Big Coffee Table Books To Ask Put On Your Christmas List
The Debrief: You couldn't normally afford these big old sexy books but, seeing as it's Christmas, someone else can buy them for you.
More Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience - Shaun Usher
The Letters of Note series is pretty much perfect coffee table fare. The elegant design, Shaun Usher’s charmingly written introductions and the dip-in-and-out-when-you-have-a-moment nature of the contents all make this second book more than welcome. After all, there’s clearly no shortage of material - this volume has letters from Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Marge Simpson and Beatrix Potter, as well as Richard Burton’s farewell to Elizabeth Taylor and much else. There is a great balance of the political and personal, the famous and infamous and while it’s too unwieldy for bedtime reading, it leave you absorbed well beyond Boxing Day.
In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way - Marcel Proust, drawings by Stéphane Heuet, translated by Arthur Goldhammer
Intimidated by the idea of reading Proust’s 1913 classic, long loopy sentences and all? Help is here, in the form of Heuet’s ingenious plan to turn the epic memoir into a graphic novel. Originally published in French between 1998 and 2013 it is now a huge and impressive hardback finally available in English. The essence of the original is here, albeit with the text made more accessible, and Paris looks as gorgeous as it does in Ratatouille. This is only the first volume, childhood, but it feels like the perfect combination of fun and smart.
Spuntino - Russell Norman
Realistically, very very few (none) of us are going to get round to recreating plates of sliders from Italian-American Soho diner Spuntino. But that doesn’t mean this book isn’t a coffee table gem: gorgeous design, endless images of New York’s best delis and diners and some lovely writing from Spuntino (and Polpo’s) owner Russell Norman. And you needn’t feel guilty about under-using it as a cookbook because it has a fantastic cocktail section at the back. Everything you need to know about steeping your own gins, making the Perfect Manhattan or a classic Old Fashioned is here. Joyful.
Face Paint - Lisa Eldridge
While this is full of lush images, it’s not a ‘how to’, but a history of makeup from youtube superstar and celebrity zhoosher Lisa Eldridge. Currently creative director for Lancôme, and a collector of vintage make up, she has worked with countless iconic brands and is more than qualified to talk about the origins of what goes on our faces. From Nefertiti to Amy Winehouse, and lead paint to Rouge Noir, this is a really satisfying look at the cultural journey makeup has been on and what it has meant about women over the ages. You won’t be any better at applying it after reading this, but you’ll be better informed about the politics your look evolved from.
Abrams Image, £18.99
Alexander McQueen - Claire Wilcox
Whether you made it to the blockbuster Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A earlier this year or not, this is an exceptional fashion book. Put together by the exhibition’s curator, it is a catalogue of the extraordinary show itself, as well as a collection of essays from fashion commentators alongside images, sketches and a luxe gatefold showcasing all of the attention-to-detail that made McQueen the most noted - and beloved - designer of the last few decades. This devastatingly gorgeous doorstopper is hugely satisfying for anyone who tired of craning their neck around sharp-elbowed fashion mavens at the exhibition itself and significant consolation to anyone who didn’t make it.
V&A Publishing, £30
Liked this? You might also be interested in:
Follow Alexandra on Twitter @Hemmo
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating