Happy Father’s Day: Great Reads About Dads

Posted by Aaron on

“That is the thankless position of the father in the family – the provider for all, and the enemy of all.” – So said Swedish writer and painter August Strindberg, and I think in many cases he’s hit the nail on the head. Somehow it is usually easy to rain appreciation on our moms but perhaps not so easy with our dads. Especially for those of us with fathers from a slightly older generation; one that predates the modern, seemingly less austere dad.

Even Mother’s Day is celebrated first and Father’s Day the next month, as if an afterthought. Happily, many authors have immortalized fathers, stepfathers, fathers-in-law… you get the idea… through their books. So, in honor of Father’s Day this year (on June 19th) let’s take some time to appreciate the first man in our lives: Dad.

Understanding Dad

There is so much great non-fiction out there about fathers. I love the range of approaches authors have taken in relating to dad within their family, their lives, themselves. For example, Huddle: Fathers, Sons, and Football by Andrew H. Malcolm, is the story of three generations of a family touched by their involvement with football. Whereas The Souvenir, by Louise Steinman, is a daughter’s tale of her father’s experiences during WWII, told as she researches a silk Japanese flag she finds among her parents’ things.

These books share a quest by children to understand their fathers better. On a larger scale, books such as Do Fathers Matter? by Paul Raeburn do the same thing. Raeburn explores and debunks myths about fatherhood through the latest scientific research. Similarly, Our Fathers, Ourselves by Dr. Peggy Drexler intimately examines how the father-daughter bond impacts women. The Father-Daughter Dance by Barbara Goulter and Joan Minninger, PH.D., explores six patterns of “dances,” or interactions, between fathers and daughters and how these dances shape our lives.

Sometimes, the exploration of a father comes with the father striving to better understand his children. Buzz Bissinger, who you may recognize as the author of Friday Night Lights, penned Father’s Day: A Journey Into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son. Bissinger has twin sons, one of whom has special needs. The book chronicles father and son’s shared road trip from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. The journey is revelatory for Bissinger, both for what he learns of his son and for what he discovers about himself.

Father Fix-It  

Sometimes, a father’s understanding of his bond with his children comes through the act of helping them. In The Horse Boy, by Rupert Isaacson, the author is devastated by his son Rowan’s diagnosis of autism. Isaacson, a horseman, desperately wants to share his own love of horses with his son but wonders if this will ever be possible. He finds that it is possible, though, the day Rowan connects with a horse named Betsy. From that day, Isaacson is determined to help his son, and possibly others, through the healing power of horses.

Thomas Chatterton Williams is the author of Losing My Cool, in which he talks about how he spent his childhood conflicted between the draw of his local hip-hop culture and the expectations of his father, who tutors him through SAT preparations. In this tale of a helping father told from the son’s perspective, Williams portrays the allure of hip-hop culture against the more traditional dreams his father had for him.

Famous Fathers 

Tim Russert, author of Big Russ & Me about his own father, penned a follow-up book containing many letters from sons and daughters about their fathers. This touching book, The Wisdom of Our Fathers, holds gratitude, lessons, memories, and stories about fathers from their children.

Willie Geist and his father, Bill Geist, wrote Good Talk, Dad: The Birds, the Bees and Other Conversations We Forgot to Have, together. This humorous book tells the story of their relationship through witty, albeit belated, conversations about all the things they never got around to discussing.

In A Father First, NBA star Dwayne Wade talks about being a single father to his two sons and how his life became “bigger than basketball”.

Something for Everyone (and their Dad)

In Two Kisses for Maddy, Matthew Logelin tells of the difficult first year following the birth of his daughter and loss of his wife.

Pulitzer prize winning author Rick Bragg was inspired by the relationship he has with his own stepson to explore the truth about the father he never knew. In The Prince of Frogtown, Bragg seeks to uncover the influences that absent relationship had on his life and choices.

So, as you can see, we have enough patriarchal prose to go around. Plus, check out our wonderful display of fatherly fiction, which will be up through June 20th. Either way, come in and pick up a book for yourself, and maybe one for your dad.

~ Amanda, reference librarian, Warrenton central library

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