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Coffee-table books are the quintessential holiday gifts (much like candles)—they please the eye, look chic in any home, and you can find them in a variety of themes and photography styles. Art, travel, design, fashion, performing arts, and event space; 2022 gave us some pretty cool coffee-table books to choose from.
So whether you’re looking for a Christmas gift for your best friend who’s obsessed with Broadway plays or need a memorable holiday present for the fashionista in your life, we rounded up 15 publications to give this year.
For the Space Enthusiast: The Space Shuttle: A Mission-by-Mission Celebration of NASA’s Extraordinary Spaceflight Program
This tome is a 320-page celebration of NASA’s Space Shuttle program through photos taken by photojournalists, fine art photographers, and astronauts who took part in some of the program’s 135 missions over 30 years.
To shop: $38; amazon.com
For the Theater Fan: Designing Broadway
Tony Award-winning set designer Derek McLane and writer Eila Mell discuss some of the most spectacular set designs of past decades. The book features behind-the-scenes imagery and sketches from performers, designers, and other Broadway professionals and reveals fascinating stories behind some of America’s most beloved theater productions.
To shop: $45; amazon.com
For the Photography Fan: Annie Leibovitz
This incredible book celebrates 40 years of Annie Leibovitz’s groundbreaking work as one of the world’s most prolific and famous portrait photographers. From her early days as a photojournalist at Rolling Stone to her iconic photographs of the world’s political and pop culture elite, this book is a visual feast.
To shop: $116; amazon.com
For the Patti Smith-Obsessed: A Book of Days
Performer, poet, and visual artist; Patti Smith does it all. And in this 400-page book, Smith documents her her Instagram journey, which started on March 20, 2018, and chronicles her life, home, and career in 365 photographs.
To shop: $23; amazon.com
For the History Buff: Our America: A Photographic History
For this new book, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has edited hundreds of photographs depicting the history of our nation—its highs and lows, the beauty of its national parks and bustling cities, and its struggles and celebrations. It is a striking photo portrait of almost 200 years of the American experiment.
To shop: $65; amazon.com
For the Budding Ornithologist: Bird Planet: A Photographic Journey
Tim Laman is one of the most celebrated bird photographers. Here, he takes the reader on a tour of all five continents, documenting some of the world’s most photogenic birds over his 30-year career.
To shop: $54; amazon.com
For the Surfer (and 2YK/Zine Devotee): I Just Wanna Surf
In her fascinating photography book inspired by 2YK zines, Black photographer and surfer Gabriella Angotti-Jones documents surfing through the eyes of Black female and non-binary surfers—a perspective often ignored by professional surfing media and the sport’s big fashion and gear brands. The book has been shortlisted for the 2022 Aperture PhotoBook Awards.
To shop: massbooks.co; $40
For the Gender-Equality Activist: The Only Woman
This book documents one hundred women in history from nearly 20 countries who defied social norms and became the only woman in a male-dominated field, whether it’s art, science, sports, or music.
To shop: $26; amazon.com
For the Home Décor Lover: AphroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home
Discover the family stories and rich cultural traditions that influenced the home design and decor of some of the most influential Black Americans, including the DC rowhouse of Jason Reynolds. Hailed as one of “the most important design books of our time,” this colorful book also explores the challenges and struggles Black homeowners still face.
To shop: $32; amazon.com
For the British Royal Family Obsessed: HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style
Veteran journalist Elizabeth Holmes explores royal style and analyzes the fashion choices of the four women who have influenced modern fashion the most: Queen Elizabeth II; Diana, Princess of Wales; Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge; and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. While you may not find any details of the latest royal drama in this book, there is plenty of style inspiration.
To shop: $18; amazon.com
For the Country Music Fan: Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics
This book features never-before-seen photos of one of country music’s biggest stars, Dolly Parton, along with the stories behind her biggest hits. Throughout this 380-page publication, Parton shares personal anecdotes and inspiration for more than 170 songs.
To shop: $25; amazon.com
For Ru Paul’s drag race Obsessed: Rainbow Revolution
For his new book, British photographer Magnus Hastings presented members of the LGBTQIA+ community with a plain white box and asked them to strike a pose in it. The result is a vibrant collection of more than 300 photographs and essays celebrating diversity and sexual and gender identity.
To shop: $34; amazon.com
For the Vintage Car Lover: Auto America: Car Culture: 1950s-1970s
John G. Zimmerman was an icon in sports photography, and this book highlights his work documenting America’s auto industry— and its most iconic cars—in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The book also reveals behind-the-scenes stories of some of the fascinating characters who designed, collected, and raced them.
To shop: $41; amazon.com
For the Art Aficionado: Treasures of Ukraine: A Nation’s Cultural Heritage
This gorgeous book documents the history of Ukrainian art and culture through more than 220 photographs of the country’s religious buildings, masterpieces, architectural monuments, and more.
To shop: $30; amazon.com
For Travelers and Nature Lovers: The Art of the National Parks
This book chronicles the Work Projects Administration’s 1930s posters of America’s National Parks through the lens—or rather brush—of contemporary artists. It features prints of the top ten most visited parks (according to the National Parks Service), along with facts and travel tips for visiting 59 of America’s 63 national parks.
To shop: $31; amazon.com