beautiful machines. 

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  • 1000 Record Covers 

    Remember albums? Remember how much you used to love listening to your favorite artist while hold the album cover and studying the art, reading the notes? This book is the perfect gift for the music lover in your life. 

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  • Book Lover Reading Challenge  

    If you have a book lover on your gift giving list, this “coffee table book of books” is perfect for them! When you finish a task on the pages of the book, you open the envelope to claim your prize. Some challenges include: Read a new book that is primarily intended for children, and Re-read a classic that you read in high school.  

    Get It Now From Uncommon Goods
  • Washington Post Birthday Book 

    This book is a wonderful gift idea for that person who seems to have everything. It’s a beautiful binding of the newspaper headlines from your birthday, every year of your life (so far). Yes, it makes a great birthday gift, but I think it also works for the holidays if you give it to someone with whom you do not exchange birthday presents. 

    Get It Now From Uncommon Goods
  • Art: The Definitive Visual Guide 

    Have you ever heard terms like “Italian Renaissance” and “Impressionism” but never really knew what it meant? This book covers … get ready for it … 30,000 years of art. From cave drawings to the art of today. It is a beautiful book of beautiful work. 

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  • Coffee Table Book Brainteaser  

    SURPRISE! While this is not the kind of book you read, it will look provide hours of entertainment. I love a good brainteaser and this one is chunky enough for little hands, but challenging enough for adults.  

    Get It Now From Uncommon Goods
  • The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big and Small 

    This book is perfect for the adventurer. Or the person who wishes he/she were. You will find yourself getting lost in these places, and maybe even booking a trip! 

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  • 100 Hikes of a Lifetime 

    Great for the outdoorsy friend who is always ready to get up and go. Give them the gift of great hiking ideas! This book includes beautiful photos and know-before-you-go tips from experts.  

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