Coffee Table Books by Black AuthorsSep 22, 2023 10:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
In the realm of literature, coffee table books hold a special place. Coffee table books add color, texture, and layers to a table or nook while showcasing your unique interests. The best coffee table books are fascinating literary creations. They are more than just beautiful decorative pieces; they provide a window into diverse cultures, histories, and untold stories. Many of the books feature photographs and stories that give an in-depth look into Black communities. For Black men and women, these coffee table books become even more significant, allowing us to celebrate our shared heritage, honor our ancestors, and embrace our collective beauty. Below, we’ve rounded up coffee table books by Black authors that celebrate the richness of Black culture.
Featuring stunning full-color photographs by Gabriela Hasbun, The New Black West celebrates the modern Black cowboys of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and the community that comes together to witness their achievements year after year. Inside, you’ll find stories from the cowboys themselves alongside stunning images of riders and their horses. Whether portraying the spectacle of the arena or the quiet moments before the competition, Hasbun’s photographs capture an intimacy and camaraderie unique to the cowboy way of life. Her images capture the joy and excitement of performers and audience members, showcasing the daring feats, spectacular outfits, and welcoming atmosphere that make the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo an unmissable experience.
For Black cowboys – from inner-city Philly to small-town Texas – horses and riding are a way of life
Photographer Ron Tarver grew up in Fort Gibson, a small town in Oklahoma where horses, cattle and Wrangler jeans were embedded into the rhythms of everyday life. Read More »
Described as “high-styled rebels” by author Shantrelle P. Lewis, Black men with a penchant for color and refined new and vintage fashion have gained popular attention in recent years, influencing mainstream fashion. Dandy Lion presents and celebrates individual dandy personalities, designers and tailors, movements, and events that define contemporary dandyism. Throughout the book, self-expression is communicated through personal style, clothing, shoes, hats, and swagger. Lewis’s carefully curated selection of contemporary photographs surveys the movement across the globe in spectacular form, with all of the vibrant patterns, electrifying colors, and fanciful poses of this brilliant style subculture.
For many years, Black culture has played an essential part in the evolution of fashion and beauty worldwide. Read More »
Carrie Mae Weems’s iconic Kitchen Table Series, which depicts Weems and loved ones in various scenes — smoking, reading, looking, loving — was rereleased in November 2022 after a sold-out printing in 2016. For years, used books of this title sold for hundreds of dollars, so I immediately leaped at the opportunity to own the book for a more reasonable price. It tells the story of a woman’s life through moments at her kitchen table, capturing the intimacy of home and the range of emotions and daily life occurrences. The book is a prized gem in my collection and a wonderful introduction to one of today’s most influential photographers.
The history of African American cuisine is, in fact, the history of American food. Many of your favorite ingredients and dishes actually have African roots. One of the best ways to apprec... Read More »
This remarkable book showcases the bold, colorful, and monumental artwork of renowned artist Kehinde Wiley. Wiley is an American portrait painter based in New York City, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of Black people, frequently referencing the work of Old Master paintings. This volume surveys Wiley’s career from 2001 to the present. It includes early portraits of the men Wiley observed on Harlem’s streets, which laid the foundation for his acclaimed reworkings of Old Master paintings by Titian, van Dyke, Manet, and others, in which he replaces historical subjects with young African American men in contemporary attire: puffy jackets, sneakers, hoodies, and baseball caps. Accompanying the illustrations are essays that introduce readers to the arc of Wiley’s career, its critical reception, and its ongoing evolution.
Every form of art has established rules and borders around its genres in the creative spectrum, but contemporary artists have shattered those borders and redefined the meaning of art. Read More »
In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. It includes contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaries from around the globe. The book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork. Black Food explores the interweaving of food, experience, and community through original poetry and essays, including Jollofing with Toni Morrison by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Queer Intelligence by Zoe Adjonyoh, and The Spiritual Ecology of Black Food by Leah Penniman.
The OG Soul of a Nation book chronicles work created by Black artists from 1963–1983. The period, which is often defined by civil-rights leaders like Malcolm X and groups like the Black Panthers, focuses on the art of the time, much of which wrestled with questions about racial identity and politics and what it means to be Black in America. In addition to works by artists like Sam Gilliam, Betye Saar, Howardina Pindell, and Noah Purifoy, it contains essays by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley and gives context to a unique moment in history.
The book presents 110 black and white candid photos of the women of the BPP who were committed to supporting the party’s social, economic and political agenda. Read More »
In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.” This monograph—the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a key, but under-recognized, figure of the second Harlem Renaissance. Black Is Beautiful is a beautiful time capsule of fashion photography in the 1960s in New York from Brathwaite. Brathwaite was a key figure in the second Harlem Renaissance who founded the African Jazz-Art Society & Studios, a collective of artists, playwrights, designers, and dancers. He also founded Grandassa Models, a modeling agency for Black women. From stunning studio portraits of the Grandassa Models to behind-the-scenes images of Harlem’s artistic community, including Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and Miles Davis, this book offers a long-overdue exploration of Brathwaite’s life and work His images, carefully calibrated to reflect a moment precisely, made black beautiful for those who lived in the 1960s, and continue to do so for a generation today who might only now be discovering his work.
Black Futures is an American anthology of Black art, writing, and other creative work, edited by writer Jenna Wortham and curator Kimberly Drew. Writer Teju Cole, singer Solange Knowles, and activist Alicia Garza, who cofounded Black Lives Matter, are among the book's more than 100 contributors. It is a collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today. In answering the question of what it means to be Black and alive, Black Futures opens a prismatic vision of possibility for every reader.
Ever since August 1973, hip-hop artists have turned to Afrofuturism – a mix of science fiction, politics, and liberating fantasy – to inform their lyrics and their look. Read More »
Spike Lee is a world-renowned, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, cultural icon, and one of the most prominent voices on race and racism for more than three decades. His prolific career has included over 35 films, including his directorial debut She's Gotta Have It (1986), Do the Right Thing (1989), and more recently, his Oscar-winning film BlacKkKlansman (2018). This career-spanning monograph titled SPIKE is a visual celebration of his life and career to date. As soon as you open the book you'll be transported to the world and work of Spike Lee's films. The behind-the-scenes photography is stunning and a trip down memory lane. This book is a must-have collector's item and the ideal gift for any cinephile and fan of one of the most prominent and influential filmmakers in history.
While BHM is a great time to brush up on our history and our ongoing journey to overcome, any month in the year is a good time to look at our varying stories, perspectives, and messages c... Read More »
An acclaimed photographer and award-winning journalist provides an intimate look at Black women who would rather attend church naked than hatless. For countless Black women, a church hat, flamboyant as it may be, is no mere fashion accessory; it’s a cherished African-American custom, one observed with boundless passion. A woman's hat speaks long before its wearer utters a word. Crowns tell the story of six African-American women through the hats they wear to church. Readers see the women get ready for church, attend a morning service, a wedding, a funeral, and a baptism.
Silk or satin bonnets provide all those benefits wrapped up in plush, soft fabric that makes styling your hair the next morning a more seamless process. Read More »
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.
She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.
Read more from Boitumelo Masihleho:
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If you’re seeking to delve into the sci-fi and fantasy world, this list of can’t-miss, acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy novels written by Black female authors is a good place to start. Read More »