Christmas Around the Coffee Table

By Diane Parfitt

You may have gone on vacation and bought one of those oversized books with pictures of the places you just visited – the cityscapes, famous historic sites, and national parks with mountain top venues or waterfalls, for example. If so, you know that these “coffee table books” mean more than just overweight baggage on your return trip! They remind us years later of a wonderful vacation and the good times we had. Their pictures are way better than most of us amateurs can get with our own camera or phones. Displayed in the open on the coffee table, they are great conversation starters and fun to how friends. Coffee table books about art dazzle us with beautiful images of original works that few of us can afford. Even if we cannot own an original, we can have a book that shows the beauty created by one or several of our favorite artists. My fave is American glass artist Dale Chihuly and I get chills up and down my spine when I see his work, even if itis just a picture in a book. Coffee table books may be expensive when new (especially at the resort gift shop!), but you often find them in used bookstores (check out your local favorite!) at affordable prices and in excellent condition. Think about buying one as a Christmas gift for a friend who appreciates recycling. Better yet, buy one for yourself to pore over as you plana trip for the coming year.

  1. Christmas In America” by David Elliott Cohen (Editor)

From Thanksgiving to Epiphany, 100of our country’s best photographers capture how we prepare and celebrate the holidays all across America. One photographer, Rick Smolan, the creator of the “A Day in the Life” series, shows us myriad versions of Christmas to enjoy any day of the year.

2.“That’s My Life “by Tina Turner

This visual memoir of her life was compiled to celebrate her 80th birthday last year. Tina Turner shares the story of her lonely childhood and her rebirth as a musician and a Buddhist. “I vowed that someday I’d sing my music, my way,” she said, “It took me a little time to get there, but it was my destiny.”

3.“Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time “by Chronicle Books

 For those concerned about our changing climate, this book features the work of 12 photographers who demonstrate some of the greatest threats to our planet today. Images of the decimation of our forests and oceans by man and nature, changes caused by industrialization and poverty and loss of habitat endangering many species are depicted in powerful images.

4.“Ballparks Past and Present “by Graphic Image

Who would have thought there was so much history related to the major league ballparks around the United States? This definitive guide provides the history of every park with hundreds of stories, photos, and stats about them. New and old fans of baseball will find this useful for checking off the ones they have visited and the ones still on their list.

5.“The Nightmare Before Christmas: Advent Calendar and Pop-Up Book Calendar “by Insight Editions 

I love pop-up books! Not exactly coffee table books, but they can be. When you have children in your home or visiting, they will be enchanted with this pop-up advent calendar based on Tim Burton’s iconic film. Included are 25ornaments for the tree, each hidden in a compartment – from a skeletal reindeer to a man-eating wreath. Yuck! The kids will love it!

6.“1000 Record Covers “by Michael OchsIn

 This book, the music of the past and the resurgence of vinyl records invites us on a walk down memory lane. This collection of 1000 covers highlights such topics as love, life, death, fashion, and rebellion, reflecting a particular time on our own lives as well as our cultural history.