Coffee-table books must, by definition, be visually appealing. But the best ones are also full of substance, engaging the mind while delighting the eye. This season’s crop of releases doesn’t disappoint, with subject matter ranging from the simply pretty (a master class on women’s footwear) to the provocative (reflections on faith in contemporary art). In between, there’s plenty to learn from, like a visual guide to the iconography of contemporary logo design and a photo collection of wooden buildings that offer lessons on sustainable architecture. All make good company for an idle afternoon.
1 THE ART OF FLYING
Air travel may not be as glamorous as it used to be, but the good old days live on in art and photography. From charming vintage Pan Am uniforms to sleek first-class cabins, this makes for top-notch armchair traveling.
This guide to contemporary masters of footwear design showcases an international offering of fanciful shoes, from rubber platforms and fuzzy sandals to embroidered booties and LED-illuminated pumps.
3 ART & RELIGION IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Rosen explores faith in contemporary art, from Kehinde Wiley’s portrayal of Israelis living on the margins to provocative updates on the Last Supper.
4 LOGO MODERNISM
Few designs are more universally recognizable than the logos of our favorite international brands. In this guide to corporate graphic design, icons are explained and categorized by shape and typography.
5 100 CONTEMPORARY WOOD BUILDINGS
From a functional tree house to inspired restaurants, this collection instructs on the ecology of wooden construction–with plenty of eye candy for architecture enthusiasts.
6 THE HIGH LINE
James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio & Renfro
A guide to the rebirth of New York City’s High Line, this book shows the formerly derelict site’s makeover into an alluring community space and tourist attraction.
This appears in the November 30, 2015 issue of TIME.