24 books to get your dad for Father's Day

Books make great gifts. From laugh-out-loud short stories to stories about space exploration, here are some suggestions for your dad on Father's Day.

Books make great gifts. From laugh-out-loud short stories to stories about space exploration, here are some suggestions for your dad on Father's Day.

If your dad believes he could've been a contender, try Albatross by Terry Fallis

Terry Fallis' latest novel is called Albatross and it's out now. (Tim Fallis, Penguin Random House Canada)

A Swedish study suggesting that everybody can excel in at least one sport changes the life of high school student Adam Coryell. He discovers that he is a naturally gifted golf player, but as he racks up the trophies, he's forced to admit to himself that he doesn't really enjoy the sport.

Terry Fallis is the author of several comedic novels. He has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour twice — for his novels The Best Laid Plans and No RelationHis debut book The Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads 2011.

Terry Fallis on his latest novel, Albatross, about the tension between success and happiness in the life of a teenage golf prodigy.

If your dad loves to cook, try Coconut Lagoon by Joe Thottungal

Coconut Lagoon is a cookbook by Joe Thottungal. (Figure 1 Publishing)

Ottawa chef Joe Thottungal hails originally from Kerala in southwestern India, a region famous for its lush scenery and delicious cuisine. Thottungal, owner of the restaurant Coconut Lagoon, collects 80 recipes for home cooks, featuring authentic southern Indian dishes like mango pickle, dosa and malabar parathas. 

    Coconut Lagoon is Thottungal's first cookbook.

    The Cree poet Randy Lundy on Field Notes for the Self, and drawing inspiration from what's right in his own backyard.

    If your dad is determined to stay young, try Successful Aging by Daniel Levitin

    Successful Aging is a book by Daniel J. Levitin. (Arsenio Corôa, Allen Lane)

    As a neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin found himself stumped by something: why is it that some people in their 90s maintain all their mental sharpness, while others find their cognitive abilities start to dull in their 50s and 60s? When he couldn't find any books about the subject, he decided to write one himself. Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives looks at the science and psychology of growing older and uses that to explore what aging really means — and offers advice for living your best life as you get older.

    Levitin is a neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist and bestselling author. His books include This Is Your Brain on MusicThe World in Six SongsThe Organized Mind and A Field Guide to Lies.

    Cory Doctorow on his Canada Reads contender Radicalized: Four Tales of Our Present Moment, a collection of four SF novellas.

    If your dad is the contemplative type, try Field Notes for the Self by Randy Lundy

    Randy Lundy is a Canadian poet and writer. (University of Regina Press, Submitted)

    Field Notes for the Self is a series that takes inspiration from the poetic structuring of Patrick Lane, John Thompson and Charles Wright, but their closest cousins may be Arvo Pärt'sThis collection deals with the idea of liberation from personal and inherited trauma and memories of violence inflicted on Lundy's Indigenous ancestors which continue to haunt him. Similar to Randy Lundy's past works, this collection is rooted in observations of the natural world. 

    Lundy is a Saskatchewan-based short story writer and award-winning poet. He has published three previous books, Under the Night SunGift of the Hawk and Blackbird Song, which won the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award in 2019.

    British Columbia's provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on her 2009 book Soap and Water and Common Sense, which has been reissued.

    If your dad loves Black Mirror, try Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

    Cory Doctorow is the author of Radicalized. (CBC)

    Radicalized is a collection of four novellas that explore the quandaries — social, economic and technological — of contemporary America. Cory Doctorow's characters deal with issues around immigration, corrupt police forces, dark web uprisings and more. Akil Augustine will defend Radicalized on Canada Reads 2020.

    Doctorow is a bestselling sci-fi novelist whose past books include Little Brother and Walkaway. He is also the editor of the blog Boing Boing.

    Dr, Goldman speaks to Vancouver ER physician and author Dr. Daniel Kalla. Kalla's latest novel The Last High tracks the search for a deadly supply of fentanyl. Kalla also discusses his prescient previous novel , Pandemic, which was about the spread of a deadly virus. He tells Dr. Goldman how his work in the ER informed his writing, and discusses what kind of an impact the current pandemic is having on the opioid crisis.

    If your dad could use a laugh, try Moccasin Square Gardens by Richard Van Camp

    Moccasin Square Gardens is a short story collection by Richard Van Camp. (Douglas & McIntyre, Laughing Dog Photography)

    Moccasin Square Gardens is a collection of humorous short fiction set in Denendeh, the land of the people north of the 60th parallel. Richard Van Camp's stories involve extraterrestrials, illegal wrestling moves and the legendary Wheetago, human-eating monsters who have come to punish the greed of humanity. 

    Van Camp is a prolific novelist, comic writer and children's book writer whose work includes The Lesser BlessedA Blanket of Butterflies and Little You.

    Sean McCann and Andrea Aragon on their co-written memoir One Good Reason: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music, and Love.

    If your dad is following COVID-19 closely, try Soap and Water & Common Sense by Dr. Bonnie Henry

    Originally published in 2009 and reissued in 2020, Dr. Bonnie Henry's Soap and Water & Common Sense is a guide to staying healthy in a germ-filled world. (House of Anansi Press, Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

    In her 2009 book, Soap and Water & Common Sense, Dr. Bonnie Henry documented her interest in public health and preventative medicine, along with the three decades spent chasing microbes all over the world — including Ebola, polio, SARS and the H1N1 influenza outbreak. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Soap and Water & Common Sense has been reissued. 

    Henry is an epidemiologist, or microbe hunter, and is currently the provincial health officer for British Columbia.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, being a train porter in Canada was the exclusive domain of black men who laboured long hours for miserable pay. Cecil Foster is a journalist and academic whose book, They Call Me George; The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada, chronicles the story of the "Pullmen" of the Canadian rail lines, and their fight for social justice.

    If your dad is into exploring the unknown, try, Beyond the Known by Andrew Rader

    Beyond the Known is a nonfiction book by Andrew Rader. (Carolyn Barnes/Alexander McGrellis, Simon & Schuster)

    Beyond the Known is a book about exploration. It looks at major periods of discovery — such as in ancient Greece and Rome, the age of European exploration and the scientific revolution — to show how being curious and inquisitive can lead to unimaginably great things.

    Andrew Rader is a Mission Manager at SpaceX. Beyond the Known is his fourth book. 

    Malcolm Gladwell on his new book Talking to Strangers, about how we make wrong assumptions when dealing with people we don’t know.

    If your dad likes thrillers, The Last High by Daniel Kalla

    The Last High is a book by Daniel Kalla. (Simon & Schuster Canada,

    The Last High is a thriller inspired by the opioid crisis. Dr. Julie Rees is shocked when a number of teenagers from the same party arrive at the ER. She suspects the adolescents took fentanyl, but this case is unusual. Teaming up with Detective Anson Chen, Rees is determined to tackle the underground drug world and find out the source of these dangerous drugs. 

    Daniel Kalla is an emergency room doctor, as well as an international bestselling author of 10 books, including We All Fall Down.

    Emily St John Mandel on The Glass Hotel, her follow-up to her breakout novel Station Eleven.

    If your dad wants to understand the Black Canadian experience, try The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole

    The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole was released in January 2020. (Doubleday Canada, Martin Trainor/CBC)

    In The Skin We're In, journalist and activist Desmond Cole chronicles a year of being black in Canada. He looks at the practice of carding, the treatment of black refugees and Cole's own activism in regards to the Toronto police and their treatment of black citizens.

    Cole's writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, the Walrus and several other publications. The Skin We're In is his first book. It was inspired by his 2015 magazine essay The Skin I'm In, which was published in Toronto Life. The Skin We're In was also a CBC documentary. You can watch it on CBC Gem.

    Jesse Thistle and George Canyon on Canada Reads 2020

    3 years ago
    Duration 5:58
    Country singer George Canyon will defend Jesse Thistle's memoir From the Ashes on Canada Reads 2020. Ahead of the debates, the musician and first-time author chatted about what it was like to write a very personal book.

    If your dad loves getting a deal, try I Wanted Fries With That by Amy Fish

    I Wanted Fries with That is a nonfiction book by Amy Fish. (New World Library)

    Amy Fish knows a good complaint when she sees one. She also knows how to get what you want. Why? She's spent her entire career as a university ombudsman and, when it comes to complaints, she has seen it all. With light-hearted humour, Fish's first book I Wanted Fries With That reveals how to complain effectively to get what you want while also being honest and fair in the process. 

    Fish is the ombudsman at Concordia University in Montreal. I Wanted Fries With That  is her first book.

    If your dad is a fan of Great Big Sea, try One Good Reason by Séan McCann and Andrea Aragon

    Séan McCann and Andrea Aragon are the co-authors of the memoir One Good Reason. (Nimbus Publishing, Megan Vincent)

    Séan McCann spent 20 years of his life as a founder of Great Big Sea, the bestselling Newfoundland folk rock band that was known as Canada's biggest party band. But all that partying was a convenient cover for McCann's alcoholism — and the drinking was his way to tamp down the trauma of abuse that he carried with him since his teenage years. It was only when his wife Andrea Aragon gave him the ultimatum, "Stop or I'm leaving," that McCann changed his life for good. McCann and Aragon chronicle their story together in the memoir One Good Reason.

    One Good Reason is McCann and Aragon's first book.

    Cole Pauls and his Indigenous punk comics

    4 years ago
    Duration 4:14
    Tahltan comic artist Cole Pauls has been inspired by punk music, pizza and carrying the legacy of Southern Tutchone language through his comic art. Filmmaker: Camille Vernet

    If your dad looks like his cat, try My Cat Looks Like My Dad by Thao Lam

    My Cat Looks Like My Dad is a picture book by Thao Lam. (Submitted by Thao Lam)

    A narrator, whose surprising identity is revealed at the end of the picture book, describes the ways in which their cat and dad are similar: they both have orange hair, love to nap and are occasionally brave.

    Thao Lam is also the author of the picture book Wallpaper.

    If your dad misses Game of Thrones, try The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

    Evan Winter is the author of The Rage of Dragons. (Orbit Books, @evanwinter/

    In Evan Winter's fantasy debut The Rage of Dragons, a world is caught in an eternal war and Tau is his people's only hope for survival. Described as a mix of Game of Thrones and GladiatorThe Rage of Dragons follows Tau as he attempts to get revenge and become the greatest swordsman to ever live. 

    The Rage of Dragons was originally self-published before it was acquired by Orbit Books. It is the first book in a planned series.

    Winter is also the author of The Fires of Vengeance, which is coming out in fall 2020.

    If your dad likes history, try They Call Me George by Cecil Foster

    Cecil Foster is a Canadian novelist, essayist, journalist and scholar. (Sharon Beckford-Foster, Michael Vrana & Biblioasis)

    At the beginning of the 20th century, being a train porter in Canada was a job reserved for black men only. Cecil Foster documents this underreported piece of Canadian history in the nonfiction book They Call Me George. The tiring, thankless and low-paying job — that consisted of hauling luggage, folding down beds, shining shoes and serving passengers — forced these men to be separated from their families as they travelled the country. They Call Me George documents how one man, Stanley Grizzle, went from being a porter to leading a movement and eventually receiving the Order of Canada.

    Foster is an academic and author who currently teaches at the University of Buffalo.

    If your dad is always talking to strangers, try Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell is the author of Talking to Strangers (Celeste Sloman, Hachette Book Group Canada)

    Talking to Strangers explores how we interact with people we don't know, and the impact of the assumptions we bring to these conversations. As with his previous books, Malcolm Gladwell uses anecdotes and a narrative voice to examine how societal structures shape human behaviour, including decision-making and the spread of ideas. 

    Gladwell is the author of several books, including BlinkOutliers and The Tipping Point.

    If your dad likes a good financial crisis story, try The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

    The Glass Hotel is a novel by Emily St. John Mandel. (HarperCollins, Sarah Shatz)

    Emily St. John Mandel's new book, The Glass Hotelinterweaves several complex narratives. Vincent is a bartender in a prestigious hotel on Vancouver Island. When the owner — Jonathan Alkaitis — passes Vincent his card, it becomes the beginning of their story together. Meanwhile, a hooded figure scrawls a cryptic note on a wall in the hotel, and a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis — Leon Prevant — sees the note and is shaken. Thirteen years later, Vincent disappears from a Neptune-Avramidis ship. 

    St. John Mandel is a New York-based Canadian writer. Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the 2015 Toronto Book Award. 

    If your dad is a hockey fan, try Scotty by Ken Dryden

    Scotty is a nonfiction book by Ken Dryden. (Sergey Smirnov, McClelland & Stewart)

    Scotty Bowman is considered one of the greatest hockey minds to ever be part of the game. He's won more Stanley Cups and been around more of the game's greats than anyone else. In Scotty, Ken Dryden gets Bowman to share memories from his stellar career while also posing questions like, what teams would be in the top eight best teams of all time? And, if they played head-to-head in a playoff series, who would win?

    Dryden, a legendary former goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, is also the author of The Game and Game Change.

    If your dad is into ocean adventures, try Imperilled Ocean by Laura Trethewey

    Imperilled Ocean is a book by Laura Trethewey. (Goose Lane Editions, Stuart Isett)

    Imperilled Ocean by Laura Trethewey follows several different people, but they all have one thing in common: the ocean. Imperilled Ocean combines remarkable stories — such as a community living on the water battling eviction to a Ghanian teenager trying to make it to Europe on a life raft — with deep research to paint a portrait of a place that takes up most of the space on this planet, yet we know so little about, in a time when climate change is rapidly changing the ocean and humanity's relationship to it.

    Trethewey is a science journalist who specializes in oceans. She is a writer and editor for Vancouver Aquarium's website Imperilled Ocean is her first book.

    If your dad likes a story of triumph, try From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

    Jesse Thistle is the author of From the Ashes. (CBC)

    Jesse Thistle is a Métis-Cree academic specializing in Indigenous homelessness, addiction and inter-generational trauma. For Thistle, these issues are more than just subjects on the page. After a difficult childhood, Thistle spent much of his early adulthood struggling with addiction while living on the streets of Toronto. Told in short chapters interspersed with poetry, his memoir From the Ashes details how his issues with abandonment and addiction led to homelessness, incarceration and his eventual redemption through higher education. George Canyon is defending From the Ashes on Canada Reads 2020.

    Thistle is a recipient of the Governor General's Silver Medal in 2016. From the Ashes is his first book.

    If your dad is always reciting made-up rhymes, try For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe by Gary Barwin

    For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe is a poetry collection by Gary Barwin. (Buckrider Books, George Qua Enoo)

    For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe brings together new and old work from acclaimed poet Gary Barwin. An inventive writer, Barwin showcases his range, playfulness and originality from the course of his 35-year career in this new book.

    Barwin is the author of several poetry collections and one novel. His novel, Yiddish for Pirateswon the 2017 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

    If your dad likes cool comics, try Dakwäkãda Warriors by Cole Pauls

    Dakwakada Warriors is a comic by Cole Pauls. (Conundrum Press)

    Two earth protectors are charged with saving the planet from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches in Dakwäkãda WarriorsThe comic, translated into two dialects of Southern Tutchone, serves as an allegory for colonialism.

    Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist. He created Dakwäkãda Warriors as a language revival initiative. In 2017, it won the Broken Pencil Magazine's Best Comic and the Best Zine of the Year Award.

    If your dad likes science, try The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong 

    The Reality Bubble is a nonfiction book by Ziya Tong. (Penguin Random House Canada, CBC)

    In The Reality BubbleZiya Tong reminds readers that the human eye pales in comparison to what animals with infrared, ultraviolet and 360-degree vision can see. She looks into 10 of humanity's biggest blind spots, including where our food and energy comes from and where our waste goes. 

    Tong was the anchor of the Discovery Channel's science program Daily Planet. She successfully defended the memoir By Chance Alone by Max Eisen on Canada Reads 2019. The Reality Bubble is her first book.

    If you have no idea what to get your dad, try Forty Fathers

    Forty Fathers is an essay collection compiled by Tessa Llloyd. (Douglas & McIntyre,

    Forty Fathers is a collection of essays, curated by Tessa Lloyd, in which 40 prominent Canadian men share their thoughts and experiences about parenting. Contributors include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, writer Lawrence Hill, academic Niigaan Sinclair, athlete Trevor Linden, restaurateur Vikram Vij, musician Alan Doyle, artist Robert Bateman and philanthropist Rick Hansen.

    Lloyd is a counsellor, writer and photographer based in Victoria. Forty Fathers is her first book.

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