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Sometimes, when you have a rare hour to yourself, the effort required to get back into that bedside novel (you have to climb the stairs for a start), can feel like hard work. So, why don’t you pour yourself something cool and strong, and take a languid scroll though the latest clutch of chic glossy coffee table tomes, chosen below by the biblio-brainboxes at Abingdon’s Mostly Books.

Coveted: Art and Innovation in High Jewellery (£69.95)

A breathtaking moment on every page in this exquisite book. Humans have been crafting elements into jewellery for thousands of years, turning pieces of rock and metal into dazzling artistic creations. The gorgeously bound and presented tome Coveted brings together profiles of 75 of the most prominent jewellers working today with each artist discussing his or her approach, materials, and workmanship accompanied by beautiful colour photographs of their work.

Vivienne Westwood Catwalk: The Complete Collections (£55)

Part of the best-selling Catwalk series, Vivienne Westwood Catwalk is a celebration of 40 years of iconic collections from one of the most legendary fashion houses of all time. Filled with personal accounts, pictures, and anecdotes, this is a as-never-before-seen insight into the world of the designer who’s challenged and reinvented the fashion industry at every turn. The whole Catwalk series has been brilliant, and we can’t wait for this next instalment. 

The Plant-Hunter’s Atlas: A World Tour of Botanical Adventures, Chance Discoveries and Strange Specimens by Ambra Edwards (£30.00)

A must-have for any keen horticulturalist. The Plant Hunter’s Atlas is a lavishly illustrated journey through the history of horticultural discovery and each entry is illustrated with botanical artwork from Kew Garden’s unparalleled collection. Travel across the continents and centuries with the likes of Sir Joseph Banks, Charles Darwin, Tadeas Haenke and Ernest Henry Wilson. The perfect coffee-table book: one can enjoy the wealth of information or simply flick through the elegant illustrations.

Alice, Curiouser and Curiouser (£35.00)

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published over 150 years ago, has been captivating people for generations. Alice, Curiouser and Curiouser explores the broad artistic influence of this Victorian classic ­– from theatre, film, to the art of Peter Blake and Salvador Dali. A fun and playful look through one of the most enduring stories of all time that we think will appeal to readers of all ages.

The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers by Arthur Parkinson (£22.00)

Perfect for those with limited garden space who want to create lavish displays of flowers. Adam Parkinson takes us through his garden and its elegant floral displays in this celebration of flowers that is simultaneously a how-to guide on creating the perfect potted garden.

Hold Still: A Portrait of our Nation in 2020 (£24.95)

Focused on three key themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness – this book presents a unique portrait of the UK during the 2020 lockdown, through 100 community photographs. The brainchild of The Duchess of Cambridge, the collection contains photographs by people of all ages and offers a sweeping view of a national survival. A poignant and touching book.

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 (£25.00)

This uplifting publication – produced to accompany a major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts – includes 116 of Hockney’s iPad paintings and shows to full effect Hockney’s singular skill in capturing the exuberance of nature. At the beginning of 2020, just as global Covid-19 restrictions were coming into force, the artist was at his studio in Normandy. From there, he witnessed the arrival of spring, and recorded the blossoming of the surrounding landscape. With the weather (finally!) warming up, this is the perfect book with which to celebrate the joy of the seasons.

Secrets of the Whales by Brian Skerry (£25)    

Featuring the arresting underwater images of Brian Skerry, who has explored and documented oceans for nearly four decades, this enthralling book offers a unique look at the ocean’s most enigmatic animal. Filled with breath-taking photographs and amazing insights – such as the evidence of organised whale singing contests – Secrets of the Whales is both brilliantly informative and visually spectacular.

Mostly Books in Abingdon is open for browsing 9am-5pm Mon-Sat. Existing stock can be bought online or anything not in stock can be ordered to arrive within 48 hours.

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