E-readers work dandy for straight stories, but some books demand the traditional treatment: lush photos, glossy pages, and a heft that commands considered travel. God bless the flip-worthy, full-color coffee-table book. Whether you're shopping for a foodie, design geek, or facial-hair devotee, we've picked a few of our recent favorites.
Pantone: The 20th Century in Color 
Prune and Gray Dawn infused Edwardian parties. Trekking Green and Saxony Blue helped color-code the World War I home front. Blue Bell gingham and Poppy Red slippers made The Wizard of Oz. In this visual feast for color nerds, hue gurus Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker identify the shades that shaped our collective color palette. ($25)
Photographer Patrick de Wilde has a sharp eye for undulating landscapes and the elegance of animals in action. From aerial views of Grant's zebras in Kenya to close-ups of 220-pound elephant incisors in Tanzania, these stunning shots span seven African countries and make for a safari you can enjoy from your couch. ($45)
Design*Sponge at Home 
For the 75,000 people who read Design*Sponge every day (making it one of the most popular design sites on the web), Grace Bonney isn't merely a chronicler of modern tastes—she's an evangelist for the unfussy, expressive home decor. This tome includes 70 home tours, 50 DIY projects, 50 makeovers, and more than 700 photos of artsy folks and their inspiring spaces. ($35)
When does facial hair cross the line? As a judge once said of pornography, "I know it when I see it." If so, this slim book of stark portraits is decidedly beard porn—from eyebrow-grazing curled moustaches to chops that appear to eat a man's face. Matthew Rainwaters photographed these specimens at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage, Alaska. ($15)
Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design 
Designer Michael Embacher is a bit obsessive. Exhibit A: the 200-plus bicycles in his personal collection. Exhibit B: this book, the second he's penned on the design philosophy of a two-wheeled life. From the sleek to the strange to the truly innovative, 100 detailed bike profiles will captivate cycle aficionados. ($35)
Momofuku Milk Bar 
For foodies who huffed that David Chang's best-selling cookbook, Momofuku, didn't include Milk Bar's addictive desserts, this scrumptious read is a real treat. Pastry pro Christina Tosi holds nothing back, not even the recipe for her famous Crack Pie, which is made with heart-staggering amounts of butter, sugar, heavy cream, and egg yolks. Sweet! ($35)
A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.