Library Corner: Coffee is not just about Cream and Sugar |

Library Corner: Coffee is not just about Cream and Sugar

Tallie Gray
Director of Library Resources

What pops into your head when you think of Grand County Library District’s libraries? Fantastically helpful librarians to guide your research and computer needs? Cozy corners to read or study? Excitement as you check out the newest spy novel or DVD collections? Attending programs and hauling home twenty children’s books?

All of the above are valid and valuable thoughts and are at the heart of most library districts.

Coffee table books are one resource that is often overlooked but is worth discovering or revisiting. Often located in the Oversized Collection or in reference areas, perhaps hidden in the back area of your library, there are coffee table books for all ages, diverse interests, and can be a devoured as a wonderfully shared experience.

As a child, I was drawn to these collections. I wasn’t a good reader, but I appreciated what could be found in these tomes: masterful art, maps, designs, photographs, worlds so different from my own. And the sheer size of them tickled my imagination. The huge book of coral reef photography I would drag out from the bottom shelf at my local library motivated me to learn to SCUBA dive 20 years later, still a favorite pastime.

Coffee table books can have a grounding effect, while also providing visual inspiration. Take the time to feel the weight of these books as you study “The Civil War: An Illustrated History” by Geoffrey C. Ward or explore the vastness of our nation while enjoying “National Geographic Atlas of National Parks” by Jonathan Waterman.

Yes, your computer can replace going to a museum during COVID-19, but screens are for skimming, books are for solidifying learning. Check out “Historium” by Jo Nelson. The description reads, “Welcome to the museum! Here you will find a collection of objects from ancient civilizations. Objects of beauty, functionality, war, life, death and burial. As you wander from room to room, explore the magnificence of what civilizations have left behind over thousands of years of human history!” Sounds like fun!

A new coffee table book for GCLD is “Uncommon Grit: A Photographic Journey Through Navy Seal Training” by Darren McBurnett. This book has great reviews, including one from Booklist: “The sum of this photographic journey conveys what words alone cannot. Gazing at these images and reading about the SEALs, one cannot fail to empathize with these young men and gain understanding of their commitment. McBurnett makes you feel the cold of the surf, the chafing grit of sand, and the length of the day. ‘Uncommon Grit’ is an uncommon work of art documenting a little-seen aspect of the forces that keep us safe.”

“Humans” by Brandon Stanton arrived in December. Publisher’s Weekly praises it as “a beautiful love letter to humanity.”

Put on your nature and photographer’s cap. Can you recognize how, where, and why John Fielder stood to capture images for his coffee table books, like “Mountain Ranges of Colorado?”

Coffee table books are worth savoring. claims “a mark of the modern-day renaissance man is the caliber of his coffee table book collection.” You, luckily don’t need to spend $50 or more for these types of books. Simply borrow them from your library. You may get engrossed in the narrative or you may simply enjoy the images. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, and yet, sometimes it is worth taking a break from words altogether.

Two of GCLD’s newest coffee table books: “Uncommon Grit” by Darren McBurnett and “Humans” by Brandon Stanton.


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