RA Back Pocket: Art and Coffee-Table Books | Wyatt’s World

Some of the books readers treasure most are the lavishly illustrated tomes that do far more than decorate end tables. They inspire, inform, and enrich—all things libraries strive for as well. Here are five notable titles from 2017 that are guaranteed to entertain and enlighten for years to come.

  • Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer by Carmen C. Bambach & others (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
    In terms of exhibitions, this year has proved tremendous for Michelangelo, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent historic display of his works praised by the New York Times as a “must-see show.” This accompanying exhibition catalog is also a must-see, highlighting the artist’s drawings—from studies to architectural designs—and much more.
  • Universe: Exploring the Astronomical World by Phaidon Eds. (Phaidon).
    Scientific art, as well as the images scientists capture, are enthralling. This well-conceived guide tours the universe from the perspective of human depiction, including photographs taken with advanced telescopes and ancient paintings imagining our celestial spheres.
  • The Illustrated Dust Jacket 1920–1970 by Martin Salisbury (Thames & Hudson).
    Readers know that books can definitely be judged by their covers, and that covers can be judged against one another. Exploring the multiple pleasures of dust jackets, Salisbury details their history and shares a treasure trove of examples.
  • National Geographic: The Photo Ark; One Man’s Quest To Document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore (National Geographic).
    The world is losing its animal population as species disappear, become extinct in the wild, endangered, and threatened. Photographer Sartore is doing his best to document these animals while he can, creating a stunning catalog of images that remind viewers of what can be lost.
  • Monograph by Chris Ware (Rizzoli).
    Take a free fall into the minute renderings of Ware, one of the most highly regarded figures in comics today. This hefty volume surveys 30 years of the author/illustrator’s work and life, providing a grand review of his creations, style, and aesthetic.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com.

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