If you have a shoe lover in your life or consider yourself to be one, the book world is filled with fun footwear-themed titles — from designer monographs and sneaker collectors’ guides to artsy photo books perfect for the coffee table. Ahead, our 20 favorite shoe-centric coffee table boots and where to find them.
Penned by Rodrigo Corral (the designer behind Jay-Z’s “Decoded” book), Esquire contributing editor Alex French and Wall Street Journal contributing editor Howie Kahn, this 320-page tome takes readers inside some of the sneaker industry’s most legendary stories. Featured throughout are photos and interviews with the people at the center of the action, including basketball great Kobe Bryant, tennis icon Serena Williams, Kith founder Ronnie Fieg, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield and advertising titan Jim Riswold.
“It’s All About Shoes”
British street-style photographer Suzanne Middlemass has assembled a collection of her most striking shots of fanciful footwear from around the world in a not-to-miss coffee table book. Middlemass showcases more than 300 showstopping styles spotted on the streets of major fashion capitals including New York, Paris, London, Milan, Berlin, and Copenhagen.
Created by the French shoe legend himself, this artfully presented monograph highlights the extraordinary range of Louboutin’s craft, from his iconic red-sole heels to his fetishistic pieces created in collaboration with David Lynch. The book also features Louboutin’s biography, photos of the interiors of his homes in Paris and Egypt, and behind-the-scenes shots of his studios and workshops.
In his surprisingly unfiltered and revealing memoir, Nike founder Phil Knight — known for rarely speaking to the public — pulls back the curtain on the company’s early beginnings as a scrappy startup and its inspiring transformation into one of the world’s most iconic and profitable brands. In over 400 pages, the mogul shares colorful stories, musings, and pearls of wisdom on life, business, and entrepreneurship.
5. “Vogue: The Shoe”
Award-winning journalist and style writer Harriet Quick has curated more than 300 shoe-focused images from a century of British Vogue shoots, grouped into themes like Town & Country Classics, Cult Style Inspiration and Extreme Heels. The images include work from acclaimed photographers such as Hoyningen-Huene, Irving Penn, Corinne Day, Norman Parkinson, Mario Testino and Nick Knight.
“Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture”
Shoe historian Elizabeth Semmelhack’s book presents a fascinating visual history of sneakers, from the 1800s to today. Drawn from the collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, as well as significant private collections, museums and the archives of brands including Adidas, Converse, Reebok and Nike, “Out of the Box” serves up interviews and essays by designers, collectors and cultural historians to chronicle the technical innovation, trends, social history and marketing campaigns that have shaped the sneaker world.
“Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker”
Celebrated shoe designer Manolo Blahnik reimagines the classic fairytale “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” blending in elements of his own life story to deliver a new twist on an enduring favorite. Written by best-selling author Camilla Morton, the book is brought to life with original color illustrations created by Blahnik himself.
A must-have for sneakerheads, this encyclopedic book from Mathieu Le Maux provides a visual history of the world’s most iconic and coveted kicks — from old favorites like the Nike Air Force 1 to more avant-garde styles like the Rick Owens x Adidas split-sole runner. The book also shares interesting stories and anecdotes such as the birth of the Converse Chuck Taylor and runner Jesse Owens’ controversial Adidas shoes from the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Co-written by Valerie Steele and Colleen Hill, “Shoe Obsession” explores Western culture’s fascination with extravagant shoes. The photo-illustrated book showcases more than 150 pairs of the most extreme and fashion-forward styles of the past 12 years, including designs by Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Pierre Hardy, Bruno Frisoni, Azzedine Alaïa, Balenciaga and others.
“Shoes: An Illustrated History”
Packed with historical and social detail, Rebecca Shawcross’ book presents a colorful array of shoes from around the world, ranging from prehistory to the present. Utilizing historical documents, paintings, photographs, advertisements, and quotations, she examines how shoes are not just a utilitarian object but reveals the culture of the times in which they were worn.
“Life of Style”
“Life of Style” chronicles American shoe designer Vince Camuto’s humble beginnings to the building of his empire, highlighting the people and places that influenced Camuto’s sense of style and eye for detail. The photograph-filled tome also takes you inside the designer’s private residences, including his oceanfront estate Wooldon Manor in Southampton, New York and a French-style château in Greenwich, Connecticut.
12. “The Shoe Book”
Written by esteemed fashion journalist and author, Nancy MacDonell, “The Shoe Book” details the history of shoes, exploring the different styles and fashions of footwear over the centuries. Complete with alluring photos and interviews with fashion tastemakers, the Assouline Anthology book covers Marilyn Monroe’s popularization of the boudoir shoe, how Louboutin aided in the modernization of the espadrille and much more.
“Sneaker Freaker. The Ultimate Sneaker Book”
Spanning 100 years of sneaker history, each chapter of “The Ultimate Sneaker Book” takes a look at the industry’s evolution, from the iconic Air Max and Air Force to influence of Michael Jordan and Kanye’s Yeezy. Packed with over 650 pages of insider knowledge and photos, this is another book all sneakerheads should have on their coffee table.
“Complex Presents: Sneaker of the Year: The Best Since ’85”
This book covers 35 years of sneaker culture since Nike released Michael Jordan’s first sneaker, the Air Jordan 1, in 1985. With over 240 pages of vivid photos, fun illustrations and input from some of the world’s most influential voices in the sneaker world, hypebeasts will love flipping through “Sneaker of the Year.”
15. “Sneakers x Culture: Collab”
Unlike the other sneaker books on our list, this one is dedicated to celebrating the buzziest sneaker collaborations through the years. It chronicles over 80 major works between the biggest athletic brands like Nike, Adidas, Converse, Reebok and Puma and huge talents like Virgil Abloh, Rihanna, Pharrell William and Supreme. Author and Senior Curator of the Bata Shoe Museum, Elizabeth Semmelhack, explores the history of these partnerships, beginning with Jack Purcell and Converse.
16. “Killer Heels”
In 2014, art historian and curator of Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Lisa Small, became known for her blockbuster exhibit, Killer Heels. This book essentially recreates the exhibit in print form. The book takes readers through the history of high heels and their cultural significance. Highlighting more than 160 shoe designs, from 16th-century Venetian platforms to Christian Louboutins, “Killer Heels” is filled with striking photos, sketches and fashion stories, as well as statements from included artists in the book like Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, Zach Gold and Steven Klein. Additionally, the book features sentiments from several designers included in the exhibition, including Brian Atwood and Pierre Hardy.
17. “Where’d You Get Those?”
“Where’d You Get Those?” is an insider’s account of the earliest days of New York City sneaker culture. With fabulous illustrations throughout, author Bobbito Garcia examines sneakers released between the years of 1970 and 1987, as well as the establishment of corporate giants like Nike and Adidas and how sneaker culture became what it is today. The tome even includes a chapter on New York City’s playground basketball legends, the best secret stores to purchase rare kicks and the right way to care for your sneakers.
18. “Our Shoes, Our Selves”
In “Our Shoes, Our Selves: 40 Women, 40 Stories, 40 Pairs of Shoes” actress Bridget Moynahan and journalist Amanda Benchley ask 40 notable women, including icons like Bobbi Brown, Danica Patrick and Misty Copeland, to share the memories behind their most meaningful pair of shoes. This is a truly sentimental read for shoe lovers.
20. “Shoestrology: Discover Your Birthday Shoe”
Perfect for those who live the stars, or simply find horoscopes entertaining, this pick blends astrology and the art of shoe design. Astrologers Tali and Ophira Edut have taken over 350 shoes, from the Chanel ballet flat to the Alexander McQueen Armadillo, and paired them with the personality type often associated with each day of the year. Featuring pages covered in original watercolors by noted fashion illustrator Samantha Hahn, readers will find descriptions of every birthday shoe inside.