Not Just Pretty Pictures: Coffee Table Books You Need in Your Life

We’re slipping into the time of year where I find staying at home an increasingly attractive option, despite the fact that I’m generally the type of person who prefers to be out and about. Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy creating a fun home space that I can both work and relax in – so it’s not exactly a bad thing that I want to spend more time here.

Coffee table books are a particular indulgence of mine – and Gary’s – and we’ve accumulated quite a collection since we started living together! And during the chillier, greyer Sundays, escaping into one of these big, beautiful books with a mug of something hot is one of my favourite ways to spend an hour.

Sometimes coffee table books can be all style and no substance though and, as much as I can appreciate that, I do still like to read something while I’m leafing through them!

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite titles that deliver both, in case you’re looking for something new to reach for on your next cosy day at home…

What I Love About Movies by Little White Lies is a collective celebration of films by some of the best in the business. From Ryan Gosling, to Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola and more, each answering the simple question (“What do you love about movies?”) in their own unique style alongside some gorgeous illustrations.

Did someone say Wes Anderson? The Grand Budapest Hotel by Matt Zoller Seitz is a comprehensive guide to one of Anderson’s most popular productions, filled with interviews, costume designs, research notes, a critical essay and much more. This pastel pink beauty is always sitting in our living room, ready to whisk us away to Wes’ world.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost is what you might expect from a book about one of TV’s most curious cult classics: it is not what it seems. This oversized, hardback title is actually a mystery novel in the format of a coffee table book – with the reader taking on the role of an FBI agent. The pages are peppered with photographs, transcripts and other evidence to digest. A must-have for any fan of the show!

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Finally, Places to Go, People to See by Kate Spade is one of my most recent additions and covers a topic close to my heart: travel! The vintage glamour of the jet-set meets inspirational quotes, travel tips (like what to buy if you ever find yourself in Buenos Aires and the BEST room service midnight snacks!) and oodles of vibrant photos. Warning: wanderlust is pretty much guaranteed with this one…

For me, these coffee table books tick all of the boxes: they look stylish when I display them around the flat, they’re filled with amazing content and have lush, eye-catching images to get lost in.

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What are YOUR favourite coffee table books? And other things to do while spending a day at home?

Self Care Sessions: 3 Books to Nourish Your Mind, Body and Soul

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In my Self Care Sessions series, you’ll find me sharing ways that I’ve been investing time and care in myself, just in case any of you guys have been feeling the pressure and are looking for ways to balance things a bit better too! You can check out my last post here!

I’ve always been a bookworm and when I was little I’d read pretty much anything I could get my paws on, even if I probably shouldn’t have been reading it quite yet (a few Stephen King books spring to mind…). What I loved most was getting lost in novels and spending an afternoon wrapped up in music biographies. While stories – real life or fictional – still fascinate me, as I get older I find myself enjoying other people’s advice, experience and views on a particular topic.

Most recently, I’ve been enjoying a few titles that carry a similar theme of self care, yet they all seem to approach it from a different angle. Books ideal for keeping handy in case you need a little boost! Two of them are very handbag-friendly, whereas the other would be right at home on your kitchen counter.

I’d love to share the details with you, so here’s a round up! These are 3 books to nourish your mind, body and soul…

self care

For the mind: A Mindfulness Guide for the FRAZZLED by Ruby Wax. When I hear the name Ruby Wax, I instantly associate her with her comedy writing and performance. However, she has also done a great deal of work and studying out of the limelight – earning a Masters from Oxford in Cognitive Therapy and being awarded an OBE for her services to mental health awareness.

FRAZZLED is Ruby’s guide to shaking off stress, de-cramming our brains and living a happier life. From the science behind how our minds actually work, to dealing with relationships, this book covers a LOT but does it in an accessible way that balances razor-sharp personal anecdotes with practical advice. You’ve nothing to lose but your stress.

self care

For the body: Keep It Real by Calgary Avansino. Part recipe book, part guide to living in a more healthy, organised (and did I mention delicious?) way, what I love about Calgary’s book is that it seems to be compilation of so many subjects that are popular right now.

Covering plant-powered diets, meal prep, ditching refined sugar, the importance of fuelling our bodies correctly and actually pulling off a successful grocery shop (we’ve all made a few poor choices in aisle 12, am I right?!), this is a great go-to guide for anyone looking to explore any of these topics. Not only that, but Keep It Real is also stuffed with yummy recipes. This book was a lovely gift from my brother, and I always feel motivated to make healthier choices after flicking through it!

For the soul: Wake Up! Escaping A Life on Autopilot by Chris Baréz-Brown. This book is quite literally a wake up call, and a call to action for anyone who is going through the motions and missing out on real moments and connections as a result. The book is based on the theory that 80% of our time is spent on autopilot, a result of buzzing around, being tremendously busy and always thinking about the next thing on the list, rather than enjoying the present. Sound familiar?

Wake Up! is the most interactive book I’m sharing with you today, filled with stimulating exercises and activities to help us break free from the trap of autopilot. The book is also designed to act as a journal, with spaces to track our progress towards living a calmer, more memorable life. It’s all about making each day count and that’s something I can really get behind.

The last thing that these titles all have in common is that they are perfect for dipping in and out of, thanks to chapters structured in short chunks. It means that they will be easy to return to, if I ever need to, without reading from cover to cover.

I’d recommend the above books to anyone looking to practice a bit more self care, and want to know if you’ve read anything lately that you’ve enjoyed!




Feelin’ LUSH with Cosmetics To Go!

photo 3(1) I love an underdog story. Rooting for the little guy to overcome challenges and become strong in the face of adversity is something I think most of us can relate to…now that I think of it, isn’t that the plot of most Disney films? I guess that might have something to do with it! This week, I’ve been learning about another story. Except, unlike the movies, this one is real. In this story, a small company rocketed to success and then almost as quickly, lost it all, only to later re-emerge and become even more triumphant. Intrigued? So was I…

Tales of success, loss and re-birth are even more interesting when they involve people or companies that you already feel invested in. I root for them even more! Earlier this week, I was invited to attend the Scottish book launch for Danger! Cosmetics To Go, the first ever book from LUSH cosmetics. The book charts the rise and fall of Cosmetics to Go, the company that preceded LUSH as we know it today. I’ve been a happy LUSH customer for several years now, but I had no idea that a book was in the works – not to mention one with such a powerful story to tell.

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At the launch I chatted with Mira Manga, the author of the book and all-round superwoman. Mira explained that she was commissioned to write the book by Mark Constantine (OBE, LUSH Co-founder and managing director) after he read some of Mira’s self-penned dating disasters!

Although the book is about the company – and a huge part of that is the products, which were (and still are) innovative and way ahead of their time – the book is also about the people behind the company and their thoughts and feelings. Anyone that has ever shopped in LUSH will be all too aware of that friendly, personal experience that LUSH, its stores and it’s people offer. But they weren’t always the massive success that they are now. The brainchild of a beautician and a herbal hair doctor, Cosmetics to Go were a mail-order cosmetics company that shot to fame by revolutionising beauty products and making people smile with their creations.

A strike against boring bath times, these bath bombs wooed even the most reluctant bather to make pilgramage to the tub where they would oooh! and ahhh! as spheres of sizzling delight were unleashed to effervesce furiously.

After six short (but impressive!) years, the company collapsed following their Summer Sale of 1993. This is the part of the story that is pretty devastating – but things always tend to get worse before they get better. The company re-built and re-branded itself as LUSH, rising like a delicious-smelling phoenix (how’s THAT for powerful imagery?!).

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With Mira Manga

I’ve always admired LUSH for their products, ethos, branding and customer service, but upon discovering their backstory I now have even more respect for them. The book itself is beautiful, colourful; an artfully designed ‘scrapbook’ which features original designs and photographs from the Cosmetics to Go days. But aside from looking pretty, it’s also a great case study of a company that triumphed over failure and didn’t give up, even when things became bleak.

At the launch, I learned all about the process of creating the book (written in 23 months!) from Mira and the invention of the products that went on to become LUSH’s most iconic best-sellers. The team at LUSH Buchanan Street were also on hand and were total rockstars for making everyone feel pampered and very welcome! All year round, the store is a delight, but I find that at Christmas LUSH really pulls out the big guns and this year is no exception. I learned all about what goodies they have lined up for this year, with three main collections (the glitter-tastic Ziggy Stardust range is my favourite) and the return of old faithfuls – including Snow Fairy (AKA girlcrack) and the yummy handmade soaps.

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Danger! Cosmetics To Go is available in LUSH stores and online. Whether you’re a fan of LUSH products or just interested in reading a real-life tale of the little guys finally making it, it’s worth picking up a copy.

…even a traumatic ending can lead to new adventures and beginnings

Inspired by brains, bravery and bath bubbles,

Miss West End Girl x

Thank you very much to Mira, Olivia and the team at LUSH Buchanan Street! You guys are awesome.