They’re more than just a pretty decoration for your coffee table.  

By Madison Alcedo
May 13, 2019
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Courtesy of Amazon

While you could be searching the depths of Instagram for your next gram-worthy destination, there’s something special about the old-fashioned methods of finding new places for a getaway — like scouring the best travel guidebooks or flipping through beautiful photos in a coffee table book featuring somewhere exotic.

If, like me, you’re an avid traveler who loves decorating with reminders of said travels, you might also enjoy displaying travel coffee table books around your home — ones that instantly spark memories from past adventures as you flip through their pages. How could you not want to jet off immediately to Mexico after seeing the vibrant architecture and textiles in the book "Living in Mexico"?

Related: 10 Inspiring Books Every Traveler Needs to Read

If you travel to different countries with one specific purpose in mind, like visiting the world’s best libraries, there’s even a coffee table book that’s perfect for you too. Massimo Listri’s "The World's Most Beautiful Libraries" is mesmerizing from cover to cover with full-page photos of some of the world’s finest and oldest libraries.

For that old-fashioned travel inspiration which seems so rare these days, we’ve rounded up our favorite coffee table books that not only will make you want to get off the couch but will ignite your mind and soul.

'Massimo Listri: The World's Most Beautiful Libraries'

As a book dedicated strictly to the keepers of knowledge around the world, "The World's Most Beautiful Libraries" tells the stories of these historical “halls of learning.” Included throughout the pages are stunning images of some of the world’s most sought-after literature collections and libraries including the papal collections of the Vatican Apostolic Library, Trinity College Library, home to the Book of Kells and Book of Durrow, and the holdings of the Laurentian Library in Florence, the private library of the powerful House of Medici, designed by Michelangelo.

To buy: amazon.com, $140 (originally $200)

'Gray Malin: Italy'

It’s hard not to fall in love with Gray Malin’s photography — he provides a unique perspective on beaches and shorelines around the world. Following the success of two of his previous books, "Beaches" and "Escape," his newest title, "Gray Malin: Italy" highlights the dreamy Italian coastal lifestyle. Whether or not you’ve been to Italy’s coasts, Malin’s latest work perfectly captures the vibe of one of the most beautiful parts of Italy, from colorful Cinque Terre to the crystal clear blue waters of Amalfi Coast.

To buy: amazon.com, $26 (originally $40)

'Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places'

In one of National Geographic’s best-selling books, there’s no shortage of destination ideas for your next vacation. In "Destinations of a Lifetime," you’ll find information on the world’s 225 most fascinating places, enough to literally last a lifetime. The pages will take you on a photographic journey across our planet’s most bucket list-worthy spots, which include a range of both natural and manmade structures.

To buy: amazon, $24 (originally $40)

'Living in Mexico'

Throughout the pages of "Living in Mexico," you’ll be immersed in the Aztec and Mayan cultures and Spanish influences — from Costa Careyes to the Yucatán Peninsula. Through some never-before-published images, you’ll experience the country’s diverse lifestyles and architecture and be transported to the heart of eclectic Mexico.

To buy: amazon.com, $16 (originally $20)

'Overview: A New Perspective of Earth'

A unique collection of satellite images, "Overview: A New Perspective of Earth" provides a truly one-of-a-kind perspective on this planet we call home. In more than 200 aerial images, you’ll get a glimpse at the Earth’s natural colors and patterns. The book’s concept was inspired by the “Overview Effect,” a sensation astronauts experience when they’re able to look down and see the Earth as a whole.

To buy: amazon.com, $22 (originally $40)

'The Bucket List: Places to Find Peace and Quiet'

If your bucket list of places to visit keeps getting longer and longer, be prepared to make a few more additions. "The Bucket List: Places to Find Peace and Quiet" is a brilliant collection of some of the world’s best meditation retreats as well as hard-to-find wilderness hangouts. Whether you’re traveling to find yourself or get lost in an adventure, this book has the next places you’ll want to add to your getaway list, ASAP.

To buy: amazon.com, $23 (originally $35)

'LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York'

If you’re one that can’t get enough of landscape or travel photography, this book captures the spirit of two iconic cities — all from above. Photographed precisely at a 90-degree angle, the portraits are meant to emphasize particular patterns of the two cities and how the Earth’s topography has adapted to their urban lifestyles.

To buy: amazon.com, $18 (originally $30)

'Mykonos Muse'

If the blue-and-white color palette of the Greek islands has been calling your name, this book is the perfect precursor to a trip to Mykonos. Portraying historic Greek culture and society, this beautiful book of full-page photos captures the true spirit of the island.

To buy: amazon.com, $75 (originally $85)

'100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Underwater Destinations'

Whether you’re an avid scuba diver or a beginner looking for a new hobby, "100 Dives of a Lifetime" provides a comprehensive guide of all the top diving spots across the world’s greatest bodies of water. With more than 350 underwater images along with expert diving advice from world-famous National Geographic divers and explorers like Brian Skerry, Jessica Cramp, and David Doubilet, you’ll find yourself reading about dozens of dives ranging from night swimming with manta rays in Kona, Hawaii to diving beneath the ice floes of Antarctica.

To buy: amazon.com, $23 (originally $35)

'Gail Albert Halaban: Italian Views'

If you’ve ever wanted to really get to know the locals in a faraway place, Gail Albert Halaban’s books take that curiosity one step further by featuring portraits of people around the world for a behind-the-scenes look at their private home lives. While Albert Halaban’s "Out My Window" series first featured the Parisian lifestyle, her latest work ventures to Italy to illustrate the curious thrill of being an outsider looking in.

To buy: amazon.com, $47 (originally $75)

'She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild'

A one-of-a-kind book, "She Explores" features the unforgettable travel stories of 40 different women. For any woman who has ever wanted to embark on a solo journey, this book is filled with inspiring yet practical tips and advice as you follow along with other women who live out of vans, hike the wild, and sleep under the stars.

To buy: amazon.com, $16 (originally $26)

'An American Odyssey'

What makes this book so unique is that it includes more than 600 pages full of reproduced Photochrom and Photostint postcard images from the private collection of Marc Walter, which were originally produced by the Detroit Photographic Company between 1888 and 1924. The images take the reader on a visual journey through American history, including scenes of Native American settlements and the bustle of New York City's Chinatown.

To buy: amazon.com, $132 (originally $200)

'Vanlife Diaries: Finding Freedom on the Open Road'

If you’ve ever thought about what it would be like to drop everything to road trip the country in an RV or a van, we’ve found the perfect collection of stories that illustrate people who have done just that. Through photos, interviews, and advice, "Vanlife Diaries" dives into exploring what it’s like to be a part of this special nomadic community that celebrates living in tiny rolling homes.

To buy: amazon.com, $17 (originally $25)

This article originallly appeared on Travel + Leisure.

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