These stunning coffee table books are sure to be conversation-starters.

“Four Seasons of Yosemite: a Photographer’s Journey,” by Mark Boster (hardcover, Los Angeles Times, 2011, 125 pages, $34.95). In more than 100 stunning photographs, Boster brings the eye of a 21st Century photographer and captures the magic of the national park’s icons — Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and others — in color that Ansel Adams had celebrated in black and white.

“Sea,” by Mark Laita (hardcover, Abrams, 2011, unpaged, $50). With cutting-edge photographic techniques, Laita unveils the full splendor and other-worldliness of the ocean’s inhabitants in an entirely new and thrilling way.

“Simply Beautiful Photographs,” by Annie Griffiths (hardcover, National Geographic Society, 2010, 504 pages, $35). Reflecting the many variations on the universal theme of beauty, Griffiths takes readers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in National Geographic’s famed Image Collection.

“Universe: the Definitive Guide,” edited by Martin Rees (hardcover, DK Publishing, 2012, 528 pages, $50) Full of stunning out-of-this world images reflecting recent advances in space imagery, this groundbreaking encyclopedia takes readers on a journey from our solar system all the way to the farthest limits of space.

“Dogs,” by Tim Flach; text by Lewis Blackwell (hardcover, Abrams, 2010, 215 pages, $50). Since the wolf first snuck into the caves of our ancestors to take warmth from the fire, dogs have been man’s constant companion. In this stunning book, Flach delves deep into the psyche of this enduring bond with Canis familiaris to present an exquisite study of “man’s best friend.”

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