Top of the coffee table books

First off it’s a shame Tumblr doesn’t allow you to have kickers. I’m quite fond of them.

This summer I joined an informal book club and I am sad to say that the book selected for the club has turned out to be disappointing and quite frankly not worth reading. Ladies and Gentleman the Bible by Jonathan Goldstein has failed it’s most important tests: having an interesting foreword and readable first ten pages.

The foreword/introduction tells us about what it was like to grow up in a Jewish family. During this time Goldstein reflects on the tales that make up the bible and what it was like to grow up with them — it seems his family members had difficulty sticking to the basic plot when telling him about it. This part is OK — not terrible, not enticing either — as he wavers through incomplete memories of incomplete Jewish teachings.

Then the book starts and you realize that you are not going to learn anything new about the Bible — which was a vague hope as someone who doesn’t know the Bible like the back of my hand — instead he has taken these generation old tales and has inserted potty humour and other wholesome changes to liven things up.

I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would want to read about Adam acting like a class clown and jokes that stopped being funny when I finished junior high. This is the bible on South Park but worse. It is a waste of paper and a waste of time or at least the first ten pages were. I think I’ve had enough and don’t need to read anymore to know that this book is as pointless as a terrible remake of a renowned movie. Don’t bother.

Today I picked up The Best of Newspaper Design 26 and The Best of Newspaper Design 25 from the library. I also have out The Best of Newspaper Design 29 and The Best of Brochure Design 10. These are the types of books that are fun to have on your shelf and flip through whenever you feel like being wowed or are in need of inspiration.

These books are low commitment time wise and high in value — they take about ten minutes to flip through and are visually compelling — and are what I commonly refer to as coffee table books. The Calgary Public Library has quite a few of these making for an affordable way to have something cool around to look through.

29 and Brochure Design are my favourites out of the bunch. They show the best of design and what happens when creativity meets print.

I notice that over time newspaper design seems to have changed. The designs in 29 (2008) are more creative and more dominated by white space than those seen in 26 and 25. This reflects the changes in print media as it evolves and changes. Some newspaper, led by the Globe and Mail redesign and the Guardian are moving more in the direction of magazine design than more traditional blocks of text.

Images and design have a large role to play in communication and story telling and this is obvious looking through these collections. It is interesting to flip through and be able to see some of the changes that have taken place of the years.

These books are highly recommended for a coffee table, desk or bookshelf near you.