The best coffee table books on landscape, architecture, and the natural world

Who am I?

I am a photographer based in Oxford who has published books for 40 years. I love to be outside, whether it's enjoying the urban landscape of historic Oxford or the wild beauty of the Scottish hillside. The charm of the natural world and the romance of historic buildings are equal enthusiasms. To capture some essence of this, either by camera or paintbrush is a true skill. And it's not easy! To really create a new view is a constant challenge which is my driving force, in my own books I try for images that are just slightly different, atmospheric, romantic, yet always recognisable. I love to search out others who achieve the same, this is why I love these books.

I wrote...

Belfast, A View of the City

By Chris Andrews,

Book cover of Belfast, A View of the City

What is my book about?

Contemporary coffee table book, a visual celebration of all that is good in this remarkable city today. Beautiful photographs show the energy, diversity, industry, and quality of a great environment. A place of work, life, and beauty. From the river Lagan with its wildlife to the huge cranes and work at Harland and Wolff, from the craic in the vibrant pubs to the landscape of the wild surrounding hills, from the locations of gardens and historic buildings to the locations of Game of Thrones and more.

A book for everyone: Belfast’s citizens, locals, tourists, visitors for work or pleasure.

This is available only direct from the publishers here.

The books I picked & why

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Art for the Love of Sark

By Various Artists,

Book cover of Art for the Love of Sark

Why this book?

This book is brilliant quality, beautifully designed, and really good value. It shows the natural beauty and fragility of the unspoilt natural environment of Sark, a tiny Channel Island off the coasts of England and France.

To look at its contents is to love it. Illustrations from over 20 internationally famous wildlife artists show how the environment is both rugged and beautiful. A plethora of unpesticided flora vies with an unmatched diversity of wildlife, shown with artistic skill. The life of the people and their unique world is reflected by artists from England, Russia, France, Germany, and Holland.

Its incredible value is to show the world what a lovely place the Island is, though yet under danger of unsympathetic change. Thankfully there are still no motorcars.

Experiencing Oxford

By Ian Davis,

Book cover of Experiencing Oxford

Why this book?

This book is a comprehensive and fascinating look at an elusively handsome city. It shows unknown corners as well as the familiar Spires. History and events feature in attractive informative writing. All balanced by sensitive new imagery from the noted artist, architect, and illustrator Ian Davis. It is a gripping read, stunningly illustrated.

I love the fact that despite my living in Oxford for over 40 years, Ian Davis showed me views I didn’t know and facts I had not learnt. The book is Informative and interesting.

The book's great value is its comprehensive personal view of the City of Oxford, produced in an accessible and affordable format.


By Robert Bateman, Kathryn Dean,

Book cover of Birds

Why this book?

Bob Bateman is a great wildlife observer and a consummate artist, passionate about conservation. This beautifully illustrated book carries the message of care for the environment, its inhabitants, the world! And it carries it in gentle words and striking artistic paintings of nature. His paintings are accurate and realistic, made with superb artistic skill, I love to just flick open the book and stare. It makes you realise the beauty of the natural world. I have met Bob a couple of times, he is a thoughtful, measured, and highly knowledgeable man. His artistic skill is extraordinary.

Franschhoek & Rickety Bridge

By Gerald Hoberman (photographer), Marc Hoberman (photographer),

Book cover of Franschhoek & Rickety Bridge

Why this book?

This book looks at a fascinating and scenic area of South Africa as well as exploring the noted vineyard and winemaking of Rickety bridge. Gerald and Marc are two of South Africa’s noted photographers who have worked tirelessly in exploring this diverse landscape and the people within. It is stunningly illustrated.

I love the fact that it is a fresh new look, with a diversity of images from landscape to township, seascape to vineyard.

The book's value is in showing a working environment in a snapshot of time.

Glen of the Lapwing

By Keith Brockie,

Book cover of Glen of the Lapwing

Why this book?

Keith is another talented and hard-working artist with a fascination for nature. He paints from life, travelling miles over the rugged country of Scotland recording, birds, animals, landscape, and life. Often accompanied by at least one of his dogs, sometimes by bike as well as the essential 4 wheel drive. 

Kieth’s ability to find wildlife in spectacular surroundings is extraordinary, his valuable work shows us the beauty of a stunning landscape and the charm of the life within.

Meeting Keith is a pleasure, a man who imparts knowledge lightly and gives constant encouragement to enjoy the environment he knows.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Scotland, Oxford, and birds?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Scotland, Oxford, and birds.

Scotland Explore 183 books about Scotland
Oxford Explore 13 books about Oxford
Birds Explore 121 books about birds

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Native, Witch-Hunting in Scotland, and The Living Mountain if you like this list.