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8 Coffee Table Books for Gear Lovers

8 Coffee Table Books for Gear Lovers

At some point in your hosting life, you’re going to leave guests alone in your living room. It’s not because you’re a bad host. We’re sure you’re not. It’s just one of the inevitabilities of having company. While you’re gone, make sure they feel as comfortable as possible by leaving them something to do besides mindlessly poking their phone. A coffee table book is right there in the center of the room, invites guests to flip through, and doesn’t make them feel like they’re invading your personal space when they do. Here are a few coffee table books you should get, especially if you and your guests love gear.


We’re not full-blown sneakerheads, but we enjoy having a few pairs of high quality, good looking sneakers around the house. We also like to be well informed about even our most casual hobbies. That’s why Sneakers earns a place on our coffee table. It taught us everything we could have wanted to know about sneakers, their history, the design process, and shoe based trivia. It probably taught us more than we wanted to know, actually, because we can’t stop using our shoes as party ice breakers now. $17

Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers

Core Memory captures images of the computers kept in the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, the most famous collection of technical hardware in the world, and tells their design stories. These were computers designed and built decades ago and flipping through the book is like thumbing through your grandparents’ old photo albums to see what people thought was hip and modern in the 1970s. Granted, computer design aged better than your grandma’s pastel colored, ovular living room, so this is a little more fun to look at. $23

The LEGO Architect

We don’t have to tell you LEGO blocks aren’t just for kids. Plenty of adults blow off steam by carefully following building directions, while a few more rely solely on their own freakishly good sense of engineering. The LEGO Architect does both for you. It takes you through the history of architecture and provides you with blueprints to build your own examples. It’s perfect for those hands-on learners who could only ever know what Art Deco or Brutalism were if they got to build it themselves. $23

Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital

We know a lot of our readers dabble (or more) in photography, so we like to do what we can to encourage you guys. Part of that is providing you with the information you need to be as educated as you can, and you should never downplay how much you can learn from casually flipping through a coffee table book a few times. Camera will firmly root you in photography, helping you understand where this relatively young technology came from, how it got where it is today, and where it could be going in the future. $27

Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living

Modern gadgets are so intricate and precisely made it feels like the age of the common man’s ability to disassemble and reassemble his possessions is over. Things Come Apart both supports and refutes that claim by disassembling and photographing the gadgets we use every day. It’s an artistic look at our favorite devices that also helps us understand how these seemingly magic boxes work. The only thing we’d recommend before trying to replicate the work here is to pick up a few practice devices from a thrift store. $27

Collecting Case Knives: Identification and Price Guide for Pocket Knives

As if our readers need any more guidance on the collection of pocket knives. But if you disagree, feel free to pick up Collecting Case Knives. You can sort through the knives you already have, decide which ones you’ll seek out next, and enjoy looking at the rest of them in a bit of vicarious wish fulfillment. Plus, you might actually learn something new, like how many different types of blades there are or why people carried so many small knives with them in the first place. $30

Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation

This book’s similar to Core Memory, though it narrows its focus a bit. It’s completely about Apple’s design and process, which, regardless of your personal feelings of the company or the functionality of their products, you have to admit everything they make is beautifully designed. They’ve redefined gadget style at every step. After the iMac came out, dozens of PCs were put into bubbles, the iPod gave every bowling alley crane machine MP3 player something to knock off, and the iPhone guaranteed a decade of glowing rectangular bricks with black or aluminum backs. $54

The Watch Book

If ever you needed justification for wearing a watch in the world of smartphones, The Watch Book will give it to you. Not only does it give you a breakdown of the 18 most prolific and iconic European watch companies of modern time, it gives you a philosophical primer on what it means to measure time with a tiny ticking wrist machine. That’s a hell of a lot more than we were guessing we’d get from a watch-themed coffee table book, but we’re glad we did. Plus, when you get a professional photographer to take portraits of premium watches, you get a very special kind of voyeurism. $56