Eight books on dads and for dads

These timeless stories celebrate fatherhood in all its beauty and imperfections.

As Fathers’ Day draws near, The POST has come up with a list of some of the best reads on fathers and for fathers. From historical fiction to a dystopian world, these books make excellent reads for yourself if you’re missing your dad (or the father-figure in your life), or for dad himself if he’s of the bookish kind. 

Each of these works celebrates the enduring influence that fathers have on their children—for better or worse. 

1. The Lightness by Emily Temple

Father's day gift books for dads: The Lightness Novel

A year ago, the person Olivia adores most in the world—her father—left home for a meditation retreat never to return again. Trying to make sense of that life-altering event, she decides to run away from home to retrace her dad’s steps, leading her to a place known as the Levitation Center, a sort of Buddhist boot camp for the rich.

What follows next is a thrilling reflection on female desire and friendship that fans of Donna Tartt, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Jenny Offill will devour. 

2. One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

Father's day gift books for dads: One last thing before I go

From the bestselling author of This Is Where I Leave You, this funny yet poignant novel follows forty-something Drew Silver, whose life is in the doldrums: he’s divorced and he lives alone. And have we mentioned he was once a part of a one-hit-wonder band? Drew isn’t exactly living a charmed life. 

And just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, well, they do: Drew learns that he requires emergency life-saving heart surgery. Instead of opting for the operation that could extend his life, he makes the radical decision to forgo the procedure, choosing instead to spend what little time he has left to mend his relationship with daughter Casey, become a better man, and live by the YOLO mantra.  

Can Drew find the answer to the most important question—Is his life worth saving or not?

3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Father's day gift books for dads:  Lincoln in the Bardo

The long-awaited first novel from the acclaimed author of Tenth of December is a touching father-son story featuring Abraham Lincoln, together with an equally indelible lineup of supporting characters, both living and dead, historical and imagined.

It’s February 1862. The Civil War rages on for a little less than a year. President Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. He soon passes, leaving a grief-stricken Lincoln who returns, alone, to his son’s crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

Named as one of The Atlantic’s Great American Novels of the Past 100 Years, one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, one of Time’s Ten Best Novels of the Year, and a New York Times Notable Book, Saunders enthralls readers again with his singular style and compels us to ask the question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love will end?

4. The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan

Father's day gift books for dads: The storyteller  by Pierre Jarawan

A young boy travels from the safety of his adopted home in Germany to war-torn Beirut in search of his missing father. He holds on dearly to his scant but precious guides: an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him.

This novel about family secrets, love, and friendship will tug at the heartstrings like Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Set against a backdrop of conflict and brutality, Jarawan’s masterful story is proof of the profound repercussions of migration and the importance of memories.

5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Father's day gift books for dads:  Between the World

Bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates gifts readers with a profound work that intertwines the biggest questions about American history and its relationship with race with the most intimate concerns of a father for his son.

Teeming with wisdom and heart, literary icon Toni Morrison herself tags the book as required reading, and as a “bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history.” It’s no surprise the book is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and one of the New York Times’ Best Books of the Year.

Between the World and Me exquisitely brings together personal narrative, reimagined history, and timely reportage to “offer a transcendent vision” for a much better way forward for each one of us.

6. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Father's day gift books for dads:  Thumpa Lahiri

This book needs little introduction. This dazzling novel is considered by many to be one of the best family sagas and one of the best books on the immigrant experience. Pulitzer-winning author Lahiri examines the history of a Calcutta family in America, and the inevitable conflicts that come with living between two cultures and family traditions.

Over two decades from when it was first published, The Namesake continues to captivate new (and return) readers with Lahiri’s lush prose and unforgettable characters. 

7. The Loyal Son by Daniel Mark Epstein

Father's day gift books for dads: The Loyal Son

Award-winning historian Daniel Mark Epstein puts the spotlight on one of the more mysterious aspects of Benjamin Franklin’s personal life—his complex and infamous relationship with his illegitimate son William and the tragic turn of their story during the American Revolution and how politics pulled them apart.

Epstein deftly reimagines the loving but fraught relationship between Ben and William, while shedding light on the motives that led the younger Franklin to become a leader of violent counter-revolutionary guerillas. A gripping page turner through and through. 

8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Father's day gift books for dads: the Road

Another timeless familial tale, McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning dystopian fiction follows a father and son on the road through a razed and desolate America. They walk aimlessly toward an uncertain future, armed with only a few possessions and held together only by their love for one another.

This profoundly moving story of a journey of a father and his son—”each the other’s world entire—” who are sustained by love—like so many of us are in this often cruel world.  

Associate Editor

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