Stories and opinions that spark creative thinking

Coffee table reading

I've always been bad at displaying my creative books with any sort of purpose. There's one book shelf leaning against my living room wall, and when it became too full to squeeze even one more book on, the coffee table seemed like the natural next place to start putting them. And so it is that now I've got the books that are inspiring me most at any given moment displayed in stacks on my coffee table—they're visible, and most importantly, always within reach.

Here's a quick look at the creative conversation-starters on my coffee table right now:

Inspiration for my inner food photographer
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all by Brad Thomas Parsons
This James Beard Foundation Book Award winner is a fantastic and well-written guide to all things Bitters, with beautiful, full-page photographs of drinks, bar tools, and... Bitters!

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite by Sarah Copeland
Lovely, fresh vegetarian meals. But most importantly, beautiful full-page photographs of some of the plated dishes.

Inspiration for my inner graphic designer
Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World's Great Graphic Designers by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico
There's nothing quite as inspiring as having a bird's eye view of sketchbooks belonging to a heavy handful of amazing graphic designers; from Milton Glaser to Noma Barr, Michael Bierut, and many more.

Bibliographic: 100 Classic Design Books by Jason Godfrey
The perfect way to get a glimpse inside all of the classics—many out of print and very rare.

Inspiration for my inner interior designer
Living in a Modern Way: California Design 1930-1965 by Wendy Kaplan
This thick companion to a major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a stunning and comprehensive look into California's Mid Century Modern design.

Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake by Barbara Bestor
Silver Lake California is synonymous with hipsters, so full permission is granted for eye-rolls—but a look at the bohemian interiors inside will get you well past that.

Inspiration for my inner lover and weirdo
Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers by Becky Cooper
Ms. Cooper walked Manhattan with blank maps, asking strangers (and also some of the most famous New Yorkers) to map their Manhattan. What resulted is a study of memories of Manhattan from those who know it best. A beautiful and sometimes poignant trip down the memory lanes of longtime New Yorkers that will make the hearts of other longtime New Yorkers sing. I promise, after you're done noticing every part of every map in the book, you'll want to map your Manhattan, too!

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey
Need I say more? "L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks..." And the Love I'll always have for this little book—we go a long way back.

The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey
And I had to save the best for last. Maybe it's just my odd sense of humor, but Gorey's book about the strange creature who appears at the doorstep of a family one night, runs into their home, and creepily just becomes a part of the gang is by far my favorite Gorey book ever. It's a permanent fixture on my coffee table.

Alyssa YeagerComment