The inspiration for great coffee table books can range from the ridiculous (The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, by Julian Montague) to the sublime. (In the Studio: Artists of the 20th Century In Private and at Work, by Jean-FranCois Chaigneau). The best coffee table books pair images and language in ways that both entertain and inspire.
David Browser, head of the Sierra Club from 1952 to 1969, is credited by many as spearheading the popularity of the coffee table book with the Exhibit Format series of books. These coffee table books featured photographs by some of the most storied American photographers and artists, such as Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter, paired with texts by eminent nature writers like Henry David Thoreau and Wallace Stegner. The natural world has continued to be a significant inspiration for modern picture books, and the images have taken us from the very small to the infinitely vast.
Inspired by the theme of the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting (The Beauty and Benefits of Science), we have compiled a list of the very best science-themed coffee table books reviewed in SB&F in recent years. We may be stretching the definition of coffee table books with some of our selections; however, all are delightfully suited to the purpose.
To view the PDF of the article containing the full list, click here.