An Ode to Coffee Table Books

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Even posing the question: What's on your coffee table? seems like a weirdly in-authentic thing for me to do. As the honest answer (for years) would probably be: I don't know, mail I got 3 months ago I can't bring myself to open?

However, I am trying to turn over this new leaf in life where I stop random papers from conquering my apartment. I know! What a novel idea! Between this post and color-coding my bookshelf I'm on pace to turn this blog into a full-blown interior design resource. Move over, Emily Henderson.

Hahaha. Haha. Ha.

Anyway, I've been thinking lately that I do appreciate my current stack of coffee table books, for a multitude of previously unrealized reasons:

a.) They are fun to open when you have a few quick minutes to read, but don't have the time to get absorbed in a novel, and are sick of looking at screens.

b.) They are perfect to flip through during commercials or particularly boring sporting events. (I know, I can be such a bad former athlete. The truth is after playing sports competitively for years they lose some of their luster. Like how I once heard Lauren Graham never watches herself on T.V. she acts, and that's that. (I like this incredibly flawed analogy because I'm Lauren Graham in it.))

c.) The perfect stack makes me feel organized. (This is a lie, but I can ignore the heap of unfolded laundry on the couch, and focus on the perfectly constructed book stack.)

Here's my current stack! As you can see, I go for more word-driven versus picture-driven books, though obviously picture-focused coffee table books are pretty too.

1. WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A TED talk in a book form? Sign me up! This insightful essay inspired by her TEDx talk is worth reading all the way through, but makes for a pretty coffee table book due it's lovely cover and small size. The perfect stack-topper!

2. BRAVE ENOUGH by Cheryl Strayed. This (signed!) book is full of quotes from Tiny, Beautiful Things. I really do love it (and it's gorgeous green cover), but it's hard for me to tell if I'd appreciate it as much if I hadn't read Tiny Beautiful Things. Either way, I do think books of quotes make for great coffee table books!

3. THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo. So I've read this book cover to cover (and recommend it!) but the fun part about the format of this book to make it a good coffee table number is the way she bolds/italicizes key phrases.

4. OLD POSSUM'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS by T.S. Eliot. Much like #2, this is representative of a successful type of book that excel on the any given coffee table: poetry! I've been reading these fun, whimsical cat poems (on which the CATS musical was based) since childhood, and they never get old. Obviously, you might not want to put a thick tome of poems on your coffee table, but shorter, quick reads with mixed in illustrations are perfect, like this one by Amber Tamblyn or this one by Brian Andreas.

At the risk of sounding like Jennifer Garner in a Capitol One commercial: What's on your coffee table? :)

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