He has enough ties. He never uses the tools. How many Dwight Shrute bobbleheads can a guy really use? Just because he can zone in front of the TV for all nine innings doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to use his brain. Here are five great books for dad, ranging from emotionally uplifting, to incisive and funny, to zany and poignant, to inspiring and good old bone-chilling.
Zany and poignant: Quiet Chaos, by Sandro Veronesi
An Italian business executive rescues a drowning woman, then returns home to discover that, while he was saving a stranger, his own wife suddenly died. Now he turns his attention to his 9-year-old daughter. As an international merger of his company is underway, he goes AWOL from work, instead committing himself to a simple and, in his mind, completely rational existence: standing in front of his daughter’s school, all day, every day.
Read my complete review of Quiet Chaos here.
Emotionally uplifting: Kayak Morning, by Roger Rosenblatt
. Like the best long-form essays, Kayak Morning is deeply associative, meandering from subject to subject, from esoteric fact to watery remembrance. The book is shot through with meditations on water, solitude, Quogue, and kayaking, as well as surprising revelations (Rosenblatt interviewed several presidents; among them was Nixon, who remarked that Rosenblatt’s tape recorder was “better” than the old tape recorders). Kayak Morning, like Making Toast before it, draws its weight and its beauty, its utterly crystallized emotions and startling sensitivity, from grief. The death of Rosenblatt’s daughter is on every page, it colors everything. His daughter died before him, his daughter whom he remembers with such specificity as his little girl, and he cannot get over it. What father could? What parent could? The book comes from a place no parent wants to go.
Read my complete review of Kayak morning here.
Incisive and funny
Manhood for Amateurs, by Michael Chabon
Whether reflecting on his role as son, brother, husband, or father, Chabon’s delightful essays are provocative and insightful. This wide-ranging collection touches on everything from becoming a father to losing a father-in-law (through divorce); from musings on a quirky childhood to a discussion of what society considers to be a “good father” today. ~AudioRile
Inspiring: Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell, author and journalist, sets out to provide an understanding of success using outliers, men and women with skills, talent, and drive who do things out of the ordinary. He contends that we must look beyond the merits of a successful individual to understand his culture, where he comes from, his friends and family, and the community values he inherits and shares. ~Booklist
Bone-chilling: Arctic Chill, by Arnaldur Indridason
I’m completely addicted to this series of thrillers set in Reykjavik. The fifth in the series, this one focuses on the murder of an Asian boy. Police detective Erlendur Sveinsson is a father and grandfather, whose tenuous relationship with his grown children colors every aspect of his life. The boy’s death also serves as a commentary on modern Iceland. You’ll love these books for the mystery, and keep coming back for the flawed, thoughtful, and deeply sympathetic main character.