24 Feb 2016

Published in 2010, this little book went viral on Tumblr, becoming the most reblogged post in the site’s history at the time. Writers Avery Monsen and Jory John weren’t quite expecting the success, but rolled with it, taking a publishing history that started with blogging and ending with it on your coffee table. This is a black comedy that took the internet by storm.

1. All My Friends are Dead

Published in 2010, this little book went viral on Tumblr, becoming the most reblogged post in the site’s history at the time. Writers Avery Monsen and Jory John weren’t quite expecting the success, but rolled with it, taking a publishing history that started with blogging and ending with it on your coffee table.

This is a black comedy that took the internet by storm. It’s recognisable, cute, funny, and endearing in an oh-god-the-tragedy sense.

A simple tale of having friends, and then not having friends. Because your friends are dead. Heartwarming.

2. National Geographics World’s Best Travel Experiences

The best of the best that the world has to offer, narrated by the seasoned travellers who explored it all first hand.

If you ever need to kick back and dream of greener pastures, there’s none greener (or bluer, or just about any colour you wish to name) than these. You can’t go better for artistry and capturing the essential feel of the destination than National Geographic. They’re always in waiting rooms for a reason!

3. Lonely Planet’s Great Journeys

For some people it’s about the journey rather than the destination. If you care less about where you end up, and would rather just revel in the tale, then give Nat Geo a miss and go for this collection of scenes from the most perilous, beautiful, or just plain intrepid walks on the planet.
Even if you don’t quite have the time to go walkabout for the months it can take to undergo these trips, they’re worth experiencing; if just securely from the comfort of your own home.

4. Tulsa

A flagship book, and one deserving of its place on not just your coffee table, but the coffee table of history.

When Larry Clark released Tulsa in 1971, it brought the problems of Middle America into the spotlight. Drugs, alcohol, violence, and sex were in the spotlight, and they showed a culture killing itself slowly from the hidden issues denied by social institutions for years.

It’s been reprinted more times than you can care to mention, and some of the images might be a little confronting (it’s certainly not for everyone), but it’s a photographic album and a social history balled into one.

5. HR Giger’s Retrospective 1964-1984

Last weird one, we promise.

H R Giger is the mind behind the concept art for Alien, those towering bio-mechanical structures that twist and turn unsettlingly in the mind.

If you’re more into the weird, grotesque, and provoking than the gauche, and exploratory, Giger has some of the most astounding artwork of the 20th century.

70 illustrations, with commentary by the man himself. Not for the faint-hearted.

6. Jay-Z’s Decoded

Rapper Jay-Z doesn’t seem the type to relax with some light coffee table reading. Nonetheless, there’s a beauty behind the lyrics espoused in this book.

Self-described as a “candid memoir detailing the story of a man who was boring in a Brooklyn housing project, spent his teen years dealing drugs on the streets of Trenton…and grew up to be one of his generation’s most successful artists and businessmen”.

If you’re not a fan of Jay-Z, but love the genre, try the bestselling The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed instead.

7. 100 Years of Fashion Illustration

The three most popular things people want on their table are culture, nature, and beauty, and so far we’ve neglected the latter. Not anymore — 100 Years of Fashion Illustration is just that, a smorgasbord of the greatest illustrators of the time showcasing their best work.

Travel through the last century of beautiful things, the social currents and fashion dynamics that shaped them, and the culture that shaped around them.

8. Flower

Sometimes it’s the simple ones that are the best.

Flower is a collection by famous photographer Andrew Zuckerman, containing 150 close-ups of the best of botanical life. They’re simply presented — the subject against a white background, with no adornments and minimal posing.

A perfect idle flipping book for anyone that appreciates some repose. Colourful and with a certain dignitas about it.

By the same author, for those looking for fauna instead of flora — Creature and Bird. Same vein of photos, different subjects.

9. National Geographics The Photographs

One final piece by National Geographic, and one of the best-selling coffee table books of all time.

If there’s a famous photo that you can think of, odds are it’s in this book. Containing the most poignant photos of the age of photography, it’s an exploration of the world through the camera lens; the very greatest photographers in the history of their trade’s masterworks laid bare.