Books to Display on Your Coffee Table

Do you remember in Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood when Al would talk about the food he wanted to eat when he got his human form back? No? Just me? In any case, I feel the same way about getting an apartment. I already have a running list in my head of all of the things I can’t wait to fill a new apartment with (this dream may not be a reality for a while, but I don’t mind). And by “things” I want to fill my apartment with, I really mean “books.”

Although I usually tend to hoard novels and nonfiction books about literary theory and culture, I also have a soft spot in my heart for “decorative” books. When I go to my friends’ apartments and houses, I always like to have something to do or look at. My best friend actually kept a Rubik’s cube and a variety of little nicknacks on his desk for my enjoyment whenever I was over. Books can have the same purpose—they’re neat to keep around and look at, plus they can serve as conversation starters for guests.

Read on to see my favorite “coffee table” books!


My Ideal Bookshelf by Jane Mount is the perfect book to display if you’re a bibliophile. I think it’s totally neat to see what respected authors think are worth reading, plus the illustrations are cute. This book might even inspire you to grow your own collection (which I realize may or may not be a good thing…).





Displaying a children’s classic like Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)  around the house is always good for a nostalgia trip. Plus, should you choose to own the French version of the book, you might pick up a few French words (I find that watching children’s movies in another language is helpful because the words are more simple, and the same might be said for children’s books).




If you’re a fan of science, then The Where, The Why, and The How might be the perfect accessory for your coffee table. I really love books full of random facts, and for some reason this volume reminds me of the old BrainPOP online videos that illustrate scientific concepts. In any case, visual learners and science geeks will appreciate this tome.




The Mutter Museum Historical Medical Photographs, of the Philadelphia Mutter Museum, might be a little grotesque to display as a coffee table decoration, but it certainly can serve as a conversation starter. Although the “medical oddities” are interesting from a medical perspective (of which I have none), I’m more interested in learning about how the individuals featured in the book were treated or (probably) abused. We’ve come a long way from “Freak Shows” but the stories of these people are certainly worth telling.




I think that of all types of food, desserts have to be the prettiest. My mom used to own a book of Betty Crocker cakes and I would flip through it all the time. Bake It Like You Mean It, by Gesine Bullock-Prado, features a variety of pictures and recipes devoted entirely to tempting your sweet tooth. Maybe keeping a book on baking around will help inspire you to cook more (or, you know, maybe not. But there’s always Pintester for that reason!).




I’m not a particularly fashionable person, but Alexander McQueen’s collections have always dazzled me. I feel like flipping through the history of his inspiration and collections in Savage Beauty would just leave me awestruck every single day.




I’m not psyched about the $42 pricetag for Genevieve Warwick’s Bernini: Art as Theater, but at the same time… it’s Bernini. I was torn between featuring a book of Pre-Raphaelite art (of which I couldn’t find one on Amazon that I reeeeally liked) and this. Bernini’s sculptures are so amazingly lifelike that perhaps owning a book of photographs of his work does the art a disservice. Maybe I should re-consider this whole “when I get an apartment” thing and instead invest my dreams in a “when I visit Italy” thing.




I figured my blog needed a bit of a more “lighthearted” post today. I’ll try to post again soon to add to my “How to Apply To Graduate School” series.


4 thoughts on “Books to Display on Your Coffee Table

  1. I LOVE My Ideal Bookshelf and that baking book looks delicious as well. I love that you have a variety. I have books about the same topics on my coffee table, but I think I’d like to have a bunch of different books like this list. Thanks for the inspiration!

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