Father’s Day is that special day to recognize those who helped raise us into who we are today. While relationships with our fathers can be some of the most complicated, they can also be examples of the deepest and most authentic love out there. We know, it’s stressful to find a present that says “I love you” and “thanks for being my dad.” We also know that books never fail as the perfect present for your pa!
The next step is finding the book. Here are 8 books that are perfect gifts for the upcoming holiday:
1. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Although he was never a father himself, Baldwin shares paternal advice with his nephew throughout The Fire Next Time. He describes the adversity his nephew will face growing up black in the United States, sharing examples from his own childhood in Harlem. The beautifully written essays examine the power of having an influential role model and how our lives are shaped by individuals every day.
2. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel details the experience of a mole in the Vietnamese army who immigrates to America. While the root of the narrative examines war and loyalty, it also has an emphasis on family and identity, something that the main character struggles with throughout the novel.
3. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Paul Beatty became the first American to win the Man Booker prize for Fiction with his satirical novel The Sellout. The novel uses satire to examine some of the most difficult topics, including race and racial identity in America. While a difficult read, there’s no doubt dad will appreciate this book.
4. Patrimony by Philip Roth
In his memoir, Philip Roth tells the story of the life and death of his father who is dying of a benign brain tumor. The NY Times perfectly described it as “the agonized, sometimes comic labor of a family and a dying parent who must deal with all the loyalties and grudges of their past while coping with their transformed future.” Beautiful yet tragic, Roth’s memoir is a must-read for any dad.
5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Another Pulitzer Prize winner, Gilead explores four generations of men. The protagonist, John Ames, recounts the story of his father and grandfather’s lives in order to eventually share those stories with his son. The novel looks specifically at different faith backgrounds, painting a new portrait of Christianity and Calvinism in modern-day America.
6. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Another family-oriented book, Hillbilly Elegy looks at a family shaped by poverty in the United States. Released during the 2016 election season, Vance’s book explores the disappearing middle class and the traits that are particular to those families that grow up poor. He looks at his own relationship with his parents and grandparents, as well as their relationships with one another, and what may have led us to the political moment in which we find ourselves.
7. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
After losing his wife to cancer, Ove finds no point in living. Every time he tries to kill himself, however, he flashes back to an earlier time in his life, remembering first the death of his mother and then his father. While his life has been filled with tragedy, Ove finds a support system in his new neighbors who bring meaning to his life.
8. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
This unique autobiography (in the form of a graphic novel) explores some of the most difficult topics out there. Bechdel looks at gender roles, sexual orientation, and dysfunctional family life, all by using graphics to compliment her words. The focus is on her father, and shows the complicated role he played in her life–both positive and negative. A perfect depiction of the intricacies of every family, if your father likes the visual, he’ll love this memoir.
9. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Similar to Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Coates addresses his own son in Between the World and Me. The essay serves as a portrayal of race relations in modern America and as a warning for Coates’s son of the future he can expect. The novel is heartbreaking and a wake up call for all Americans, but it is also empowering and comes from one of the deepest and most genuine places: a father’s love for his child.
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