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The phrase “dad book” may bring to mind any number of 500-plus-page World War II history tomes, but true dad lit is of course as varied as the many kinds of dads out there. Is he an environmentalist dad who emails you the latest on climate change every week? Did he start watching My Brilliant Friend with you in quarantine and now has late-onset Ferrante fever? Does he go straight for the poetry section at the bookstore? To find the best books to give this Father’s Day (and one he probably doesn’t already have), we perused the fiction and nonfiction releases from the past year, and found a book for many multitudes of dad.
For the dad who loves a coming-of-age story
Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City tells the story of a young man who leaves home in the Nigerian countryside and travels to an unnamed city (some have said it reads as similar to Laos) to become a crime reporter and dance band leader.
For the dad who can’t get enough WWII history
From Erik Larson, author of noted dad book The Devil in the White City, this book looks to diaries, archival documents, and some recently released intelligence reports to describe what daily life was like for Churchill and his family as he led the British during World War II.
For the dad who emails you every Masha Gessen article
If he was the first person to send you “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” in 2016, he’ll appreciate Gessen’s new book, which looks closely at the past three years of life under Trump.
For the dad who downloaded Signal before you did
This surreal novel by Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa is a fable about state surveillance, and chronicles life on an island under the control of the “Memory Police,” who ensure that when objects and ideas are lost, they remain forgotten.
For the dad who’s your museum buddy
Whether or not he made it to the Jordan Casteel show at the New Museum this past spring, he’ll appreciate the corresponding exhibition catalogue, which collects 40 of the artist’s moving portraits, including those of her students and former classmates from Yale, subway riders, and street vendors in Harlem.
For the dad who “loves Judd”
This book collects 60 interviews with the artist over a four-decade period, and covers everything from politics and philosophy to Judd’s thoughts on artists including Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, and Yayoi Kusama (and you can send him our guide to building Judd-esque furniture as companion reading).
For the dad who believes he was born in the wrong century
He’ll appreciate this diary by 20-century Italian writer Curzio Malaparte, who writes about traveling through postwar Europe and mingling with Jean Cocteau and Albert Camus.
For the dad who loves a New York novel
Set in 1969 in a housing project in south Brooklyn, this novel chronicles the ramifications after a church deacon known as Sportcoat shoots a drug dealer, and how the event affects the neighbors, churchgoers, police, and the Italian mob.
For the dad who likes a book you can write in
For the dad who’s been protesting
Ibram X. Kendi’s book was on our anti-racist reading list (and has been recommended by many, many others, including booksellers at the Lit Bar Bookshop in the Bronx and Mahogany Books in Washington, D.C.). It weaves together the historian and New York Times best-selling author’s personal experiences with history, ethics, law, and science to show readers how they can contribute to the creation of an equitable society.
For the dad who recently got into My Brilliant Friend
This novel, set in rural southern Tuscany, follows a decade-long feud between two families, one of local ranchers and the other a cosmopolitan family from Rome.
For the dad who’s thinking about identity
Strategist writer Lauren Ro included Cathy Park Hong’s new book, which combines memoir and criticism, in her haul last month, and wrote that she’s “been tearing through Minor Feelings, which is quite readable for a book that tackles difficult subject matter (race, identity, and feelings of shame around those two things).”
For the dad who goes straight to the poetry section
When we talked to Miriam Chotiner-Gardner, a bookseller at Three Lives & Co., she told us that Reginald Dwayne Betts’s poetry collection Felon has been selling particularly well. The poems describe the effects of incarceration on all aspects of life, and are written in post-traditional and contemporary forms of poetry.
For the environmentalist dad
Our New York Magazine colleague David Wallace-Wells’s book on climate change has been called an “epoch-defining book,” and would make an ideal book for the dad who calls warm winter weather “ominous” and wants to learn more about how global warming affects politics, technology, and nature.
For the dad who loves baseball
He’ll love this book about the Mets’ legendary 1969 season, written 50 years later by sports journalist Wayne Coffey (bonus points if he’s a Mets fan, of course).
For the dad who cooks
Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee won the James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and collects over 100 recipes from black chefs and cooks spanning the last 200 years. [Editor’s note: Jubilee will be restocked on June 16, and still arrive in time for Father’s Day.]
For the dad who’s into comics
If your dad is a graphic-novel fan, he’ll be intrigued by this new book by French cartoonist Blutch, which depicts the artist’s impressions of America’s celebrities, fashion, and history.
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