Coffee Table Books: Decorative Tomes for the Gothic Home
Looking for something suitably morbid to liven up your parlor? Here’s a list for anyone who likes their coffee table books as black as the coffee they put next to them.
Gothic: Dark Glamour
By Valerie Steel
“From its origins in the eighteenth-century literature of terror to its contemporary manifestations in vampire fiction, cinema, and art, the gothic has embraced the powers of horror and the erotic macabre. “Gothic” is an epithet with a strange history – evoking images of death, destruction, and decay. Ironically, its negative connotations have made the gothic an ideal symbol of rebellion for a wide range of cultural outsiders…. As the text and lavish illustrations in this book suggest, gothic fashion has deep cultural roots that give it an enduring potency.” (Amazon)
Next time your relatives wonder aloud why you still dress like that, direct them towards this book to prove this is so much more than a phase, Grandma.
American Gargoyles: Spirits in Stone
By Darlene Trew Crist (Author) and Robert Llewellyn (Photographer)
“American Gargoyles: Spirits in Stone is the first pictorial essay on the many gargoyles found in the United States, featuring unique stories and breathtaking full-color photographs of these monstrous but delightful angels with a sense of humor…. Lewd or ferocious, holy or humorous, these astonishing carvings are distinguished by fine artistry, vivid imagination, and spiritual mystery.” (Amazon)
Learn the difference between a gargoyle and a chimera and blow everyone’s mind next time conversation turns to Gothic architecture.
Death and the Afterlife: A Chronological Journey, from Cremation to Quantum Resurrection
By Clifford A. Pickover
“Throughout history, the nature and mystery of death has captivated artists, scientists, philosophers, physicians, and theologians. This eerie chronology ventures right to the borderlines of science and sheds light into the darkness. Here, topics as wide ranging as the Maya death gods, golems, and séances sit side by side with entries on zombies and quantum immortality. With the turn of every page, readers will encounter beautiful artwork, along with unexpected insights about death and what may lie beyond.” (Amazon)
This beautiful book includes death-related chapters titled “Sky Burial,” “Quantum Resurrection,” “Vampires,” “Guillotine,” “Electronic Voice Phenomena,” and “Natufian Funeral Flowers,” among many others.
Anatomy in Black
By Emily Evans
“Anatomy in Black is a sophisticated coffee table book for anatomy lovers. It illustrates the beauty of human anatomy reflected in a contemporary hardback book, created entirely in black and gold. Traditional anatomical imagery is given a new lease of life through modern interpretation in this stylish publication.” (Amazon)
Understated. Elegant. Refined. All things innards typically aren’t.
Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell
By Brian May, Denis Pellerin, and Paula Fleming
“In France, around 1860, from the loins of a traditional national fascination with all things diabolical, was born a new sensation – a series of visionary dioramas depicting life in a strange parallel universe called ENFER – Hell – communicated to an eager audience by means of stereoscopic cards, to be viewed in the stereoscopes which had already become popular in the 1850s.” (Amazon)
What’s cuter than a vintage, red-eyed, 3D skeleton with a demon pal? A whole book full of vintage, red-eyed, 3D skeletons and their demon pals, lovingly compiled by the guitarist from Queen.
199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die
By Loren Rhoads
“In this bucket list of travel musts, author Loren Rhoads, who hosts the popular Cemetery Travel blog, details the history and features that make each destination unique. Throughout will be profiles of famous people buried there, striking memorials by noted artists, and unusual elements, such as the hand carved wood grave markers in the Merry Cemetery in Romania.” (Amazon)
This book is ideal for the home base of any darkling experiencing wanderlust.
Mütter Museum Historic Medical Photographs
By College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Laura Lindgren and Gretchen Worden
“The first book on the Mütter Museum contain[s] artful images of the museum’s fascinating exhibits shot by contemporary fine art photographers. Here, the focus is on the museum’s archive of rare historic photographs, most of which have never been seen by the public. Featured are poignant, aesthetically accomplished works ranging from Civil War photographs showing injury and recovery, to the ravages of diseases not yet conquered in the 19th century, to pathological anomalies, to psychological disorders.” (Amazon)
This would be a great addition to your decor, whether you’re fascinated by the history of medical science or wish to impress upon your guests how grateful they ought to be to exist in a time with things like hand-washing and Tylenol.
The Occult, Witchcraft and Magic: An Illustrated History
By Christopher Dell
“The Occult, Witchcraft and Magic is packed with authoritative text and a huge and inspired selection of images, some chosen from unusual sources, including some of the best-known representations of magic and the occult from around the world spanning ancient to modern times.” (Amazon)
Some people prefer water lily scenes, and some people prefer Morgan le Fay.
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
By Amy Stewart and Briony Morrow-Cribbs
“Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.” (Amazon)
If you’re a green witch, this adorable little volume could not be a more perfect topper for your coffee table book stack. It tells visitors that you know what you’re doing, which could be either a reassurance or a threat.
The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic
By Joanna Ebenstein
“These life-sized dissectible wax women reclining on moth-eaten velvet cushions―with glass eyes, strings of pearls, and golden tiaras crowning their real human hair―were created in eighteenth-century Florence as the centerpiece of the first truly public science museum. Conceived as a means to teach human anatomy, the Venus also tacitly communicated the relationship between the human body and a divinely created cosmos; between art and science, nature and mankind. Today, she both intrigues and confounds, troubling our neat categorical divides between life and death, body and soul, effigy and pedagogy, entertainment and education, kitsch and art.” (Amazon)
And you thought Madame Tussaud’s was unsettling…