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.
If your dad believes he could've been a contender, try Albatross by Terry Fallis
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 Relation. His debut book The Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads 2011.
If your dad loves to cook, try Coconut Lagoon by Joe Thottungal
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.
If your dad is determined to stay young, try Successful Aging by Daniel Levitin
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 Music, The World in Six Songs, The Organized Mind and A Field Guide to Lies.
If your dad is the contemplative type, try Field Notes for the Self by Randy Lundy
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's. This 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 Sun, Gift of the Hawk and Blackbird Song, which won the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award in 2019.
If your dad loves Black Mirror, try Radicalized by Cory Doctorow
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.
- Cory Doctorow on Radicalized, the problem with superheroes and writing speculative fiction in a jaded world
If your dad could use a laugh, try Moccasin Square Gardens by Richard Van Camp
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.
If your dad is following COVID-19 closely, try Soap and Water & Common Sense by Dr. Bonnie Henry
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.
If your dad is into exploring the unknown, try, Beyond the Known by Andrew Rader
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.
If your dad likes thrillers, The Last High by Daniel Kalla
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.
If your dad wants to understand the Black Canadian experience, try The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole
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.
If your dad loves getting a deal, try I Wanted Fries With That by Amy Fish
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 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.
If your dad looks like his cat, try My Cat Looks Like My Dad 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
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 Gladiator, The 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
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
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.
If your dad likes a good financial crisis story, try The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Emily St. John Mandel's new book, The Glass Hotel, interweaves 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 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?
If your dad is into ocean adventures, try Imperilled Ocean by Laura Trethewey
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 Ocean.org. Imperilled Ocean is her first book.
If your dad likes a story of triumph, try From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle
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 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.
If your dad likes cool comics, try Dakwäkãda Warriors by Cole Pauls
Two earth protectors are charged with saving the planet from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches in Dakwäkãda Warriors. The 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
In The Reality Bubble, Ziya 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 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.