There’s one thing your father (or father figure) will never get sick of receiving: books. So we suggest 16 reads for every kind of dad this Father’s Day.
For the first-time dad
Dad Jokes For New Dads by Jimmy Niro
Contrary to popular myth, new fathers are not magically bestowed with an ability to deliver cringingly corny jokes the moment their first child is placed in their arms. For some, yes, it’s a natural gift; others have to work harder on their path to dorkiness. That’s where this handy volume comes in, providing a library of starter puns and entry-level groaners for newbies to lean on until they, too, can generate such eye-rollers as: “Where do saplings learn? Elemen-tree school.”
The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Every six months, a “grandfather who is a father” returns to the country where his children – ”the son who is now a father” and “a sister who is a daughter but no longer a mother” – live, staying a few days each time in order to maintain his citizenship. The relationships have always been strained, but this particular visit is even more so for the son, on paternity leave with two tiny children while feeling increasingly distant from his labour-lawyer wife. Translated from the Swedish, this nuanced, drily hilarious novel is a sharply observed window into modern family dynamics.
Self Care For Men by Garrett Munce
The transition to fatherhood can be all-consuming – even overwhelming. When there are diapers to change and sweet potatoes to purée, suggesting a new dad spend the afternoon jade-rolling and face-masking is likely to provoke tears of exhausted laughter. Because that’s what self-care is, right? Not so, says Garrett Munce, a men’s grooming expert who’s written for GQ and Esquire. “At its core, self-care is doing stuff that makes you feel good,” he writes – which is why his practical guide includes getting a tattoo, levelling up your shave routine and even just buying a nice dish soap (because those baby bottles aren’t going to clean themselves).
For the foodie father
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
This lively volume makes the case that understanding the titular four elements and how they work together is really all you need to know to make good food. Winner of the James Beard award for best cookbook, it shows off Nosrat’s deep expertise as a seasoned (forgive the pun) food writer and chef, while empowering home cooks to fearlessly adapt and experiment in their own kitchens. Charmed by Nosrat’s warm, joyful voice? There’s a companion Netflix series that’s an utter delight in itself.
The Definitive Guide To Canadian Distilleries by Davin de Kergommeaux and Blair Phillips
Give a dad a bottle of whiskey, and he’ll drink for a month. Give him a comprehensive guide to all the distilleries across the country, and he’ll have a stocked cabinet of the country’s finest tipples for life. This “portable expert” is an insider’s entrée into Canada’s thriving spirits world (the one populated by gin, vodka and rye, not entities from the beyond) and takes readers into tasting rooms and stills from Gibsons, B.C., to Clarke’s Beach, NL. With travel off the table, at least for now, it’s also handily filled with recipes for anyone sticking closer to the home bar cart.
Gastronogeek by Thibaud Villanova and Maxime Leonard
Whether he raised you on a steady diet of Dr. Who or faithfully brought you up in the Church of Trek, the nerd in your life takes seriously his role in ensuring the fandom is strong into the next generation. Now he can bring his obsession into the kitchen with this gastronomic odyssey, created by a self-professed geek and his French-trained-chef friend. Sup on Hogwarts Stew, feast on herbed Kryptonite Eggs, gorge on Eye of Sauron chocolate-orange tarts – and celebrate the fan who made you one, too.
For the non-fiction nut
Next: Where to Live, What to Buy, and Who Will Lead Canada’s Future by Darrell Bricker
This fascinating glimpse into the future is written by Canada’s preeminent pollster, who describes his job as finding the “tragedy and romance” in big data. By parsing and interpreting large demographic shifts – declining birth rates, the migration away from small towns, the growing purchasing power of “the silver dollar” – Bricker paints an intriguing picture of what Canada might look like in 2030.
Bezonomics by Brian Dumaine
This book probably isn’t for anyone pondering the moral implications of one company seeking to infiltrate every aspect of our lives. Instead, it’s a largely flattering portrait of the man behind Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and how he grew his online bookstore into the omnipresent megasaurus that most of us interact with multiple times a day, often unknowingly. It’s also an eye-opening look into the way Bezos’s values – obsessive customer-centricity, championing of artificial intelligence, deep investments in innovation – are shaping how the rest of the world does business.
Lost In Math by Sabine Hossenfelder
“Strip away equations and technical terms and physics becomes a quest for meaning,” Hossenfelder writes in her beautiful, thought-provoking exploration of the crises facing today’s physicists. The formula for her existential anguish is this: The thinkers of her generation are too enamoured with the aesthetics of an idea – its mathematical beauty – than whether it might ever be anything more than a theoretical exercise on a chalkboard. Don’t worry if your (or your dad’s) grasp of string theory is shaky and you can’t tell a wormhole from a black hole. This is an accessible and engaging read about the state of modern-day science.
For the memoir lover
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Before he hosted The Daily Show, before he toured the world as a comic, Trevor Noah was “born a crime” in South Africa – the child of a white father and a Black mother, a union that carried a five-year prison term under Apartheid. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Noah’s memoir paints a vivid picture of growing up in an oppressive system that never intended for someone like him to exist. If your dad’s an audiobook guy, it’s read by Noah himself.
Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other by Ken Dryden
The titular “Scotty” is Scott Bowman, the winningest coach in hockey, who led his players to the most Stanley Cups in history. He was also one of the most influential people in Dryden’s career as a Hall of Fame goalie – which is why, out of all his books, Dryden says this is the one he “needed to write.” Written in collaboration with his subject, it’s the warm, sometimes moving account of Scotty’s life in the game.
Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett
Jollett was born into Synanon, a violent cult that separated babies from their parents in the name of making them “children of the universe.” That might be what initially draws you into this captivating memoir. But the trauma of those years is only one thread in Jollett’s complicated journey to adulthood, where he wrestles with loving his charismatic, motorcycle-riding father and desperately wants to run away from the legacy of Jollett men, who seem to be caught in an endless cycle of self-destruction. It’s a delicate, lyrical meditation on family inheritances of a different sort.
The New One by Mike Birbiglia
The book’s subtitle, “Painfully true stories from a reluctant dad,” pretty much says it all. Birbiglia devotes seven honest and raw chapters to why having a child would be a terrible, terrible idea for him. He worries about what it will do to his marriage and how being a touring comic feels inherently incompatible with being a good dad. All the agonizing serves as an introduction to what is ultimately a highly relatable, unvarnished account of fatherhood. It’s tender, slightly transgressive – and very, very funny.
For the great escapist
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Calling Winter Canada’s answer to George R.R. Martin is both fair – he’s easily as talented – and a complete injustice to the utterly original work he’s doing in the fantasy genre. From the first page, the reader is thrown into a vividly drawn, instantly gripping saga: a people caught in a futile war, a young man determined to chart his own course in a society that sees him as expendable. You’re set for Christmas too: The Fires of Vengeance, the second book Winter’s The Burning series, drops late this year.
If It Bleeds by Stephen King
If the horror lover in your family has managed to recover from the ghastly goodness of The Institute, consider the scare master’s new collection of four novellas, which will have readers jumping at shadows again in no time. Alternately, this collection is an excellent introduction to King’s writing, particularly for anyone who doesn’t currently have the attention span for, say, 823 pages of The Stand (incidentally about a terrifying pandemic). Expertly crafted and reliably creepy, each of these long-ish short stories will discomfit you in its own special way – though Rat, featuring a talking rodent, is the most deliciously weird of the bunch.
The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey
For anyone hankering for a new season of Black Mirror (or looking for an it-could-be-worse escape from our current plight), this gripping novel is an essential read. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has regressed far back from the age of smart speakers and facial recognition, the tale is narrated by Koli, born into a society where people live in small, guarded settlements and the remaining tech is reserved for a powerful elite. It’s both a meditation on society’s obsession with progress and just a super-compelling story. Oh, and don’t mind the cliffhanger ending: It’s the first in a trilogy we can’t wait to read.
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