Big Books for Small Attention Spans


I have a confession to make. I am a coffee table book addict. I cannot stop buying these enormous (but amazing) books and shoving them onto any and every surface my house affords me. They are incredibly impractical, and yet they remain one of my favorite hobbies. I’m not suggesting that you follow my lead and fill your house with them, but if you’re looking for an awesome conversation starter, consider taking a look at these.

For the Music Lover
The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles (2000)

beatlesanthMy Take: Anyone who’s had the pleasure of taking the University of Victoria’s now infamous History of The Beatles class will already be familiar with this book; likewise for any hardcore Beatles fans out there.  For everyone else, I urge you to check out this book. It is so visually interesting that skimming through it often leads to awesome conversations and new insight surrounding the legend that is John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

The Gist: The Beatles Anthology is a 350-page volume of anything and everything you could hope to know about the world’s most famous foursome, through the words of the foursome themselves. Filled with photographs, interviews, and a great deal of John’s drawings, this book is a must have for any serious Beatles fanatic. Find it online here.

For the Child at Heart
Animalia by Graeme Base (1987)

animaliaMy Take: The inscription on the cover of my own copy of Animalia tells me it was a gift for my second birthday, and almost 23 years later it is still one of my most prized possessions. The illustrations in the book are, quite simply put, stunning. This book is a great way to spend a few minutes, and is beautiful enough to display anywhere in your home.

The Gist: At its most basic, Animalia is an alphabet book meets Where’s Waldo. Each page features a letter and an animal associated with it: “Great Green Gorillas Growing Grapes in a Gorgeous Glass Greenhouse.” Then it is the reader’s job to find all of the things in the picture that start with the letter featured (I found 24 on the “G” page). Known for his beautiful illustrations, Graeme Base spent more then three years drawing for AnimaliaFind it online here.

For the “Pictures-Speak-a-Thousand-Words” Enthusiast
Work: The World in Photographs by National Geographic (2006)

workMy Take: Oh, this book. In my opinion, this is the be all to end all of coffee table books  I cannot even count the number of times I’ve looked through it, or the number of people I’ve recommended it to. The photographs are organized into region which creates a very clear picture of how different life is depending on where in the world you happen to reside. Knowing the state of our world, parts of this book are heart-wrenching (even guilt inducing), but it is also often amazing, interesting, and thought-provoking. National Geographic has done a brilliant job with this collection of images, managing a well-balanced depiction of the world of work.

The Gist: 350 pages of absolutely stunning photography, depicting people all around the world at work. Images depict workers ranging from the man who cleans the glass and frame holding the Mona Lisa (Bruce Dale, 1966), to young Pakistani boys building handguns (Reza, 2004). Find it online here.

For the Anonymous
Post Secret compiled by Frank Warren (2005)

postMy Take: If you haven’t heard of Post Secret, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend. Have you ever felt alone? Like no one gets it? As if no one, ever, in the history of the planet could possibly have felt the same way/done the same things you do? Pick up Post Secret and meet your community—it’s called the human race, and we’re more alike than you might think. Perfect for a good cry or a good laugh, Post Secret is pretty damn amazing.

The Gist: Thousands and thousands of postcards, depicting thousands and thousands of secrets, from the mundane to the lucrative, Post Secret is a phenomenon to say the least. Let Frank tell you all about it, and then find it online here.


What are your favourite coffee table classics?
Feature Image sourced on WeHeartIt. Included images sourced on Google.


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