Calling all preppies! These are the best preppy books to keep in your classic home or gift to others, with a focus on swoon-worthy coffee table books.

preppy books on bookshelf with bookend

I’m a self-proclaimed preppie at heart myself and these are the best preppy books I personally adore. Of note, after I initially created this list, I pared it down a few times to share only my absolute favorites. I think any and every preppy will appreciate them as much as I do.

The Best Preppy Books

Kate Spade New York: All in Good Taste

Best for the hostess

New York Times bestseller

All in Good Taste is the preppy brand Kate Spade’s unpretentious guide to modern-day hosting that’s easy but has an air of deliberate polish.
 
It’s filled with how-tos, personal essays, anecdotes, recipes, and a healthy dash of style. Learn how to curate a vibrant guest list, guide a dinner-table discussion and deal with Instagram etiquette at dinner. It’s a modern classic!


Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style by Mark D. Sikes

Best for the home decor enthusiast

New York Times bestseller

In Beautiful, interior designer Mark D. Sikes celebrates traditional American style today in a modern way. Think: indoor/outdoor living, natural fibers, the ever-preppy blue and white color scheme, stripes, wicker, timeless neutrals, chinoiserie, garden greens, rattan, chintz, florals, and more. If you love grandmillenial home decor, you will love this book!

As the beloved film director, Nancy Meyers, writes in the book’s foreword, this is a book that shows design lovers “how classic can look fresh, how style and comfort go hand-in-hand.”

If you already have and love it, check out the sequel, More Beautiful.

I have these popular books on my dresser and I plan on using them when we buy our next home!


Classic Style: Hand It Down, Dress It Up, Wear It Out by Kate Schelter

Best for those looking to focus their personal style

Classic Style is a book that changed my life. It’s a guide to “the classics”: the essential clothes, accessories, beauty products, and timeless everyday objects that define great design, simplicity, and timeless style — illustrated with beautiful watercolored prints.

Schelter shows you how to develop (and celebrate!) your own style by following this easy mantra: buy less, buy better, reinvent what you already have, and own your look. 

It truly inspired me to define myself as a prepster (and embrace it!) and to pare down my overstuffed and unfocused closet to find joy in simplicity and usefulness.


The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew

Best for fans of J.Crew

If you grew up in the 1990s, The Kingdom of Prep is the book for you. It begins with a spoiler: at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, J.Crew filed for bankruptcy. The book then travels back in time to explore how the company started, rose to be an iconic American symbol of prep culture, then lost its way. (To me, it never did, but I digress.)

It’s always interesting to hear a behind-the-scenes business story about a company you love, but what made this one extra special to me was how it integrated the culture of the times, particularly mall culture in the 1990s and 2000s, followed by the rise in online shopping.

I’m someone who saved my babysitting money to order even one J.Crew piece that would help me look the part in my 1990s prep school. And now, I’m someone who scours their sites (including a fast fashion outlet) for massive deals and discounts on the same exact styles, like the notorious roll-neck sweater. This book shares the why behind such consumer interactions with the brand over decades of time.


The Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach

Best for lovers of vintage prep and tongue-in-cheek humor

The Official Preppy Handbook is a real hoot! It’s an illustrated guide (with photographs too), originally published way back in 1980. It’s a very tongue-in-chic look at all things vintage “prep” from the unwritten rules of the Ivy league to must-have style and where to Summer. It both pokes fun at and pays reverence to the prep life while offering the modern reader some swoon-worthy nostalgia.

I got a real kick out of this book and always thought it would be great for an author to use as research for a related book, as it is so jam-packed with information on everything you can think of that’s so “prep.”


The Preppy Cookbook: Classic Recipes for the Modern Prep by Christine E. Nunn

Best for the new chef

The Preppy Cookbook helps you create the ultimate preppy kitchen with more than 125 recipes. From lobster rolls to the perfect pot roast, this cookbook is both witty and delicious. Foods fall into categories such as summer parties at the lake cottage, Sunday brunches, society luncheons, and bridal and baby showers. 

You will also learn about time-honored traditions and proper etiquette.


Ralph Lauren In His Own Fashion by Alan Flusser

Best for the fashion icon

Ralph Lauren: In His Own Fashion is an illustrated biography of iconic American designer Ralph Lauren. Equal parts narratives and photographs, it’s the type of book you will want to digest one page at a time (that’s how I am reading it!) 

Flusser looks back at the life and story of Ralph Lauren through the lens of both fashion and cultural impact. Perhaps no designer has exemplified preppy American style better. It’s a high-level, yet intimate, reflection on Ralph Lauren as fascinating as the man himself. 


Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits by Reese Witherspoon

Best for the lifestyle buff or fan of Southern charm

Amazon Editors’ pick

In Whiskey in a Teacup, actress Reese Witherspoon invites you into a world of the Southern-style, food, and traditions she loves — adding her own contemporary flair and charm.

Experience the joys of Southern living in beautiful imagery and advice about bluegrass, big holiday parties, fried chicken, her hot-roller technique, midnight barn parties, backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings, and rollicking honky-tonks.

This book is prep with a Southern twist. We love it — and some of the recipes in it are family favorites!


The Best Preppy Fiction Books

While the focus of this post is on the best preppy books that are non-fiction, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the best preppy books that are fiction:

Elin Hilderbrand books: The author of dozens of bestselling beach reads mostly set in the uber-exclusive island of Nantucket (Learn more about the top 10 Elin Hilderbrand books.)

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: A rosy-eyed scholarship student comes of age at boarding school

A Separate Peace by John Knowles: At a New England boys’ boarding school, Gene, a lonely intellectual befriends, Phineas, a handsome athlete, and over the course of one Summer, what happens between them shatters their innocence forever in this classic.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: Set in a New England college in the 1980s, a group of preppy students obsessed with Greek, fall into a web of darkness in this exquisitely written atmospheric thriller.


Conclusion

Those are the best preppy books in my opinion and experience as a self-proclaimed prepster.

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