Since I’ve been working full time, I’ve struggled to find the time to read. A few stolen moments with my Kindle on a packed commuter train, the sheer bliss of consuming an entire trilogy on a holiday – they’re all valuable to me, and my bookshelves are choc-a-bloc full of my favourites. And it’s not just my bookshelves either. There’s always one sat on my bedside table, magazines left in the bathroom, and one that I forgot about in that bag over there that I haven’t used since that time I went to festival dedicated to ice cream (that’s a real thing by the way, I pretty much passed out from sugar induced glee). But now I have a flat of my own (well, rented with a friend) I’ve discovered a new realm of book awesomeness: the coffee table book.
These aren’t just tomes full of pretentious art that cost a fortune from a gift shop; they can be amazing, insightful and beautiful books that you can spend seconds or hours flicking through. My coffee table books are a conversation starter and an eye opener. Here’s my favourites:
Postsecret: A Lifetime of Secrets by Frank Warren
Be emotionally stable before you open this book. It will make you have all the feels as you browse the pages of postcards with people’s darkest secrets on them. From petty white lies to full blown confessions, this book highlights the truths of humanity in the most honest and open form. There is always one you can relate to, always one that seems to have been put in the book just for you at the very moment you’re reading it. It’s hard to put it down and not read it from cover to cover.
Information is Beautiful by David McCandless
Facts! Beautiful looking facts! Everything you never knew you wanted to know in stunning drawings, graphs and visualisations that make it easy to understand all manner of probably useless information. Who knew that a list of all the blocked sites in China could look so pretty? Who’d have thought anyone would have the patience to draw a detailed word map of clichés? And for you book lovers, there’s even a word cloud of which books you must read before you die. You didn’t know you needed this book, but oh look, turns out you do!
Other People’s Love Letters by Bill Shapiro
This book is like a Richard Curtis film. When I’m in a good mood it makes me feel like love is all around, and that the world is a beautiful and wonderful place. When I’m in a bad mood it makes me think that love is a stupid concept invented by Hallmark to make us all feel like crap. The love letters in this book are so unbelievably emotional and heartfelt that it’s sometimes difficult to read, but it’s ultimately worth it in the end. Maybe don’t read it around other people. I’m not crying, it’s just raining on my face.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
Missing having a real story? Picture books aren’t just for kids and this one is far too good to share with little ones. The huge hardback book is sketched in luscious black and white and tells an absolutely magical story that pulls you in and makes you feel wrapped up in such glorious fiction that you never want to come back to reality. It’s a coffee table book that is actually better read from start to finish, so make sure you won’t be interrupted.
Next on my list is the book of the amazing Facebook page ‘Humans of New York’, but to paraphrase that most intellectual of films, “We’re gonna need a bigger coffee table.”