9 Stunning Coffee Table Books You’ll Actually Want To Read

They're equal parts style and substance.

coffee table books
Image: Alec Kugler via coveteur.com

I have a terrible habit of buying books I never read. Seriously, I have a huge bookshelf stacked with so many books (all colour coded, because #shelfiestyle) that I literally can’t fit another one in there — and I’ve probably read a quarter of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. I’ve been known to plow through six books during a two week holiday. But during my everyday life, I find I just don’t have time to pick up a book as often as I’d like. But does that stop me from purchasing them every time I step foot in a bookstore? Of course not!

Perhaps the thing I’m most guilty of is buying coffee table books as decorations. I can’t help myself, they’re just the perfect finishing touch to a stylish living room! I’ll flick through the contents of the books in the bookshop, artfully arrange it on my coffee table and literally never open it again. It’s a shame — because many coffee table books are just as great on the inside as they are on the outside.

So, I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to judge a book by its cover. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to buy books that clash with my coffee table decor. We can’t have that! Rather, I’m going to opt for coffee table books that are equal parts style and substance. Luckily, there are plenty out there that are not only stunningly designed but great reads, too. They’ll look great on your coffee table — if you can manage to actually put them down! Here are some of our top picks:

1. Influence

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Gen Y girl who wasn’t obsessed with Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen at one time or another. The aptly-titled ‘Influence’ is not only a gorgeous monochrome coffee table book, but also a collection of interviews with some of their style inspirations, including Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, and Diane Von Furstenberg.

Shop Influence.

2. Love Style Life

Speaking of style, this book an absolute essential for fashion-lovers. There’s a good reason you’ll find it on the coffee table of pretty much every fashion blogger (and not just because of its pretty blush cover!) The book is an absolute goldmine for valuable life lessons in —you guessed it — love, style and life from French photographer, blogger, and illustrator Garance Dore.

Shop Love Style Life.

3. Carry This Book

Image: oxfordstudent.com

Comedy fans will know Abbi Jacobsen as her namesake from the ridiculously hilarious Broad City. But did you know she’s also a talented illustrator? In this entertaining coffee table book, she imagines what the handbags of celebs like Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, and Michelle Obama would look like. Not only will it brighten up your own coffee table, it’s the perfect gift for that quirky friend who’s impossible to buy for.

Shop Carry This Book.

4. All In Good Taste

What’s the point of having gorgeous coffee table books if you don’t have guests over to admire them? This book from fashion designer Kate Spade teaches you how to do just that! It’s the ultimate guide to organising chic get-togethers, filled with personal essays, tips, and ideas. Oh, and as you would expect from someone with taste as good as Kate’s, there’s some gorgeous images and typography in there, too.

Shop All In Good Taste.

5. My Bucket List

Travel lovers, this one’s for you! The ‘My Bucket List’ from Axel and Ash is part coffee table book, part travel guide, and part journal! It’s packed with questionnaires, travel tips and interviews with inspiring people like Lisa Messenger, Felicity Palmateer, and Kayla Itsines. We guarantee that if you don’t already have a serious case of wanderlust, you will after you read this book!

Shop My Bucket List.

6. Bad Girls Throughout History

Ever heard the expression “Well behaved women rarely make history?” This coffee table book is a tribute to all those rebellious women who challenged the status quo and changed the world. The gorgeously illustrated book profiles 100 of these game-changing ‘bad’ girls, from Cleopatra to Joan Jett.

Shop Bad Girls Throughout History.

7. IT

Image: houseofphilia.elsasentourage.se

Not to be confused with the Stephen King book of the same name about the creepy clown (probably don’t display that on your coffee table), IT is a memoir from fashion influencer Alexa Chung. The pretty, pink book features a collection of writing, doodles and photos that give you a sneak peek into the IT girl’s fabulous life.

Shop IT.

8. Humans of New York

Although it was released 7 years ago, this remains of the most genuinely fascinating coffee table books we’ve ever seen. This definitely isn’t just one you’ll mindlessly flick through while you’re watching TV. Just like the Humans of New York Facebook page, the book is a collection of beautiful photos of New Yorkers, accompanied with their funny and sometimes heartbreaking stories.

Shop Humans of New York.

9. Nasty Galaxy

We’ve written before about our love of Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal and the #GirlBoss empire. This lavishly-designed coffee table book is pretty much the ultimate life bible for budding girl bosses. Not only is it a visual compendium of Sophia’s own influences, it features tips and stories from more of the world’s most inspiring ladies.

Shop Nasty Galaxy.