Holiday Books Guide 2014: Coffee Table

These often-hefty books are filled with captivating images of the American road, Yosemite Valley, outer space and even the imaginary land of Westeros. See all our holiday books recommendations.


Michael Benson

Abrams, $50

How do we visualize the universe? From medieval maps to contemporary supercomputer simulations, this book charts our changing understanding of our place in the cosmos.


Nick Cave

Prestel, $65

Multimedia artist Nick Cave (not the rock musician) creates African-influenced, whimsically wearable sculptures he calls Soundsuits, lavishly displayed here along with video stills and public installations.

The Open Road

Photography and the American Road Trip

David Campany

Aperture, $65

Hit the road with the likes of Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, Garry Winogrand, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore and explore postwar America with their photographs.

The Art of Things

Product Design Since 1945

Edited by Dominique Forest

Abbeville Press, $150

This history of modern design details the emergence of designers as celebrities in the post-World War II era, accompanied by more than 650 color plates illustrating influential creations.

Ansel Adams in Yosemite Valley

Celebrating the Park at 150

Peter Galassi

Little, Brown, $100

Ansel Adams' most frequently photographed destination celebrates its 150th anniversary with a collection of his best-known images of El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks and more, reproduced in a deluxe, large-format clothbound book.

The World Atlas of Street Photography

Jackie Higgins

Yale University Press, $45

More than 700 images from 100 contemporary photographers capture unexpected moments of daily street life around the globe, from Paris to Havana to Seoul.

Hollywood Frame by Frame

The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997

Karina Longworth

Princeton Architectural Press, $30

Pre-digital age contact sheets from Hollywood's set photographers immortalize spontaneous off-camera moments from classic films such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Taxi Driver" and "The Silence of the Lambs."

Andy Warhol

The Complete Commissioned Magazine Works

Paul Marechal

Prestel, $150

This heavily illustrated volume gathers the celebrated artist's less-known work — magazine covers, celebrity portraits, ads and editorial illustration spanning 1948-87 in publications that include Carnegie Tech's student magazine, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

The World of Ice & Fire

The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin and Elio M. Garcia Jr.

Random House, $50

Crammed with illustrations and information, this large-format book acts as a history and travelogue of the complicated worlds within Martin's "Ice and Fire" series.

Maps: Their Untold Stories

Map Treasures from the National Archives

Rose Mitchell and Andrew Janes

Thomas Reed, $50

Journey through seven centuries of world cartography, including basic city maps and sea charts and more bizarre artifacts, such as a map of the 1851 Great Exhibition presented on a lady's glove and a London Underground map in the form of a cucumber.

Understanding the World

The Atlas of Infographics

Sandra Rendgen

Taschen, $69.99

Two hundred eighty graphics focusing on the 21st century provide accessible, visual ways of explaining the world through captivating information graphics and design.

Killer Heels

The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe

Edited by Lisa Small

Prestel, $55

The power of the heel is explored in this striking volume, presenting amazing shoes from 16th century Venetian platforms to coveted 21st century Christian Louboutins; the book accompanies a traveling exhibition (heading to Palm Springs in 2015).

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Dioramas

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Damiani, $65

With his three-dimensional photographic landscapes, Sugimoto brings his own history of the world to life in prehistoric aquatic habitats, flourishing flora and fauna and man's destruction of the Earth.

75 Years of Marvel Comics

From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen

Roy Thomas

Taschen, $200

You'll need superhero strength to lift this hulking tome filled with 2,000 vintage images celebrating Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men and the artists and writers who created them.

100 Not So Famous Views of L.A.

Barbara A. Thomason

Prospect Park Books, $30

Inspired by mid-19th century Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige, L.A.-based artist Barbara Thomason's collection of 100 paintings offer an alternative interpretation of the city's often overlooked landmarks and quirky places.

See all our holiday books recommendations.