Your dad might be the kind of guy who says he doesn’t want anything for Father’s Day — not a grill or a watch or a pair of headphones — but what he’s really saying is, he doesn’t want to put you out. If there’s one gift that’s not prohibitively expensive, though, it’s a book. We asked our book critic Christian Lorentzen for the 15 best books to gift for Father’s Day, whether your dad’s a history buff or Updike fanatic.
Patrimony by Philip Roth
Roth’s memoir of his father in old age is perhaps the novelist’s most moving book.
Blitzed by Norman Ohler
It turns out that the German army was largely high on speed, and that by the end of the war the daily injections of vitamins administered to Hitler by his doctor had turned into speedballs.
A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley
This “fictional memoir” tracks the author’s progress through school, marriage, and mental asylums, parallel to the career of his hero, Giants quarterback Frank Gifford.
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Beatty’s slapstick tour de force about the return of slavery to Southern California last year became the first novel by an American to win the Booker Prize.
Updike by Adam Begley
John Updike was postwar America’s most prolific prose stylist, and his life tells the story of the generation born in the Depression, married in the 1960s, divorced in the 1970s, and rich and sated by the 1980s.
SPQR by Mary Beard
Gibbon told of Rome’s decline and fall; Beard, one of England’s national treasures, explains its rise.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Told in the form of a father’s letter to his son, this novel unfolds several generations of history in the Midwest.
The H-Word by Perry Anderson
Do dominant states get their way on a wide scale by using force, or through their allies’ consent? This global history traces the history of the question from Athens to Moscow to Beijing to Washington.
The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim
A family reunion and a wild slapstick farce on the nature of family, masculinity, and all of Western literature.
Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
Mark Twain meets James Joyce in this comedy on the Tennessee River, said to be McCarthy’s semi-autobiographical treatment of his Nashville drinking days.
The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme
A postmodern master’s surreal journey through word play, irony, and the meaning of fatherhood toward somewhere like redemption.
Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra
Why is populist rage breaking out all over the planet? Mishra examines the phenomenon of global ressentiment, where it came from, and what lies in store for societies that promise equality, but deliver large divides between the rich and the poor and the powerful and the wretched.
Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño
These linked stories about fictional fascists of the Western Hemisphere are an ideal introduction to the Chilean master whose masterpieces are The Savage Detectives and 2666.
A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
The Nobel laureate’s cruel yet touching fictional portrait of his own father, an Indian living in Trinidad and making his way as a local journalist, delivers Dickens to the Caribbean.
Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
Winner of last year’s National Book Award, Kendi’s study traces the shifting and insidious development of the intellectual framework of our national disgrace.
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