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The 10 best books for every type of dad — and they arrive in time for Father's Day

Updated ·10 min read
James Patterson by James Patterson, The Big Book of Bourbon Cocktails, The Life and Legend of an American Original, Rickey
There's a book for every type of dad. (Photo: Amazon)

Father's Day is nearly upon us, and with it that yearly self-torturing ordeal: Uggh — what do I get him? It's not like there aren't plenty of choices out there; it's just that most of them are lame, obvious or send the message that you put little or no thought into them.

Here's why books are the perfect Dad's Day gift. 1) The wealth of choice out there makes it easy to be (or at least appear) insightful in your gift recipient's eyes. 2) They're inherently positive and healthy — i.e., you're giving the old man something that'll exercise the mind and get him away from the TV. 3) They give him a reason/excuse to go off and be by himself for a good long time — every man's favorite thing!

With all that in mind, here's a grab-bag of interesting, diverting and just plain fun volumes for the paterfamilias in your life.

Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle, by Jody Rosen

Two Wheels Good
Bone shakers and velocipedes and hybrids, oh my! (Photo: Amazon)

One might call this a perfect book. It's informative (the "History" of its title), intriguing (the "Mystery") and has the potential to transform the way you think — not just about bikes, but transportation, fitness, even society at large. Rosen is a thorough researcher and deep thinker who may inspire Dad so much that he'll be dying to put this down so he can go out for a ride. Oh, the irony.

$24 at Amazon

The 125 Best Brain Teasers of All Time: A Mind-Blowing Challenge of Math, Logic, and Wordplay, by Marcel Danesi, Ph.D

125 Best Brain Teasers
Because it's important to keep Dad's brain sharp...at least until he gets that will written. (Photo: Amazon)

Nothing keeps the brain healthy like active engagement in problem-solving — no wonder seniors are such fans of crossword, find-a-word and acrostic puzzles. They're like a treadmill session for the brain! This collection will engage, entertain and challenge your dad, and keep you and him out of each other's hair for a while. (PS: Probably best not paired with the bourbon book.)

$10 $13 at Amazon

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

While we generally advise against judging a book by its cover, who wouldn't want to read this after getting a gander at that image? (Photo: Amazon)

There's seemingly no end to Sedaris's reservoir of insightful, darkly comic reflections. Much of this new volume centers on how living through a pandemic did — and didn't — change him. But he also relates the story of an experience that changes all of us — the death of his father. You'll laugh, you'll cry, all the while making sure you don't bend the binding before you give this to Dad.

$19 $29 at Amazon

The Complete Electric Smoker Cookbook: Over 100 Tasty Recipes and Step-by-Step Techniques to Smoke Just About Everything, by Bill West

The Complete Electric Smoker Cookbook
Dads and dead animal flesh: They're a time-honored pairing. With this book, they're a match made in (hog) heaven. (Photo: Amazon)

What could be more timely for a June-holiday gift than this? As a general proposition, most men are always happy to hear of new ways to prepare, cook and eat meat. Bring out the barbecue king inside him and make some room in the fridge — there's gonna be some sausages, ribs and brisket in his (and hopefully your) future.

$14 $18 at Amazon

James Patterson by James Patterson: The Story of My Life, by James Patterson

James Patterson
The world-famous, gazilliion-selling author finally tells his most important story: his own. (Photo: Amazon)

Nope, that's not a misprint: The ginormously popular, multi-genre writer turns his attention to himself in this memoir. His experiences working in a mental hospital, and an ad agency (did you know he coined the catchphrase "I'm a Toys R Us Kid"?) and the two great loves of his life (only one of which he saw reciprocated) are just a few of the compelling, um, chapters he recalls.

$19 at Amazon

The Big Book of Bourbon Cocktails: 100 Timeless, Creative & Tempting Recipes, by Amy Zavatto

The Big Book of Bourbon Cocktails
Even if dad's a sloppy drunk, he's sure to have fun on his way to getting there. (Photo: Amazon)

Bourbon's often called a "man's drink," and whether that's strictly true or not, this guide is sure to be something to entice any dad who enjoys the occasional (or even not so occasional) alcoholic elixir. At the very least, it'll up his home-entertaining game: Every imbiber loves a creative mixologist!

$14 $17 at Amazon

Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America, by Michael Benson


Gangsters Vs. Nazis
Nothing like a bit of Hitler to make even the baddest guys look good.

If there's anything that dads, especially Baby Boomer dads, love, it's the criminal underworld and WWII. Thus, Michael Benson's torn-from-history tale is like the chocolate-meets-the-peanut butter, the King Kong vs. Godzilla of riveting worlds colliding.

$24 $27 at Amazon

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant

Maverick. Athletic. Yankee. Padre. Angel. Mariner. Dodger. Legend. (Photo: Amazon)

"If you cut Rickey Henderson in half, you'd have two Hall of Famers," wrote historian Bill James. Henderson, in a career spanning five decades and nine teams, scored more runs than any player ever, established himself as the game's most stalwart leadoff hitter, and played a substantial role in the increased visibility and rewarding of Black players.

$27 $30 at Amazon

Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, Ben Shattuck

Six Walks by Ben Shattuck
We bet Waldenbooks wishes it had stuck around for this. (Photo: Amazon)

Okay, maybe your dad's not the sporting type; maybe he's more reflective, philosophically inclined. Well, here's the ticket for him: Shattuck literally re-traced some of Thoreau's long, long New England walks and, much like the transcendentalist icon, experienced more than a few spiritual insights along the way.

100 Questions for Dad: A Journal to Inspire Reflection and Connection, by Jeff Bogle

100 Questions for Dad
This is sure to be refreshing for Pop after twenty years of you barraging him with "Can I____?", "Why not?" and "Are we there yet?" (Photo: Amazon)

Maybe Dad's not inclined to embark on a Thoreau-worthy schlep through the woods. Well, this guided journal may be his entre to philosophical-spiritual revelation. By prompting him with questions in chapters dedicated to his childhood, formative experiences and moral beliefs, it'll begin as a memoir and, maybe, result in a psychic awakening.

$12 $20 at Amazon

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