Coffee-Table Books that Capture the Wild Wonder of our World

Coffee-Table Books that Capture the Wild Wonder of our World

To travel is as much a sensory journey as it is a physical one. In times when hunkering down close to home is necessary, feeding hungry imaginations with vibrant visuals helps temper our wanderlust. Below, world-class photographers including Jimmy Chin and Lynsey Addario place the world in our laps.

surfers. Afghan women shrouded in billowing lapis lazuli
burqas. Free solo climber Alex Honnold clinging to the jagged edge
of a rocky precipice. Coming-of-age rituals in the Democratic
Republic of Congo’s Kuba Kingdom. Right now, visceral cultural
immersion into the many types of lives lived across the globe feels
distant. Luckily for us, the breathtaking work of pioneering
photographers places snapshots of our wildly varied world at our
fingertips. Consider each of the seven inspiring titles below the
gift that keeps on giving. (For the photography-lovers out there,
don’t miss our wanderlust-packed latest issue, Celebration.) Settle down, swish
your fingers across the lively pages and let your imagination drift

Transporting tomes to thrill (and educate) travel


By Sebastião Salgado

Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado spent six years deep
in the thick jungle of the Amazon, resulting in this pièce de
résistance. Amazônia visually documents the climate, wildlife and
lives of those who live in this emerald-green wilderness region.
Salgado celebrates the indigenous people as guardians of the
Amazon’s fragile ecosystem, under continued threat from climate
change and development. Images of bulging clouds gathering like
clumped cotton over glistening bodies of water and the rituals of
family life fill Amazônia’s many pages. For a visceral immersion
into the world of Salgado’s photographs – accompanied by a
soundtrack of thunder, rain and the rustlings of animals – the
Amazônia exhibition is on until 13 February
2022 at Rome’s National Museum of 21st Century Arts.

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Kinfolk Travel: Slower Ways to See the World

By John Burns

Kinfolk excels in championing intentionality, whether it be via
lifestyle-driven interiors, exploring lesser-known destinations or
communal ways of living. Its latest book, Kinfolk Travel: Slower
Ways to See the World is no exception. These 347 pages will flood
your imagination with possibility. A few spreads in, you’ll
inevitably start to ponder, “what if?” Is a meandering cruise along
England’s canals, a biking excursion in off-grid Idaho or a
wine-tasting odyssey in Lebanon’s ancient vineyards in your future?
By the time your eyes reach the “let’s go” momentum of section
three, Transit, they just might be. And that’s the point. This
uplifting, exploding-with-content coffee-table book is one that
makes you rethink what you thought you knew about modes of travel
and what it is that makes a stellar trip – all shot in Kinfolk’s
signature moody style.

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Of Love & War

By Lynsey Addario

Addario somehow manages to be everywhere. Showcasing the Dantean
horror of the California wildfires, tracking climate
change-attributed flooding in Sudan, covering the inconsolable
grief of those bereaved by Covid-19, the rise, fall and rise again
of the Taliban in Afghanistan, malnutrition in Yemen… we could go
on – it seems like there is nothing Addario’s lens doesn’t witness.
This 2018 collection of images and recollections (plus, a
fascinating packing list) gathers many of Addario’s most iconic
shots and reads like a memoir. (Although she’s written one of
those, too – the fittingly titled It’s What I Do.)

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By Mami Wata and Selema Masekela

This dynamic, utterly joyful book came together during the
lockdowns of 2020, when a crowd of intrepid surfers crowdfunded the
concept on Kickstarter. Afrosurf, the result of that tenacity,
charts wave-rider culture across 18 coastal African countries
including Mozambique, South Africa and Somalia. Expect fascinating
essays, energetic playlists and staggeringly beautiful photography
aplenty. Better yet, 100 per cent of the proceeds goes straight
back into supporting access to surf
for children in need.

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There and Back: Photographs from the Edge

By Jimmy Chin

Jimmy Chin is one of the most lauded filmmakers and mountaineers
of our time, a fact no one would dispute after having watched the
National Geographic documentary Free Solo or poring over this
awe-inspiring book. There and Back tracks the terror and triumphs
of a life spent taking on the world’s tallest, toughest peaks. Chin
has gathered over 20 years’ worth of images – many taken in
death-defying situations – including portraits of athletes such as
Alex Honnold, Travis Rice and Kit DesLauriers in action. Beyond the
sheer human grit of these courageous figures living, quite
literally, on the edge, it’s the stark natural beauty of the
slopes, rock faces and needle-like summits captured so poetically
by Chin that stay with you. For a more in-depth look at the stories
that define There and Back, grab a copy of SUITCASE Vol. 35,

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African Twilight: The Vanishing Rituals and Ceremonies of the African Continent

By Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

From budding photographers in 1970s Kenya to best friends, Carol
Beckwith and Angela Fisher have spent the last 40 years documenting
the rituals and ceremonies of tribes throughout Africa – many of
which are sadly vanishing. African Twilight compiles this dynamic
duo’s last 15 years of work into two magnificent volumes. Beckwith
and Fisher are masterful photographers with an eye for drama and
colour, but, more than that, their work is akin to a historical
archive, documenting the significant cultural moments happening in
Africa’s rural corners for the generations to come.

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Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles and the Vibrancy of Rajasthan

By Christine Chitnis

Garlands of riotously vivid flowers, shimmering jewels,
billowing saris saturated with the turmeric yellow and tomato red
we associate with India: this book is an ode to the exuberant
beauty of Rajasthan. Author Christine Chitnis spent 10 years
documenting the colours and culture of this northern state. As
you’ve probably gathered from the title, the core of the book
centres on textiles, but each of the five sections is imaginatively
organised by the dominant shades of this diverse region, namely
marigold, ivory, rose, sandstone and royal blue. A word of advice
from us: wait for a dreary, grey afternoon, brew a fragrant chai
and lose yourself in the smart essays and lively images that fill
this glorious book.

Read now

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