Giving books as gifts is always a little tricky, especially for Father’s Day. You’ve got to find a book your dad will enjoy, and you want to make sure the book feels like a gift and not an obligation.
I follow two rules when gifting books. First, they have to either be quick reads or easy to put down and pick back up. That’s why I love to gift short story collections, essay collections, and novellas. Second, I try give books with a light-hearted tone even if it’s dealing with a serious topic. I love reading serious books about tough topics, but I think that’s something you should chose to dive into for yourself rather than giving out as a gift.
If you’re thinking about giving your dad books for Father’s Day this year, here are a few options that I think will be a hit.
If your dad loves all things Star Wars…
This book has everything: Jawas, Tusken raiders, emperial MSE-6 bots, and every character who happens to be in a cantina on Tatooine one fateful day. If you’ve ever wondered what the life of a trash compacter monster looks like, wonder no more. From a Certain Point of View is a collection of short stories from a variety of authors that take place during the same timeline as Star Wars: A New Hope, and it leaves no side character unexplored.
It’s the perfect book for lovers of Star Wars, and if it’s a hit, From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back will be a great follow up gift for next year.
If your dad watches the History Channel…
There used to be a show on the History Channel called How the States Got Their Shapes. It talked about the history of the U.S. and specifically the historical and political facts that lead to the shape of each state. An Atlas of Extinct Countries by Gideon Defoe reminded me of that show.
Defoe has a series of short essays talking about the formation and then dissolution of countries that don’t exist. Some countries only existed because a scammer claimed they did. Some countries existed because no one noticed them for a while. And some countries were the effect of colonialism.
Regardless of the reason, Defoe brings humor to what could be a difficult topic, and creates a fun and engaging read.
If your dad is a doctor (or just watches so many medical dramas that he thinks he is)…
Whether your dad’s interest in medicine comes from his career or from watching too many medical dramas The Sawbones Book by Justin McElroy and Dr. Sydney McElroy is a fantastic pick.
This is the book form of the McElroy’s podcast, Sawbones, and it allows them to go into even more detail into the medical practices of history. The history of medicine can frequently be horrifying, but the McElroys manage to keep the difficult topics entertaining.
If your dad had to teach you how to do multiplication in elementary school…
We all need things explained to us some of the time. If you want to tell your dad thanks for explaining things to me when I was a little kid (and maybe even now), give him a copy of Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe.
Munroe breaks down complicated concepts and technology (like space ships) into simple explanations anyone can understand. From ISS to microwaves, Munroe explains it all using the simplest words in English. It’s perhaps a bit more humorous than informative, but that description is not dissimilar to my experience of doing multiplication practice with my dad during breakfast when I was in elementary school.
If your dad can’t get enough westerns…
If John Wayne frequents your dad’s television, this recommendation is for you. Too many traditional westerns paint a simplistic picture of who cowboys were and the type of life they lived. Aloha Rodeo by David Wolman and Julian Smith broadens that picture.
Wolman and Smith share the true story of three Hawaiian cowboys who competed in the rodeo in 1908. It looks at the history of cowboys in Hawaii and expands the idea of who–and where– a cowboy can be.
If your dad loves Expedition Unknown…
Four Lost Cities by Annalee Newitz is my recommendation for dads fascinated by the mysteries of the world. Newitz explores 4 historical cities lost to time, disaster, and change. But despite misconceptions, Newitz shows that none were ever really “lost.”
Four Lost Cities features interesting archeological explorations & history of Neolithic and ancient cities I knew little about. It’s also a prescient warning about how climate change can lead to a city’s demise.
What other books have you given for Father’s day in that past? Let us know in the comments or on social media.