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The 30 Best Coffee Table Books of the Year

Rap chronicles, style bibles and four unique takes on erotica make the cut.

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Coffee-table books say as much about the people who own them as the people who write them.

They exist not to be read, but rather to comment favorably on the good tastes of their owner.

But the coffee-table book is also a time capsule of the era that bore it. Flip to the title page, locate the publishing date, and you’ll have a window into the things people valued in that moment: what they ate, where they lived, how they dressed.

So consider this a look back at the lifestyle trends of 2018, as memorialized by 30 of the most beautiful hard-bound photographic tomes that were released this year.

From old-school hip-hop chronicles to luxury watches to four diverse takes on the human body in all its birthday-suited glory, a feast for the eyes awaits.

AMERICAN CULTURE

New York by New York by Wendell Jamieson
Assouline

New York by New York by Wendell Jamieson

Checking in at 11 lbs. and 368 pages, this volume features photos, illustrations and excerpts from a who’s who of the city’s most prominent shutterbugs, artist and writers through the ages.
BUY IT HERE

Tangentially Parenthetical by Ed Templeton
Um Yeah Arts

coffee table books
Tangentially Parenthetical by Ed Templeton

Gents of a certain age will remember Ed Templeton as a legendary pro skateboarder and founder of Toy Machine in the 1990s, perhaps not realizing that in later years he’s carved out quite the niche for himself as a celebrated photographer and contemporary artist. His new, limited edition book “tells hundreds of new stories through the thoughtful arrangement of semi-related, yet completely unfastened imagery” — we’ll translate that to “takes you on a fun mental journey via weird photos that kinda maybe don’t seem like they go together, but maybe kinda do.” Also comes with a signed limited-edition print that, if Templeton’s current trajectory holds, may be worth a pretty penny someday.
BUY IT HERE

Christopher Street, 1976 by Sunil Gupta
Stanley Barker

coffee table books
Christopher Street, 1976 by Sunil Gupta

Before the AIDS crisis and after Stonewall, New York’s gay community had, in many senses, its Golden Age. This is photographer and activist Sunil Gupta’s definitive yet highly personal portrait of that cultural moment, as told through the intimate black-and-white photos he snapped while wandering the West Village.
BUY IT HERE

The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual by Andrew Moisey
Daylight Books

coffee table books
The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual by Andrew Moisey

Since its infancy, the survival of American frat culture has depended on a pact of omertà among its members: brotherhood and loyalty above all, even when upholding those values breaches ethical and legal boundaries. Thus, this book represents a watershed moment, insofar as photographer Andrew Moisey was allowed unfettered access to document the rites, rituals and bacchanals of a chapter at UC Berkeley from 2000-2006. The results are expectedly upsetting; whether they’ll provoke a reaction from the culture at large remains to be seen.
BUY IT HERE

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza
Little, Brown and Company

coffee table books
Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza

Little, Brown and Company
This provocative book from former White House photographer Souza juxtaposes behind-the-scenes photos from the tenure of our 44th president with tweets, headlines and quotes from the tenure of our 45th. No matter your opinion on either, the dissonance is striking.
BUY IT HERE

CONSUMPTION

Choose Your Wine in 7 Seconds: Instantly Understand Any Wine With Confidence by Stephane Rosa and Jess Grinneiser
Rizzoli

coffee table books
Choose Your Wine in 7 Seconds: Instantly Understand Any Wine With Confidence by Stephane Rosa and Jess Grinneiser

As a paperback, your correspondents weren’t quite sure if this qualified as a “coffee table book,” but ultimately the prospect of an idiot-proof infographic guide to the traditionally flowery world of wine description triumphed over our concerns over cover rigidity. User friendly, intuitive and most importantly, designed to have you navigating even the most intimidating wine list like a champ in no time.
BUY IT HERE

Cocaïn: History and Culture
Assouline

coffee table books
Cocaïn: History and Culture

Before the glamor and destruction, cocaine was best known for its (alleged) therapeutic benefits, which date back centuries and span cultures and continents. Cocaïn attempts to chart that evolution, separating fact from fiction in terms both biological and anthropological.
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Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan
Ten Speed Press

coffee table books
Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions by Alex Day, Nick Fauchald and David Kaplan

The team behind NYC’s Death & Co deliver a beautiful looking cocktail book (natch), but it’s the presentation here that should get you excited. Basically, the authors start with six core cocktails that you know and love (from the Old Fashioned to the Daiquiri) and progress the recipes from there. Once you understand these drink templates, you can truly begin to master cocktailing.
BUY IT HERE

The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber
Artisan

coffee table books
The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber

Chef René Redzepi abides a philosophy of hyper-locality, asserting that any region’s cuisine should be dependent on the ingredients afforded by its surroundings. In Copenhagen, where his exalted restaurant Noma is located, that means getting creative when the notably barren Scandinavian winter sets in. Thus, Redzepi has developed some of the most complex methods of preservation on earth — methods that he shares in detail here for DIY gastronomes everywhere.
BUY IT HERE

STYLE

Rolex: The Impossible Collection by Fabienne Reybaud
Assouline

coffee table books
Rolex: The Impossible Collection by Fabienne Reybaud

Really, what’s left to say about Rolex? Enough to fill 194 pages, apparently. Arranged by Fabienne Reybaud, senior editor of watches and jewelry for the French newspaper Le Figaro, this volume tracks down Rolex enthusiasts around the globe to evince a comprehensive brand profile that stretches all the way back to 1905.
BUY IT HERE

The Complete Highsnobiety Guide to Street Fashion and Culture
Gestalten

coffee table books
The Complete Highsnobiety Guide to Street Fashion and Culture

As the Venn diagram of music, art, fashion and street culture continues to overlap, global authorities Highsnobiety affirm their place as the movement’s unofficial historians with their first hardcover tome. Featuring treatises on everything from Commes des Garcon to Pusha-T, a must-own for sneaker-sportin’ devotees of the era of creative crossover.
BUY IT HERE

Stan Smith: Some People Think I’m a Shoe by Stan Smith
Rizzoli

coffee table books
Stan Smith: Some People Think I’m a Shoe by Stan Smith

Smith’s brilliantly titled tome charts the meteoric rise of his iconic tennis sneaker, complete with historical photos, treatises from style mavens like Raf Simmons and Pharrell and an exclusive portrait series shot by artist Juergen Teller. But the recollections and anecdotes from Stan the Man himself provide wonderful insight into the former world champ and the era in which he played as well.
BUY IT HERE

Rankin: Unfashionable, 30 Years of Photography by Rankin
Rizzoli

coffee table books
Rankin: Unfashionable, 30 Years of Photography by Rankin

Few have left such an indelible mark on the worlds of fashion, photography and popular culture as British polymath Rankin, who personally edited this, the first retrospective of his entire career. Three decades of provocative imagery (remember a topless Heidi Klum defiantly flipping the bird?) are highlighted, from portraits to fashion spreads to the artists earliest polaroids.
BUY IT HERE

See the rest at InsideHook

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