Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Coffee Table Books

Today, my subject is coffee table books. But, not just any coffee table books. I don't bring home a lot of them, but two of them caught my attention at the library because I always loved their subjects. And, the third book is about one of my passions, Broadway. I bought that one.

I wish you could see the photographs in all of these books. Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story covers musical theater, from Tin Pan Alley and Broadway to the movies of Hollywood. Musical theater is discussed beginning with the early history. And, each show is covered in detail, including composers, performers, show posters. Show Boat is the first show, with key facts; Oscar Hammerstein II was the director of the stage show, based on Edna Ferber's book. Jerome Kern wrote the music. Lyrics are by Hammerstein.  It opened Dec. 27, 1927 at Ziegfeld Theater, New York. It discusses the importance of London's West End. It's a fascinating book. Anyone who loves history of the theater will love the stories of the songs. And, of course it covers everyone - Ira and George Gershwin, George Kaufman, Busby Berkeley. There are the movies that starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. There are timelines for important shows such as The Wizard of Oz. And, of course,  the work of today's masters, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim, are covered. Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story is a fascinating compilation for anyone interested in musical theater.

The editors of Southern Living bring us a gorgeous book, as beautiful as their magazine. Southern Living: 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture covers the history and coverage of that magazine. I loved that magazine, and subscribed to it for fifteen years while I lived in Florida. It truly does meet the original mission of championing "the region's food, homes, gardens, cities, arts, literature, and natural beauty". Southern Living was always stunning. It usually has picture of food on the cover. They asked readers, home cooks, to share their recipes. Those recipes, some of which are included in the book, were for fried chicken, biscuits, gumbo, potato salad, ham, gorgeous cakes, "classic Southern dishes". The magazine always celebrated the homes and gardens, the family reunions, the crafts and beauty of the South. It's still a joy to pick up the this book and see that celebration of the South.

I wish there was an attractive cover on the book I bought because I'm so excited about it.  I can't wait to get into Eric Grode's Book of Broadway: 150 Definitive Plays and Musicals. Each show has two pages. I'll just pick one show. There are two photos for The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart, and Richard Stilgoe. There's humor in Grode's writing. "His original plan was to rely on existing opera music; luckily for him and his accountant, that plan changed." The history of the show is covered. And, each piece has a sidebar with dates, synopsis, awards, noted revivals and adaptations, and a list of the original stars. With my passion for live theater, I couldn't be any happier that I bought this book.

As I said, I borrowed two of these beautiful coffee table books from the library. So, I'm not saying you should spend the money for expensive books. I just wanted to share three books I'm finding fascinating.


Kaye Barley said...


oh my.

Coffee table books. If I had tons and tons of money, I would be spending a good portion of it on books, of course, and a lot of those would be coffee table books. I give in to the urge occasionally - and have been able to find some particularly wonderful ones in used bookstores.

Big pop-up books - another whole book category that I'd like to be able to indulge myself in more regularly.

Lesa said...

Kaye, I know how much you love pop-up books. Oh, I imagine you can find some beautiful coffee table books in used bookstores. I bet the pop-up books don't show up there as often, or, at least not in pristine condition. Just fun, aren't they?

Laurie Iglesias said...

Thanks for sharing information about these coffee table books. Rarely are they covered. I read a wonderful coffee table book called Novel Interiors, which incorporated decor and the books connected with it. These books are gems.