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The Bigger, the Better: The Best New Coffee Table Books of 2022

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Sourcebooks

A groundbreaking reimagining of Hollywood’s most beloved films with visionary photographer Carell Augustus creating a “who’s who” of today’s Black entertainers recreating iconic cinematic scenes.

Compiled over the course of ten years and highlighting more than sixty-five stars such as Vanessa Williams, Dulé Hill, Shermar Moore and more, Augustus says “Black Hollywood is not just a book for Black people — it’s a book for all people about Black people. About the dreams we were never told we could achieve. About the places we were never told we could go. And now, finally, about how we can get there.”

What is a coffee table book? It’s a general term usually given to large books full of illustrations, usually bigger in size than the average hardcover book. The term originated in the 1960s, and has stuck with us ever since. Basically, it’s the books you can’t easily fit on your shelves. Art books are probably the most popular of this subset of books. You can get beautiful coffee table books that weigh more than a small dog and contain images of artwork you want to hang on your wall. It’s hard to recommend coffee table books because their subjects are as varied as people’s interests, but there are always many each year that work for everyone because they’re so fascinating and beautiful. That’s why we have this list of ten of the best coffee table books of 2022.

Below you will find eye-pleasing artwork in all mediums, pictures of amazing places and amazing faces, fabulous photos of flora and fauna, and more. These visually stunning books belong on coffee tables, bedside tables, kitchen tables, dining tables, operating tables. Okay, maybe not that last one, for hygienic reasons, but you get the picture. And now get ready for more pictures, as this list takes you on a tour that will please your eyes and your brain!

cover of Feeling Seen: The Photographs of Campbell Addy; photo of a Black woman in a bright red latex dress and white headscarf

Feeling Seen: The Photographs of Campbell Addy by Campbell Addy, Edward Enninful, Ekow Eshun 

Addy is one of the rising stars of the photography scene and is sure to be remembered as one of the great artists of the early 21st century. His work is a little bit David LaChapelle, a little bit Annie Lebowitz. He has taken striking photographs of celebrities like FKA Twigs and Kendall Jenner for the cover of magazines such as Rolling Stone and Time.

cover of Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle; photograph of a drag queen in a wildly inventive rainbow outfit

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle by Elissa Auther, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, David Román, Taylor Mac, madison moore

This is a glorious collection of photographs of the work of the much sought-after costume creator Machine Dazzle. Dazzle’s creations are a staple for popular cabaret, drag, and performance stars, such as Justin Vivian Bond and Taylor Mac. Auther had curated a fun, gorgeous selection for the book.

cover of Andinos: Encounters in Cusco, Peru; photo of a Latine woman carrying a baby on her back

Andinos: Encounters in Cusco, Peru by Gabriel Barreto Bentin

Rizzoli is one of the biggest names in coffee book publishers. They always have dozens of incredible books each year. This one is a great human interest book. It’s like a Humans of New York book, but set in Peru. Barreto Bentin photographed and interviewed dozens of the Andean peoples, and it gives readers a great view into modern Andean society.

cover of Migrations: A History of Where We All Came From; photos of migrants throughout history

Migrations: A History of Where We All Came From by DK, David Olusoga

Humans have been moving around for about as long as there have humans, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Starting 50,000 years ago and covering migration up through present-day, this is a fascinating look at how we got where we are.

coverof The Science of Plants: Inside Their Secret World; photograph of a cactus

The Science of Plants: Inside Their Secret World by DK

DK makes some of the most amazing guides and art books; no other publisher fills their books with as many photos as DK. Which is why they are on the list twice. This is a photo extravaganza about plants and a collection of many of the cool things we know about them. It’s a great book for people who love to learn, botany fans, and anyone who appreciates books with amazing pictures.

cover of To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood; collage work of several young Black children

To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood by Naima J. Keith

This book isn’t out until December, but deserves a mention, because it’s such an interesting subject. Keith has curated a stunning selection of works with childhood themes from many famous artists, including Ann Agee, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jordan Casteel, Paul Klee, Oscar Murillo, Berenice Olmedo, Charles Ray, and Carmen Winant.

cover of The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World; photograph of the author at a tropical beach

The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World by Jessica Nabongo

This book is part travelogue, part photography book. Nabongo is the first Back woman on record to visit all 195 countries in the world. 195 COUNTRIES. Amazing! She captured her journey in words and incredible photographs of every place she visited.

cover of Lost Places: Images of Bygone America; photograph of an abandoned diner

Lost Places: Images of Bygone America by Heribert Niehues

This is a book of award-winning photographs about a very popular subject: abandoned places. Cue up The Specials, because Niehues visited ghost towns and once-popular places now long forgotten, and documented them in all their eerie beauty.

MUTTS: A Celebration of Mystery Mixed Breeds; photograph of a shaggy white dog book cover

MUTTS: A Celebration of Mystery Mixed Breeds by Olivia Grey Pritchard

No list of coffee table books would be complete without at least one book of adorable animal photos! A lot of emphasis is put on particular breeds of dogs, but this is a look at tons of adorable dogs who, while they may not have a high pedigree, certainly have a high place in our hearts.

cover of Nigel Sylvester: GO; image of Sylveter with a silver BMX bike

Nigel Sylvester: GO by Nigel Sylvester, Harrison Boyce

Nigel Sylvester is a professional BMX athlete who has become a social media star and cultural icon. Boyce followed him around the world and shot photos of the young star as he worked and played — and even jumped out of a plane with his bike.


For more coffee table books and beautiful art, you can read here to learn a brief history of the coffee table book, and check out these great books about art.