6 artsy coffee table books to gift your fancy friends

The very best presents have heft. Call it a Pavlovian holdover from childhood, but it’s thrilling to find out the biggest gift in the pile is for you. For this reason and many more, giving a gorgeous coffee table book is a pro move. They’re substantial enough that they feel special. It’s a present you can customize based on whatever hobby or interest your loved one is into. If the recipient proudly displays their new book as intended, it’s like you gave them fine art and a fancy new hardcover. Check out our guide to some of the best new coffee table books out there, below:

RIHANNA: FENTY X PHAIDON

When Rihanna announced the publication of her book of photographs, her social media channels heralded it as the singer’s “first piece of art in a new industry.” Phaidon, the publisher, described it as a “visual autobiography” filled with “intimate photographs of her life as an artist, performer, designer, and entrepreneur.” Rihanna, the book, transfigures Rihanna, the celebrity, into an actual work of art you can buy, own, and display. It comes in four editions, and we recommend the limited-edition FENTY X PHAIDON version, on sale for $140, which comes with a “tattooed hand” metal stand designed by artists The Haas Brothers.

SILVER. SKATE. SEVENTIES.

This collection of photographs by Hugh Holland captures the singular vibe of the skateboarding scene in Southern California between 1975 and 1978. His high-contrast, sun-drenched images document the reckless, exhilarating origins of skate lifestyle and culture. Holland followed SoCal skaters around for years, producing stunning photographs of the requisite tan, blonde men in tube socks and Vans — but staged against a gritty, drought-plagued landscape.

ATLAS OF MID-CENTURY MODERN HOUSES

While some architecture enthusiasts choose to spend their precious vacation time visiting landmark buildings, this stunning coffee table book packs more than 400 of the world’s most glamorous homes into a single, stylish hardcover. Get this one for the mid-century design fiend in your life.

PLANT: EXPLORING THE BOTANICAL WORLD

Millennial houseplant fever has been widely documented in the press, but the phenomenon isn’t that hard to understand, really. In an era of deep socio-political uncertainty, when most young people can’t afford their own “somewhere that’s green,” filling your tiny apartment with photosynthetic friends is a way of cultivating something healthy, beautiful, and orderly. Deepen someone’s relationship with their houseplants by giving them this verdant visual guide to the beauty and diversity of the botanical world.

THE NEW BLACK VANGUARD: PHOTOGRAPHY BETWEEN ART AND FASHION

Curator and critic Antwaun Sargent chronicles a radical transformation taking place in fashion and art today in his luscious, celebratory book of photography, The New Black Vanguard. On one front, the presentation of black runway and cover models has become a marker of inclusivity in these industries. But a powerful cohort of international black photographers has also infused the new wave of imagery with vitality, context, and substance. A must-have for the emerging art buff in your life.

HI-FI: THE HISTORY OF HIGH-END AUDIO DESIGN

This beautiful tome is for the passionate audiophiles, obsessive collectors and/or design fiends out there. Hi-Fi is a love letter to all things analog, tracing the technology’s roots in the 1950s to the current vinyl renaissance.