9 books to give your dad this Father’s Day

I didn’t intend to write a post about books for dads … but then I stumbled upon a title that would be perfect for my own father, and then another one. I started talking with book-loving friends about what books they might give their own fathers, and what those fathers’ reading habits were like.

And well, here we are, carried on by (another) tide of bookish enthusiasm.

Your dad probably has too many books already. But then again, you probably do, too—and isn’t it a wonderful problem to have?

Only you can know what your father or father-figure will love. Maybe he’s hooked on Jane Austen, or Outlander. These titles are geared towards readers who often read business nonfiction, appreciate sports and adventure, and always love an interesting read—whether it’s about finance, football, or murder.

9 books to give your dad this Father’s Day

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

When Chile's San Jose mine collapsed in August 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock for 69 days—longer than anyone thought they could survive. While they were still trapped in the mine, the men agreed that if they told their story, they would only do it together. On their release, they entrusted Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tobar with its telling. More info →
My Year of Running Dangerously

My Year of Running Dangerously

I'm intrigued by this father-daughter story because the ratings are about as good as they get. From the publisher: "As a journalist whose career spans three decades, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman has reported from the heart of war zones, riots, and natural disasters. He has interviewed serial killers and been in the line of fire. But the most terrifying moment of his life didn't occur on the job - it occurred at home, when his 18-year-old daughter asked, "How would you feel about running a marathon with me?" I keep hearing the audiobook is fantastic. More info →
Fields of Battle: Pearl Harbor, the Rose Bowl, and the Boys Who Went to War

Fields of Battle: Pearl Harbor, the Rose Bowl, and the Boys Who Went to War

For your hard-to-shop-for Dad or father-in-law who only wants to read about history and football: a nonfiction book about a largely forgotten slice of football—and American—history. Serious football fans know the 1942 Rose Bowl was played in North Carolina, out of fear for a reprise of Japanese attacks on the West Coast following Pearl Harbor. In this nonfiction account, Curtis digs into the lives of the boys who played in the game, and then went on to fight in WWII. In the vein of Unbroken. More info →
The Dry

The Dry

"You lied. Luke lied. Be at the funeral." Federal Agent Aaron Falk is summoned home with these words after his best friend Luke dies in a heartbreaking murder-suicide, turning the gun on himself after killing his wife and 6-year-old son. Falk obeys—but he can't believe his best friend could have done such a thing, and so he starts digging, dragging long-buried secrets back to the surface. The setting is the drought-ravaged Australian Outback, and the brittleness and heat are almost palpable. More info →
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

This is one of the 7 books I wish I could download into my brain. The author, a former hostage negotiator for the FBI, recounts fascinating workplace tales, of course: he specialized in negotiating international kidnappings, and those did NOT play out like I expected. But I was also impressed at how he took those principles and applied them to everyday life—like negotiating a salary, or buying a house, or having normal, everyday conversations with your kids. (You may be glad your dad didn't have the inside scoop on how to negotiate with a teenager back when YOU were a kid.) More info →
Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud

Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud

This book has my dad written all over it. Fiscal Times columnist Dayen's meticulous reporting follows three Florida citizens who faced foreclosure actions on their homes, brought by banks who didn't own the underlying loans. If you loved The Big Short, this well-told, accessible work about the home mortgage scandal is a must-read. More info →
Trophy Son

Trophy Son

This is the third novel from Brunt; reviews have politely declined to mention he's married to Megyn Kelly, but the marketers have no such reservations. Imagine Andre Agassi's Open meets Lauren Weisberger's The Singles Game. Anton Stratis isn't good at anything but tennis; his parents, both Olympic athletes, are just fine with that. This coming-of-age story tracks his life on the court from his youth, and his rise to the top, all while under his father's oppressive thumb. More info →
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Years before Trump was a presidential candidate, Berkley sociologist Arlie Hochschild decided she wanted to better understand the political divide in this country. So she left her liberal California home and traveled into the heart of Tea Party territory. This wouldn't be a book if she wasn't surprised by what she found. This isn't a perfect book (as in, the author occasionally lapses into stereotypes about some political viewpoints and the people who hold them), but it's a good one, and extremely timely. More info →
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest while on assignment for Outside Magazine in 1996, which would become the deadliest year in the history of the mountain. 8 people died on the mountain the day Krakauer himself summited; 15 died that season. Krakauer made it back down to tell the tale of what it was like on the mountain that May. Of note: known for his journalistic integrity, Krakauer has revised his story over the years as new information has come to light about the disaster. A first-class adventure story. More info →

What would you add to the list?

9 books to give your dad this Father's Day


Leave A Comment
  1. Lori says:

    I’m famous in our family for buying things for my husband that *I* actually want (he’s impossible to buy for – returns/doesn’t use most gifts, just goes ahead and researches/buys his own goodies) – so I think I’ll get him, I mean us, The Dry.

  2. Rachel says:

    A couole years ago I gave my dad The World’s Largest Man by Harrison Scott Key. Great for any southern dad, especially if they’ve spent any time in Mississippi. We both loved this one.

  3. Julie says:

    I would add ‘Jayber Crow’ (Wendell Berry) to this list… got it for my father, father-in-law, and husband for Christmas… they ALL loved it 🙂

  4. Michelle says:

    Several years ago I picked up Killer Angels and Gods and Generals for my dad. And then I borrowed them:)

  5. Mary Lou says:

    Fields of Battle looks like a great pick for my husband, especially since our daughter attends Duke University; Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke was the site of the 1942 Rose Bowl.

    • BJ says:

      I bought Fields of Battle for my brother-in-law for Christmas on the strength of someone mentioning it either here on the blog or in the book club forums. He blew through it in 2 days and loved it! It had all the check points for him, close to home – we live in Greenville, NC; sports – he’s a huge fan; and war stories. It was a perfect pick for him. He’s talked so much about it that I may have to read it!

  6. Mary Jane Lundholm says:

    My husband reads a lot of crime/mystery/suspense, so I got him the new Grisham, Turow, and Lehane books. I know he’ll like them!
    For anyone who has not read “The Boys In The Boat”, I think many men would really enjoy this story of an unknown crew team and their determination to reach the Olympics. Non fiction of the best kind!

  7. J-walk says:

    MANHOOD RESTORED by Eric Mason and LOVE DOES by Bob Goff — enlightening, entertaining and memorable books. Bob Goff’s personal stories guarantee belly laughing! These are titles that get read more than once.

  8. Stacey says:

    I got my dad two sports-related novels for his recent birthday – The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder. He never read much when I was growing up, but he’s a thoughtful guy and has recently retired, so thought I’d encourage him to take up reading as a new hobby! He enjoyed both.

  9. Karen Floyd Shepherd says:

    I think myhusband might like “Fields of Battle.” It sounds like a different perspective on WWII, and it’s getting harder and harder to find WWII books he hasn’t already read. He also might like “Year of Running Dangerously” as he is a former runner and has run several marathons. Our daughter ran 5k’s with him when she was young.

  10. Carey says:

    The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. It’s a memoir of a kid growing up in Des Moines in the 1950s. Sounds boring, but think again – the author is Bill Bryson. It’s been a long, long time since I have actually guffawed while reading. The chapter on sex and his walking in on his parents could stand alone.

  11. sonrie says:

    I would add Letters to My Son by Kent Nerburn. And one of Christopher McDougall’s books. And Molina: The Story of the Father who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty by Bengie Molina.

  12. Jennifer O. says:

    In the past I’ve given my dad non-fiction and history, mostly, like Unbroken, The Boys in the Boat, and The Worst Hard Time (about the Depression and Dust Bowl). I gave my mom Hillbilly Elegy for Christmas but it was also kinda for him. He doesn’t have a lot of time to read – in addition to working and volunteering he’s taking class to become a deacon, so that takes up a lot of his reading time – but I still get him books. A good book will always be welcome!

  13. Allison says:

    I’ll be gifting my husband Unbroken. He’s not a big reader, but he seemed interested when I told him about it. I’m hoping it’s one he will actually finish!

  14. Melanie says:

    One of my favorite fictional dads is Jeremiah Land in Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. This is a quietly powerful story. I have given this book to my husband and others and it has never let me down.
    I am planning to read The Dry and am adding the Rose Bowl book to the beach reading list for my high school sons. I love the MMD lists!

  15. Texastara says:

    I have given my dad, husband, and father-in-law The Last Days of Night (historical fiction), I Am Pilgrim (great spy thriller), and The Martian and they have all loved them (and I did too).

  16. D says:

    My FIL is into Clive Cussler, so that’s easy. By MY dad is harder. I’ve had wins with The Martian and Sully (he’s an engineer and loves books that he can geek out with).

  17. Heatherlima says:

    I guess I finally found my niche – father lit! Every single one of these books sounds fascinating to me. Into Thin Air is one of my all time favorites.

  18. Thanks for these ideas, Anne! One book that I loved and then gave to my Dad and HE loved (and we don’t have similar reading tastes in the least) was Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir “Wait Till Next Year” about growing up in the NYC in the postwar era in a family that LOVED baseball – specifically, the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s sweet and funny and touching and about baseball. Also, it might be the only book both my Dad and I loved equally which was a super win last Father’s Day. <3

  19. Lady Carmichael says:

    Bless you for this timely list! My dad is so difficult to buy for but he reads, runs marathons, and has four daughters….you’ve suggested the perfect gift in My Year of Running Dangerously! Thank you!

  20. Jamie says:

    For anyone who grew up loving and learning baseball with their dad (especially if you are one of his little girls!), I’d strongly recommend Wait Til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I just finished this book last week and it has all the feels, all the nostalgia, and all the baseball. So good. I’m definitely going to either buy or recommend it to/for my dad.

  21. This is such a great list! I’m downloading Year of Running Dangerously right now for myself – sounds fantastic! I read Trophy Son and absolutely loved it – great Dad pick! And Strangers in their Own Land is on my TBR.
    I’d add The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, Grit by Angela Duckworth, and Originals by Adam Grant.

  22. This is such a great list for Dads, who are in my mind always a little hard to buy for! Another book I’s add is Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. It’s about a group of soldiers over a few months of the Vietnam war. Hard to put down!

  23. I’ve seen a lot of the ones I was thinking already recommended: The Boys on the Boat (gave it to my dad for his birthday and he LOVED it!) and The Worst Hard Time.

    But, one I would add is: The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Such an amazing father/daughter story.

  24. Kay B says:

    I’d add The Wave, by Susan Casey. It’s a mix of a story that focuses on big wave surfing, Laird Hamilton and weather.

  25. Kristen says:

    I giggled at your line about a dad being hooked on Outlander, because funnily enough, my dad is the one that got me into it! He listens to a ton of audiobooks because his jobs involve a lot of driving, downloaded Outlander because of it’s action & history, and got hooked before he realized the heavy romance influence. You definitely can’t stereotype Father Day’s gifts for him!

  26. Karen Allen says:

    One series my husband (& I) love is Craig Johnson’s Longmire series. Friends got us started on the TV series, but we’ve found the books great to read as well. There are stories that ring familiar, but just when you think “I saw this one in an episode”, the plot takes a twist and someone else is guilty! (In other words, you can watch the show AND read the books with few spoilers.)
    And just to be clear, we are not country folk. (We suffered worse culture shock during our years in a village in central Illinois where my husband went for seminary than we did while living in Beirut, Lebanon!) And we have enjoyed these so much. (My husband gets the new ones from the library before I do!)

  27. barbara says:

    A Man Called One by Frederik Bachman. Sadly, my father is no longer on this plane, but he loved Swedish literature and Fiction. And read Swedish. The curmudgeonly book would have been appropriate for his dark, sardonic humor. And other similar Fathers out there.

    • Gail Lind says:

      I think you mean a “A Man Called Ove”. I stayed up last night and read it through. A great book,although I don’t think my husband would like it.

  28. Kelli says:

    Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is a great and fascinating insight of the plight of collegiate athletics during the Great Depression. A must read for reading and non-reading dads alike.

  29. Tamara says:

    My husband is Brian Curtis, is the author of one of the books on this list: Fields of Battle. A friend of mine excitedly sent this to me and I am so thrilled you included his book for Father’s Day. I hope many of your reader’s dads, brothers, uncles and sons will enjoy reading it. Surprisingly, (or maybe not) he has been invited to several women’s book clubs who’ve read it and enjoyed it as much as men have.
    These “boys” very much became a part of our family as my husband researched and wrote for over three years, in order to most accurately tell their history. I hope you enjoy their stories and remember them. Thank you again!

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