When Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul,” I think we can agree he had a very good point. It’s why I’m a big advocate of having books sprinkled all through your house.
Yes, on shelves is preferable. The piles of books all over my bedroom floor that have formed their own maze and silently judge me as I try to slither by without knocking anything over are… not the best idea. (Honestly make yourself the perfect reading nook instead. It’ll save your life.) But leaving books out in strategic places for casual perusal is actually a good thing!
I strive to live in a house where you can walk into each room and pick up a book.
Some books are better for picking up and thumbing through casually. For instance, placing inviting tomes on your coffee table is such a good idea.
If you have guests over, you can leave intriguing and accessible types of books lying around so that your guests will be momentarily distracted and start turning pages and give you that much-needed chance to escape to the bathroom and ask yourself why even you invited guests over in the first place. (You could be reading! Ah, regrets!)
Also, curating books for display in your home is always a good idea. It shows what kind of person you are. It shows your love of books. And a bonus, it’s another reason to… buy more books. (Shh, you know you want to buy all the books anyway, especially since your life goal is to have our own private library.)
What kind of books should you have on your coffee table?
Picking up Lord of the Rings to read a chapter randomly isn’t exactly what we have in mind. And while there’s nothing like a Tolkien book to start up a conversation (“Have you read this or just seen the movies?”) or remind you that you’re hungry (do not underestimate the Hobbit foodie chapters), let’s figure out some better options on what to leave on your coffee table for guests to peruse while they visit.
- Home décor books. These are such a good idea because they’re inspiring and gorgeous and they remind you why you need to get rich and famous so you can have walls covered in flowers and a glass chandelier.
- Nature photography collections. I quite like these because I’m addicted to looking at beautiful shots. Scenery. Oceans. Natural wonders. Animals. These kind of books are not only examples of the incredible fortitude and talent of the photographers, but a gorgeous reminder of the beautiful and vast world we live in. I really don’t think I’ll ever go snorkeling, so please leave me with a book with double-page spreads of reefs and coral fish.
- Cookbooks! Most people assume cookbooks belong in the kitchen but hear me out: cooking is a lot of work and when you finish making something, people just eat it. It’s all very disappointing. Whereas looking at pictures of food is a lot less work. Also, the food is so gorgeous. People can be true artists with food! While my cheesecake stuck to the pan, I like to gaze admirably at gorgeously decorated cheesecakes in glossy hi-definition photos. I page through foodie magazines a lot while I eat and it’s inspiring! As well as makes me hungrier.
- Fashion books. Most of the outfits we see walking the fashion runways aren’t things we’d actually wear. Exactly 50% of my brain goes, “Why do they exist,” while the rest of me has just launched into, “PRETTY!” We should appreciate art of all sorts! Have some extravagant fashion books on your coffee table too, even if you’ve worn that same pair of jeans for a week.
- Architecture. This goes hand-in-hand with interior design. There are some fascinating structures in the world, from the famous Louvre or Tower of Pisa to just everyday houses and quaint 19th-century mansions or rows of villas. Grab a book that has examples of architecture from all around the world!
- Retro children’s books. There’s nothing like looking at illustrations done fifty years ago and appreciating the style (or giggling… no judgment here). But seriously, stack a few of these around the house and reminisce, or at least impress your grandparents when they visit.
Find the perfect reading chair here.
5 Books to Leave On Your Coffee Table
1. Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
With 7.5 billion people on this planet, it’s incredible just to think about how many life stories there are that will never be told. You might walk past dozens of people as you go to work every day, and each one of them has a story. It makes you curious, doesn’t it?
I really love the Facebook page Humans of New York, run by photojournalist Brandon Stanton, and here it is in book form! It’s absolutely perfect for your coffee table because it’s full of candid, beautiful, and natural shots of everyday people, coupled with a snippet of their life story.
Sometimes wretched truths, sometimes beautiful realities, some times comments that are heavy or lovely or both. It’s looking through the crack of a keyhole into someone’s life at the truths they choose to share to perfect strangers. It’s also lovely to see professional photographs of just everyday people going about their lives in New York. This one is a must-read.
2. The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries
Here is where architecture and bookworm appreciation collide. There’s nothing more entrancing to a reader than talking about historic and gorgeous libraries, preferably those with exquisite shelves and Renaissance paintings and gilded ladders.
It makes for the perfect coffee table book as it reminds you of your love for novels in the moments you don’t have time to settle down and read an entire book. The book is quite weighty and contains mostly European libraries.
Some of the featured libraries are Vatican Apostolic Library, Trinity College Library, Laurentian Library in Florence and the private library of the House of Medici (designed by Michelangelo himself). This whole novel will likely make you hungry to travel the world and gaze upon ancient and famous manuscripts, preserved from even the middle ages.
3. Houseplants and Hot Sauce: A Seek-And-Find Book For Grown-Ups
Adults still like picture books. It’s the truth! And if ever there is a casual reason to flip through an illustrated book, you can bet adults will still want to do it. This book is rather a gem of perfection for being interactive and beautiful.
It’s something you can languidly page through or pause and do the seek-and-find challenges. The illustrations are also beautiful, intricate, and complex, making them a treat for the eyes. And priced at under $20 it’s an excellent way to start off your coffee table collection.
4. Trees: Between Heaven and Earth
Filled with breathtaking nature photography, this is the kind of volume that will fill your heart with the goodness of the great outdoors. While you (probably) are still sitting indoors with your tea (it’s fine, I get it, the indoors is much safer), books like these are a way to stay connected with nature.
I have a deep love of trees so this book is just phenomenal as it captures shots of both famous trees and beautiful landscapes and forests. At over 300 pages, it’s a large book, too, so you’re definitely getting your tree’s worth.
Yes, this is a cookbook, but probably not one the average cook will take to with gusto because the recipes are both gorgeous and complex… and complexly gorgeous. But just because you’re not baking an extravagant cake every weekend (if you are, though, I think we should be friends…) doesn’t mean you can’t admire them.
With this book on your coffee table, it will both inspire you and make you wistful that you didn’t become a pastry chef in your youth. So whet your appetite with this eye candy cookbook by Yotam Ottelenghi and Helen Goh, with award-winning photos of desserts like Blackberry and Star Anise Friands, Persian Love Cakes, Orange and Honey Madeleines, and Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs.
It’s an inspiring delight. As the book says: ‘There’s nothing like a perfectly light sponge flavoured with spices and citrus or an icing-sugar-dusted cookie to raise the spirits and create a moment of pure joy.’
About the Author
CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels and blogs at paperfury.com.