8 Coffee Table Books You Should Get That Won't Just Collect Dust At Home

From poetry to cooking, there is something for everyone.

Cover image via Malachi Vethamani , TikTok , Choo Beng Teong

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1. The Towns of Malaya by Neil Khor

This is a great one for you history buffs, providing a glimpse into what Malaysia looked like in the decades prior to its independence (then known as Malaya).

It depicts 35 towns that existed during the period between the late 19th century up until 1957. These are mainly categorised into royal, port and mining, and administrative towns.

The book explores the many influences of Western culture and customs on the development of these towns during the British occupation of Malaya, ranging from architecture, food, and the daily lives of its people.

You can get this book here.

2. The Tropical Malaysian House by Robert Powel

Fast forward to modern times, this book features Malaysian homes designed with such finesse that even those who aren’t architecture fans will be impressed.

The 25 houses shown here are among the most innovative undertakings by Malaysian designers and architects between the years 2009 and 2018. 

Bringing together elements of the past from kampung house days with contemporary designs, these creators are redefining the meaning of a modern tropical house.

You can get this book here.

3. The Little Mamak by Mohd Azmi

Image via Areca Books

Why not add a cute comic book to your collection? Local caricature artist Mohd Azmi has built a reputation for his quirky and nostalgic style reminiscent of the classic Lat comics in the 70s and 80s.

In his second book, he tells a story inspired by his own upbringing, about a young boy who learns about the word 'Mamak' for the first time.

Through the help of his grandmother, he discovers the history of Penang Mamaks and how they arrived in Malaya, bringing with them their rich cultures and traditions.

You can get this book here

4. Wanted: Botak Chin by Danny Lim

Image via Gerak Budaya

The marvel-esque quality of these drawings are something to admire as illustrator Michelle Lee depicts the infamous stories of Malaysia's most notable criminal.

An assortment of tales consisting of details from a psychiatrist who interviewed him and other urban legends, such as his speculated supernatural powers, this is definitely worth a read for those who are lovers of the crime genre.

You can get this book here.

5. As Cooked on TikTok by TikTok

Image via MPH Online

This is most certainly not your average cookbook. TikTok spiked in popularity during the early days of the pandemic, and has since been responsible for some of the world's most viral trends.

One of the biggest subgenres of viral videos on the platform are recipe videos. From Cloud Cakes to Ramen Carbonara, this book has over 60 recipes that were made famous on the platform and credits the most notable creators responsible for them.

You can get this book here.  

6. Kuih: From Apam to Wajik by Hidayah Amin

Image via Kawah Buku

While we're on the topic of food, let's keep the ball rolling with this encyclopedia of kuih by Hidayah Amin. This is the only book you'll need on your journey through the diverse world of Malay desserts.

This definitive guide comes with beautiful illustrations of 120 different kinds of Malay kuih, inspired by the author's desire to ensure the knowledge of these desserts live on for future generations.

You can get this book here

7. Malaysian Millennial Voices by Malachi Vethamani

Image via Gerak Budaya

If you ever wanted to know more about the world of poetry, what better place to start than with a collection of writings by some of the best young poets in the country.

Written by Malaysians under the age of 35, this book comprises 69 diverse poems that span themes such as satire, identity, death, and many more.

Using a language that is fitting for the social media generation, this is a collection of poems that won't leave you scratching your head.

You can get this book here.  

8. Birds Of Malaysia In Watercolor by Choo Beng Teong

Image via Areca Books

Artist and bird fanatic Choo Beng Tiong shares his love for these feathered creatures that inhabit our land through this jaw-dropping compilation of artworks.

With over 120 species of Malaysian birds, you'll be so captivated looking at these animals brought to life by amazing watercolour paintings that may even forget to read the information and background he provides to accompany each one.

You can get this book here

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