Frankly, the usual literary offering specifically aimed at Dads for Father’s Day is confined to books about cars, old planes or antiquated rifles. Or all of those together somehow. We don’t think this is fair on Dads, so we’ve come up with some actually interesting Dad books that will intrigue and enchant. And just so you know, we were very, very close to calling this list ‘Different Strokes for Different Blokes’.
Brown Baby, by Nikesh Shukla
A chronicle of modern fatherhood, charged by societal inequalities, racism and the deep observational experiences of walking a baby to sleep in the early hours of the morning, Shukla’s memoir is stunningly good at balance: he is angry but warm, irritable but supportive, addicted to his phone but unstoppably in the moment. Brown Baby is a love-letter to his own daughter and to his own mother, and the joys and griefs associated. Rich, funny and connected.
Wrestliana, by Toby Litt
Toby Litt is a descendent of William Litt – Cumberland and Westmoreland wrestling pioneer, man of letters, possible smuggler and all-round beefcake. Wrestliana is the hugely involving and entertaining attempt by the younger Litt to categorise and contextualise the older, a document that tackles masculinity in all its forms, asks what we think of when think of our dads, and at one point gets rather too physical in a village hall.
Tower, by Bae Myung-Hoon
Tower: Bae Myung-Hoon£10.99
Tower ticks all the thinking-dad boxes: a collection of interconnected science fiction short stories, translated from Korean, all set in the fictional sovereign nation of Beanstalk, a 700-storey mega-skyscraper. It is slapstick, and farcical, and really funny but comes with a good dollop of political commentary. Perfecto!
Monolithic Undertow, by Harry Sword
Does your dad reminisce about listening to deeply heavy and cosmic music in his youth? Monolithic Undertow will have him reaching for the expensive headphones and the easy chair (if he ever left it), a history and celebration of all things drone-related, from the subterranean rumblings in below-ground churches to the days-long ‘happenings’ of the New York scene, right up to the punishing, face-melting assault of the modern drone scene.
The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker
Dads are the ultimate pedants, and we guarantee every dad will find a little bit of themselves in the narrator of this heavily footnoted novelette that hilariously chronicles a single lunch hour: including bonus digressions on staplers, shoelaces, milk spout design and communal toilet etiquette.
A Little Devil In America, by Hanif Abdurraqib
The poet and essayist is fairly peerless when it comes to topics of race and culture in modern America, but where this collection of essays shines brightest is when Abdurraqib’s unbidden enthusiasm for this subjects comes through: so that means Lando Calrissian, the recorded output of Whitney Houston and the power of a good game of spades. Indispensible, angry when necessary, brutally entertaining.
Dreyer’s English, by Benjamin Dreyer
An obscenely satisfying book of absolute grammatical and verbal correctness that will make your dad feel even more vindicated when he tells you for the ten thousandth time that it’s FEWER, not LESS.
Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan
Washington Black is a textbook banger. An action-packed, continent-spanning novel about two unlikely companions that perfectly balances big themes with rip-roaring adventure.
Notes From An Apocalypse, by Mark O’Connell
Dryly humorous and compelling humane dispatches from the people who are trying to safeguard themselves from the end of the world, from doomsday preppers to tech billionaires buying up huge chunks of New Zealand to ride out the apocalypse in comfort.
Papa Penguin, by Lindsay Camp & Momoko Abe
Papa Penguin: Lindsay Camp£12.99
Hey, we know that kids like to buy their dads a book too, and this is a recent favourite – a beautifully illustrated and lyrically written bedtime story that will teach you a lot about both dads AND penguins, which is always a bonus.