21 Canadian books to get your dad for Father's Day

Books make great gifts. Whether it's short stories, true crime, memoir or comedy, here are some book suggestions for dad on Father's Day (June 19).

Books make great gifts. Whether it's short stories, true crime, memoir or comedy, here are some book suggestions for dad on Father's Day.

If your dad loves to laugh, try An Embarrassment of Critch's by Mark Critch

An Embarrassment of Critch's is a book by Mark Critch. (Viking, CBC)

An Embarrassment of Critch's is the second memoir by Canadian comedian Mark Critch. It follows Critch's journey from Newfoundland to the national stage and back again. From his earliest acting gigs supporting Newfoundland tourism to taking his show on the road, Critch revisits some of his career's biggest moments in this memoir.

Critch is a Canadian comedian. For 14 years, he has starred on CBC's flagship show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He's the host of CBC's Halifax Comedy Festival and has written for and appeared in CBC's Just for Laughs. He is also the author of the memoir Son of a Critch.

Mark Critch talks to Shelagh Rogers about his latest memoir, An Embarrassment of Critch's.

If your dad likes reading about unsolved mysteries, try Lost in the Valley of Death by Harley Rustad

Lost in the Valley of Death is a book by Harley Rustad. (Michelle Proctor, Knopf Canada)

Justin Alexander Shetler was an American who was trained in wilderness survival. He traveled across America by motorcycle and then made his way to the Philippines, Thailand and Nepal, in search of authentic and meaningful experiences. After several weeks of training, Justin embarked on a journey through the Parvati Valley, a remote and rugged corner of the Indian Himalayas, never to return.

Lost in the Valley of Death is about Shetler's disappearance and presumed death — and the many ways we seek fulfilment in life.

Harley Rustad is a writer, journalist and editor from Salt Spring Island, B.C. He is the author of Big Lonely Doug which was shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Lost in the Valley of Death is his second book. 

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If your dad likes reading memoir, try Permanent Astonishment by Tomson Highway

Permanent Astonishment is a book by Tomson Highway. (Doubleday Canada, Sean Howard)

Permanent Astonishment is a memoir by acclaimed writer Tomson Highway. Highway was born the 11th of 12 children in a nomadic caribou-hunting Cree family. Surrounded by the love of his family and the vast landscape of his home, he lived an idyllic far-north childhood. But five of his siblings died in childhood, and his parents wanted their two youngest sons, Tomson and Rene, to get big opportunities. This memoir offers insight into the Cree experience of culture, conquest and survival.

Permanent Astonishment won the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Highway is a novelist, children's author, playwright and musician. He is a member of the Barren Lands First Nation. His work includes Canadian theatre classics The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen and children's novels Caribou SongDragon Fly Kites and Fox on the Ice.

    If your dad likes short fiction, try Animal Person by Alexander MacLeod

    Alexander MacLeod is the author of Animal Person.
    Alexander MacLeod is the author of Animal Person. (McClelland & Stewart, Heather A. Crosby Gionet)

    The stories in Alexander MacLeod's latest collection explore the struggle for meaning and connection in an age where many of us feel cut off from so much, including ourselves. From two sisters having a petty argument to a family on the brink of a new life, these stories pick at the complexity of our shared human experience.

    Alexander MacLeod is a short story writer and academic from Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ont. MacLeod's debut short story collection Light Lifting was shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Commonwealth Prize. It also won the Atlantic Book Award. In 2019, he won an O. Henry Award for his short story Lagomorph. He currently lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. 

    Alexander MacLeod talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new collection of short stories, Animal Person.

    If your dad wants to read about race and identity, try Disorientation by Ian Williams

    Disorientation is a book by Ian Williams. (Random House Canada, Justin Morris)

    In Disorientation, Ian Williams captures the impact of racial encounters on racialized people. Sometimes, the consequences are only irritating — other times, they are deadly. Driven by the police killings and street protests of 2020, Williams realized he could offer a Canadian perspective on race. A few of the subjects he explores include the moment a child realizes they're Black, the 10 characteristics of institutional whiteness and how friendship helps protect against racism and blame culture.

    Disorientation was on the shortlist for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

    Williams is a poet, novelist and professor from Brampton, Ont., who is currently teaching at the University of British Columbia. His debut novel, Reproduction, won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He is also the author of the poetry collection Personals, which was a finalist for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize.

    In 2019, Canada's Lilly Singh was celebrated as the first LGBTQ+ woman of Indian descent to host a late night talk show on a major American television network. Two years and one ongoing pandemic later, NBC cancelled the show, leaving Singh to figure out her next move, while trying to conquer her feelings of failure. Singh, who rose to fame as a YouTube sensation, shares how she worked her way out of a slump in her new book Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life Into Shape. She speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about how she regained her happiness by finding her foundation, the barriers she came up against in the late-night arena, and what it means to be a leader as a person of Indian heritage in North American culture.

    If your dad is attuned to stories of intergenerational trauma and healing, try Nishga by Jordan Abel

    Nishga is an autobiographical book by Jordan Abel. (Penguin Random House Canada/Submitted by Writers' Trust Canada)

    In Nishga, Jordan Abel grapples with his identity as a Nisga'a writer, being an intergenerational residential school survivor, and his own Indigenous identity while consistently being asked to represent Nisga'a language and culture. Blending memoir, transcriptions and photography, Nishga is an exploration of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person and how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people engage with the legacy of colonial violence and racism.

    Nishga was a finalist for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

    Abel is a Nisga'a writer from British Columbia. He is the author of the poetry collections The Place of ScrapsUn/inhabited and Injun, which won him the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017.

    If your dad is into self-help books, try Be a Triangle by Lilly Singh

    Be a Triangle is a book by Lilly Singh. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Doubleday Canada)

    In this nonfiction book, Canadian actor, author and creator Lilly Singh explores how to create inner peace in the face of adversity. From Singh's personal struggles with identity, success and self-doubt, she teaches readers to "unsubscribe" from cookie-cutter ideals.

    Be a Triangle is an uplifting guide to befriending yourself.

    Singh is an actor, writer and social media creator from Scarborough, Ont. She was the executive producer and host of NBC's A Little Late with Lilly Singh. Singh is the author of the bestselling book How To Be a Bawse. She lives in Los Angeles.

    The anniversary of the assault on the United States Capitol this week was a stark reminder of just how divided American society is today. But could the country actually be headed for a civil war? Canadian writer Stephen Marche urges us to think the unthinkable with his new book The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future. In it, Marche sketches several possible future scenarios of Americans taking up arms against each other, from right-wing militias facing off against the military, to the fallout from a climate disaster creating millions of climate refugees. He joins Piya Chattopadhyay to talk about the book, and what the state of the nation next door could mean for Canadians.

    If your dad is excited by offbeat nonfiction, try How to Take Over the World by Ryan North

    A man wearing glasses rests his arm on a bookcase and looks to the left. A book cover of a cartoon character with a pink face sitting at a desk behind a whiteboard.
    How to Take Over the World is a book by Ryan North. (Connie Tsang, Riverhead Books)

    How to Take Over the World is a guide for supervillains with a keen interest in world domination. In this introduction to the science of comic-book supervillainy, Ryan North details various evil schemes that harness the potential of today's most advanced technologies. The book also considers how one might save the world from some of its greatest threats by exploring emerging techniques to combat cyberterrorism, communicate across millennia and extend human life spans.

    North is a writer and comics creator from Toronto. North's work on the comics Adventure Time, Jughead and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, have received three Eisner AwardsHe has also written two "choose-your-own-path" books, To Be Or Not To Be and Romeo and/or Julietparodying Shakespeare's famous tragedies. His recent book, How to Invent Everythingis a guide on how to rebuild modern civilization for lost time travellers.

    If your dad reads speculative nonfiction, try The Next Civil War by Stephen Marche

    The Next Civil War is a book by Stephen Marche. (Simon & Schuster, Dave Gillespie)

    Drawing upon sophisticated predictive models and nearly 200 interviews with scholars, military leaders, law enforcement officials and political scientists, Toronto-based author Stephen Marche predicts the future collapse of America. 

    The Next Civil War is a researched work of speculative nonfiction that breaks down the possible scenarios and looming threats for America's people, land and government. 

    Marche is a Canadian novelist, essayist and cultural commentator. He is the author of several books, including The Unmade Bed and The Hunger of the Wolf. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire and The Walrus.

    Sarah Weinman on her true-crime thriller Scoundrel, about a convicted killer who conned his way to freedom from Death Row.

    If your dad enjoys poetry, try The Day-Breakers by Michael Fraser

    To the left is an image of the book "The Day-Breakers," with the text "Michael Fraser, The Day-Breakers." To the right is an image of Michael Fraser.
    The Day-Breakers is a book by Michael Fraser. (Biblioasis)

    The Day-Breakers is an homage to the sacrifice of the Black Canadian soldiers who fought for the Union during the American Civil War. The poetry collection captures their voices and the era in which they lived, providing a new perspective on Black history.

    Michael Fraser is an award-winning poet and writer. He has been published in several anthologies and his books include To Greet Yourself Arriving and The Serenity of Stone. His poem African Canadian in Union Blue won the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize

    If your dad likes comics, try Shelterbelts by Jonathan Dyck

    Shelterbelts is a graphic novel by Jonathan Dyck. (Conundrum Press)

    Shelterbelts tells the story of a Mennonite community breaking open, as traditional beliefs and modern values collide. The schisms in the community reach a turning point when a non-denominational mega-church opens on the edge of the rural village. Shelterbelts weaves together scenes from the community — a pastor and his queer daughter contend with lost parish members, a librarian writes prescriptive notes in books for her patrons and young activists fight with a farmer over pipeline construction on his land.

    Jonathan Dyck is a cartoonist from Winnipeg. He has received several provincial prizes for his illustrations, including a silver medal at the 2021 Alberta Magazine Awards and the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award at the 2018 Manitoba Book Awards.

    If your dad loves true crime stories, try Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

    A woman with short curly brown hair. A red and white book cover deigned to look like an old timey newspaper front page.
    Sarah Weinman is the author of Scoundrel (Nina Subin, Knopf Canada)

    Scoundrel tells the true story of Edgar Smith, a convicted murderer who was saved from death row via an unlikely friendship with a famous figure in the neo-conservative movement. After Smith killed a 15-year-old girl in 1957, he was set to be executed. But he struck up a friendship with the conservative William F. Buckley Jr., who hired lawyers to fight for a new trial. Smith also enlisted the help of Sophie Wilkins, a book editor he would go on to have an affair with, and went on to be released from prison and became a bestselling author.

    Sarah Weinman is a journalist and author based in New York City. Her other novels include The Real Lolita, which tells the tale of the life of 11-year-old Sally Horner, who was abducted in 1948 and whose story inspired Vladimir Nabokov's seminal novel Lolita. The Real Lolita won the Arthur Ellis Award for best nonfiction crime book.

    Canadian actor Simu Liu rose to international fame after being cast in the Marvel blockbuster Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. At 33-years-old, the former star of CBC's Kim's Convenience has penned a memoir called We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story, which goes well beyond Hollywood headlines. His real-life story doesn't gloss over family strife and violence, the weight of diverse representation in Hollywood and his own missteps along the way. He opens up to Piya Chattopadhyay about all of that and the hope his story will inspire others to pursue their dreams in the face of uncertainty.

    If your dad is a fan of Kim's Convenience, try We Were Dreamers by Simu Liu

    A book cover of a man sitting on a stool. The same man poses staring at the camera with his hand on his temple.
    We Were Dreamers is a book by Simu Liu. (HarperCollins Publishers)

    Simu Liu details his journey from China to Canada to Hollywood, where he becomes the star of Marvel's first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    Born in China, Liu's parents brought him to Canada when he was just four years old. As he grows up, he gets top marks in school, participates in national math competitions and makes his parents proud. But less than a year out of college and disillusioned with the life laid out for him, Liu is determined to carve out his own path.

    Liu is an actor and writer best known for his work on Marvel's Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience. He lives in Los Angeles and Toronto.

    Linwood Barclay talks about the art of writing crime fiction

    4 years ago
    Duration 4:11
    In the CBC Books 'Why I Write' series, Canadian authors talk about what literature means to them.

    If your dad likes a gripping thriller novel, try Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

    Take Your Breath Away is a novel by Linwood Barclay. (CBC, William Morrow)

    When Andrew Mason's wife, Brie, goes missing while he was on a fishing trip, everyone assumes Andy got away with murder. For a while, Andy hits rock bottom, abandoned by all his friends and using alcohol to cope. The police could never build a strong case against him and eventually, Andy sells the house he shared with Brie and rebuilds his life. Several years later, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Brie shows up at Andy's old house and dark suspicions resurface.

    Linwood Barclay is an American-Canadian thriller writer, with almost 20 books to his credit. His books include the adult thrillers Broken Promise, A Noise Downstairs, Elevator Pitch and the middle-grade novels Escape and Chase.

    David Chariandy talks to Shelagh Rogers about his book brother, which is a 2019 Canada Reads contender.

    If your dad likes reading about family dynamics, try I've Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy

    I've Been Meaning to Tell You is David Chariandy's latest book. (McClelland & Stewart, Joy van Tiedemann)

    In I've Been Meaning to Tell YouDavid Chariandy contemplates how to talk to his young daughter about the politics and history of race by sharing their family's story and his personal experience as the son of Black and South Asian immigrants from Trinidad. Chariandy navigates sensitive and complex issues, acknowledging a painful past while also describing a hopeful future.

    David Chariandy has been a known commodity since his award-winning 2007 novel Soucouyant arrived on the scene. But the writer and university educator continues to work on his craft — as seen in Brother and his 2018 nonfiction work I've Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter.

    Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2018 Toronto Book Award and the 2018 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. It was also longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was on the Canada Reads 2019 longlist.

    If your dad is into stories of identity and belonging, try Son of Elsewhere by Elamin Abdelmahmoud

    Elamin Abdelmahmoud is the author of Son of Elsewhere. (CBC, McClelland & Stewart)

    In his debut memoir, Elamin Abdelmahmoud recounts his experience leaving his native Sudan and moving to Kingston, Ont. Like all teens, he spent his adolescence trying to figure out who he was, but he had to do it while learning to balance a new racial identity and all the assumptions that came with being Black and Muslim. 

    Son of Elsewhere explores how our experiences and environments can define our identity and who we truly are. 

    Abdelmahmoud is the host of CBC's weekly pop culture podcast Pop Chat, co-host of CBC's political podcast Party Lines and a frequent culture commentator for CBC News. He's a culture writer for BuzzFeed News, where he also writes Incoming, the daily morning newsletter.

    Vivek Shraya talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest book, Next Time There's a Pandemic.

    If your dad is interested in how people reinvent themselves, try People Change by Vivek Shraya

    People Change is a book by Vivek Shraya. (Penguin Canada, Ariane Laezza)

    In People Change, multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya reflects on what motivates us to change and why we often fear it. From making resolutions to outgrowing relationships and dreams, the nonfiction book looks at why and how we are constantly contemplating who we want to be. 

    People Change is a guide to celebrating the many versions of ourselves — and inspires us to discover who we'll become next. 

    Shraya is a Canadian artist and author whose work in music, writing and visual art often transcends and overlaps with one another. Her books include the novel The Subtweet, the longform essay I'm Afraid of Men and graphic novel Death Threat.

    If your dad is a foodie, try Have You Eaten Yet? by Cheuk Kwan

    A red book cover with small illustrations of Chinese food and white text. An Asian man with grey hair looks at the camera.
    Have You Eaten Yet? is a nonfiction book by Cheuk Kwan. (D&M Publishers, Cedric Sam)

    Family-run Chinese restaurants across the world are symbols of immigration and community, but they also offer insight into the social forces and history at play. Documentarian Cheuk Kwan shares the stories of the chefs, entrepreneurs and labourers who work in Chinese kitchens across the world. 

    Have You Eaten Yet? explores the global Chinese migration and how Chinese immigrants grapple with assimilation, cultural identity and economic survival.

    Cheuk Kwan is a writer and filmmaker. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Singapore, Kwan has lived in the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Canada. His film series Chinese Restaurants explores stories from the Chinese diaspora by focusing on different family-run Chinese restaurants located all over the world.

    If your dad loves books about collaboration, try The Power of Teamwork by Dr. Brian Goldman

    The Power of Teamwork is a book by Dr. Brian Goldman. (HarperCollins, CBC)

    The Power of Teamwork is a nonfiction book that shows how a team approach to medicine can improve more than our healthcare systems. This new model can lead to better customer service, solidify the provision of social services to troubled youth, make professional sports teams perform better and even help women break the glass ceiling. 

    Dr. Brian Goldman is an ER doctor and a bestselling author. He is the host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art and the CBC podcast The Dose, which is about the latest in health news. Goldman lives in Toronto.

    Suzanne Simard talks to Shelagh Rogers about her book, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.

    If your dad likes books about nature, try Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

    Finding the Mother Tree is a memoir by Suzanne Simard. (Bill Heath, Allen Lane)

    Biologist Suzanne Simard discovered the reality of the interconnection and intelligence of the forest. She's been able to find out that the trees are indeed whispering to each other — communicating not through the wind, but through the soil. Her new scientific memoir, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, describes her life and research. 

    Finding the Mother Tree was the grand prize winner for the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Competition and a category winner for the mountain environment and natural history award. It was also nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

    Simard is a B.C.-based author and academic who grew up in Canadian forests as a descendant of loggers. She is a professor in the department of forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia. She championed Life in the City of Dirty Water by Clayton Thomas-Müller on Canada Reads 2022.

    Eugene Marten on his novel Pure Life, about an athlete whose life goes downhill after he's past his prime.

    If your dad is into sports, try Pure Life by Eugene Marten

    Pure Life is a novel by Eugene Marten. (Strange Light, submitted by Eugene Marten)

    Pure Life is a novel about a protagonist known only as Nineteen, a retired football player who lived the American Dream as a star quarterback and celebrity. His life is now crumbling around him as his family grows apart, his wealth diminishes and he is now suffering with health issues and possible brain damage from his days as a pro athlete.

    Eugene Marten is a Winnipeg-born, Cleveland-based writer. The American Canadian author's work includes the novella Waste and novels In the Blind, Firework and Layman's Report.

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