Coffee table books are having their moment in interior design right now, but if reading isn’t your thing, it can be time-consuming to narrow down your favorites on Black culture. More than curating a collection of intriguing and artistic covers, books highlighting your culture speak to your interests and passions and the history and topics you want to know more about or celebrate.
Since Black culture encompasses so many ideas, people, places, moments, and periods, there’s no telling what you may find during your book hunt. Whether shopping at Barnes & Noble or shuffling through shelves in a local Black-owned bookstore, you’re sure to discover something that catches your eye. From exploring the impact of your favorite icons to historical deep dives and collections of portraits, these books speak to what it means to be Black and highlight the beautiful, creative, and multidimensional nature of Black identity.
Styling Your Books
Coffee table books that celebrate Black culture not only offer a wealth of knowledge but also provide an opportunity to elevate the aesthetics of your living space. Placing these books strategically on your coffee table can serve as both a design statement and a source of inspiration. By incorporating these volumes, you infuse your decor with a sense of cultural richness and diversity.
They can be arranged thoughtfully, using their vibrant covers and compelling imagery to add pops of color and personality to your interior design. Beyond their decorative appeal, they are also great conversation starters, inviting guests to explore and engage with the stories, art, and history they contain. Whether stacked elegantly or displayed with open pages, these coffee table books not only celebrate Black culture but also enhance the ambiance and character of your living area.
Take a look at these eight coffee table reads that tell the stories of Blackness in all their power and glory. Great for your coffee table, console, or anywhere you want to decorate with rich history, stunning imagery, and soul.
Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History by Vikki Tobak
A Barnes & Noble best book of 2022, "Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History" takes readers through the spectacular and extravagant world of customized hip-hop jewelry. From the 80s to today, the storytelling and visuals chronicle and celebrate how grills, blinged-out watches, and icy chains rose to prominence and became a marker of identity. The book is not simply about the frozen necks and wrists, but the personal stories jewelry tells and how it's become a tool of self-expression and transformed into a facet of style and design culture within hip-hop.
Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham
"Black Futures" is an exploratory collection of work that tells the story of what it means to be Black and alive right now. It's an immersive and revolutionary literary experience that invites readers to discover and spend a moment with the imaginative, provocative, beautiful world that Black creators are innovating today. An account of where Black people came from and what lies ahead, each piece paints a vision of Black life that serves as a blueprint of possibility for every reader.
Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style by Jason Jules
Named one of the best books of 2021 by The Financial Times, "Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style" recounts the period in American history when Black men across the country reimagined the preppy style of the privileged and made it cool, edgy, and experimental. It explores how a stylish group of men battling for racial equality and civil rights reinvented Ivy League fashion in ways that still influence modern menswear and streetwear. See the button-down shirt, hand-stitched loafers, and more redefined by those who were told it's not for them.
Gordon Parks: Segregation Story
"Gordon Parks: A Segregation Story" is a compelling visual account of race relations in America. It features work by the photographer first presented in a 1956 issue of Life magazine when Parks was sent to Alabama by the publication to document the days of Black people living under Jim Crow Laws. The powerful series illustrates ordinary life in the rural South, including the grave and unwavering danger Black people faced.
Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists
"Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists" highlights the work of the current and emerging generation of Black artists and includes the voices of curators sourcing and championing contemporary art. The collection reveals how these new figures impact how we think about identity, politics, and art history at crucial moments in American history when politics intertwine with art with a renewed sense of urgency. It also illustrates what it means to be a Black contemporary artist today.
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
"Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power" delves into the profound impact of Black artists during the 1960s and 1970s. Through visuals, essays, and history, it explores how these artists worked to address racial injustice and celebrate Black identity. This book is a journey through the fight for Civil Rights in America, showcasing art as social change and self-expression.
Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful
"Black is Beautiful" by Kwame Brathwaite honors the photographer's work in capturing the Civil Rights era. The book showcases his captivating images of Black pride, fashion, and culture during the second Harlem Renaissance. Through portraits and other striking visuals, readers are immersed in a transformative period of African American history, celebrating the popularization and adoption of the slogan "Black is Beautiful."
Black Hollywood: Reimagining Iconic Movie Moments by Carell Augustus
"Black Hollywood: Reimagining Iconic Movie Moments" celebrates the transformative impact of Black filmmakers and actors in cinema by recreating iconic movie scenes with Black entertainers. It highlights the power of diversity and inclusion in storytelling and the creativity and innovation of Black stars who have reshaped Hollywood in their image. The book, curated over a decade, speaks to the limitlessness of Black art and how we can do anything no matter who says "no."
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