This Sunday is Father’s Day, and whether you are celebrating your father or cursing his name, we have a list of very good books about fathers and the impact they have (or don’t have) on our lives from some of our favorite writers.
The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A post-apocalyptic (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) tale of a journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth.
Hamlet by Shakespeare
A dead father can still cause a whole lotta trouble—Hamlet centers around the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet.
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
Max Porter’s debut novella tells the story of a father and his two sons following the sudden, accidental death of his wife.
The Last Samuri by Helen DeWitt
Lacking male role models for a fatherless boy, a mother turns to endless replays of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai. But her son is obsessed with the one thing he wants and doesn’t know: his father’s name. At eleven, inspired by his own take on the classic film, he sets out on a secret quest for the father he never knew.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key in a vase that belonged to his father, a year after he is killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of the key, a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey toward some kind of peace.
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own.
H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life.
The Shining by Stephen King
Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. His family accompanies him on this job, including his young son Danny Torrance, who possesses “the shining,” an array of psychic abilities that allow him to see the hotel’s horrific past. Soon, after a winter storm leaves them snowbound, the supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel influence Jack’s sanity, leaving his wife and son in incredible danger.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
After much adventuring, Harry finally uncovers the truth and meets his godfather Sirius Black, and believes for the first time that he’s found the father figure he’s yearned for all his life.
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
Obreht’s debut novel features a young doctor’s relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her, primarily about the ‘deathless man’ who meets him several times in different places and never changes, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that has escaped from a zoo.
Real Man Adventures by T Cooper
Real Man Adventures is Cooper’s brash, wildly inventive, and often comic exploration of the paradoxes and pleasures of masculinity. He takes us through his transition into identifying as male, and how he went on to marry his wife and become an adoring stepfather of two children. Alternately bemused and exasperated when he feels compelled to explain all this, Cooper never loses his sense of humor.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A classic most won’t escape school without reading, its narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers and fathers alike.