10 coffee-table books that exist purely for your sick pleasure
From chickens and goats to an exploration on poop
There’s something about other people’s belongings that stirs up curiosity. And when you find a stack of bulky coffee-table books sitting on a table in someone’s home or an office, you can’t help but thumb through — whether it’s because you’re a keen reader, to simply pass time, try and find out more about the people they belong to or in the desperate hope that they’ll throw up something to talk about at the awkward dinner party you’ve found yourself at.
To me, coffee-table books are more than just showpieces for guests to know that you’re smart and cultured. I think they’re works of art — especially the ones I’m going to introduce you to today. Some of you might even wonder why these books even exist — like The Encyclopedia of Poo, a book on extraordinary chickens, or one dedicated to dog shaming.
Because life is absurd and we need to laugh our way through it. Because they’re amazing, and we need more books like these. When the world looks like it’s going to implode any day now, we need some irreverence, humour, crazy looking chickens and good looking men to get through it. Like my mother always tells me, everything doesn’t need to be doom and gloom all the time.
So let’s marvel at these creations, the effort people put into making them and the absurd joy that they bring.
1. Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles by Caren, Claudia and Todd Strauss-Schulson
Take that, 8th grade English teacher who told me doodling was stupid and “not real art”. Gift this to all the naysayers (or just keep it for yourself). This book contains the Strauss-Schulson family’s collection of sketches, doodles and scribblings from the letters and notebooks belonging to illustrious minds and cultural icons. The “eclectic and storied cast of characters” includes Charles Bukowski, Steve Jobs, Charlie Chaplin and even Queen Victoria. Price:₹2,237 onwards
2. Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su
This is a compilation from the viral website crappytaxidermy. From an awkwardly posed cat to a terrifyingly smiling lion – I don’t know if these failed attempts at taxidermy (or the concept as a whole) are funny or simply horrifying (a bit of both if you ask me). Whichever side you land on, you can’t help but flip through the pages of this book. Price: ₹532 onwards
3. Extraordinary Chickens by Stephen Green-Armytage
Did you know chickens are closely related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex? Looking at these weirdos, you wouldn’t believe it. Though the madness in their eyes could be likened to that of a prehistoric predator — their weird neck movements, their strange walk and buoyancy. Chickens are strange and extraordinary, just like the images of the exotic ornamental birds in this book. Price: ₹417
4. Sh*t My Kids Ruined: An A-Z Celebration of Kid-Destruction by Julie Haas Brophy
This book has been described as the best birth control there can be. Seeing the kind of mayhem that children create, you can’t help but agree.
But seriously, according to parents, children are the light of their lives and often the bane of their existence. This book is a celebration of both those aspects of parenthood, capturing all the “filthy, distasteful, gross, and painful moments of parenthood.” I have serious doubts you’ll want to have kids after going through this one. Price: ₹ 710
5. Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire
Dogs are the greatest creation of the Universe. They also poop on your mother’s very expensive carpet and chew up your laptop charger. And sometimes they need to be published. So, dog shaming was born and quickly became a viral online trend with users sharing pictures of their sheepish-looking dog with a sign describing their ‘crime’.
But the truth is you can’t really be mad at those squishy little faces — and this is a great addition to any dog-lovers library that will melt even the darkest of hearts. Price: ₹1,089
6. Goats and Sheep: A Portrait Farm by Elena Passarello and Kevin Horan
Ever wanted to stare deep into the creepy eyes of a fuzzy goat? Well, now you can. This book is a collection of portraits of, well, goats and sheep, by photographer Kevin Horan. Having moved from the city to country life, he found these beasts to have their own personalities, existing as individuals and not just herd animals. Whether you find them adorable or just real eerie, the photographs are quite magnificent, done in the manner of true studio shoots. Price: ₹1,990
7. Cacas: The Encyclopedia of Poo by Oliviero Toscani and Taschen America
Your favourite actor does it, the colleague sitting next to you does it, Pope Francis sitting in the Vatican does it. Everybody (and everything) poops. This book was put together by United Colors of Benetton, for some reason, with sixty-eight different varieties of animal poop. I don’t know who asked for this, but here you have it, folks. Price: ₹1,120
8. Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Chopin and Alice Chaygneaud
Based on the chic French Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons, this book has photographs of very, very attractive men juxtaposed with images of very, very adorable cats striking the same pose. That pretty much sums up this book, which isn’t really a traditional coffee-table book in any sense of the word. But it has two of my favourite things in one, so what’s not to love? Price: ₹1,200
9. All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen & Jory John
This is a darkly funny illustrated children’s book for adults, and one of my favourites. With cutesy illustrations, it examines the existential dread of everyone and everything from a sock missing its pairing to houseplants whose friends are slowly dying because their owner has no green thumb. This book makes you laugh out loud at the downside that pretty much everything has in life. Price: ₹570
10. The Pop-up Book of Phobias by Gary Greenberg, Matthew Reinhart and Balvis Rubess
This book is a sick joke and I love it. Using the whimsical nature of pop-up books, the authors have brought to life the worst fears we have in a hilariously macabre manner.
Each page contains the definition of a particular phobia, accompanied by an artistic rendering in the pop-up format, meaning you can get as close to experiencing each phobia as possible via a book. Be prepared for spiders, dentists, heights… and more. Price: ₹18,306 (pricey but worth it)