With Father’s Day approaching, we all start trying to guess what our dads would actually like as a present. It’s never easy! However, if your father likes books, iUniverse here offers some volumes, old and new, that resonate well with the paternal member of the family. We’ve excluded business literature, as we figure your dad needs a rest from all that.
Let’s start with the good old-fashioned adventure stories. One that immediately comes to mind, considering the popularity of the current Black Sails show, is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Characters like Long John Silver are timeless, as is a hunt for buried treasure, and the book allows one to escape into a period that seemed to mix danger with fun. If your dad has already read it, it was probably in his youth, and we’re sure he’d be happy to read it again.
Another adventure story that Dad will enjoy is King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard. A slightly more mature book than Treasure Island, King Solomon’s Mines follows the expedition of three Englishmen into the heart of Africa in the late 1800s. Like Stevenson’s book, it is a hunt for buried treasure, though the actions of hunting and tribal war provide the most exciting aspects of the book. The African wilderness indeed comes across as Man’s territory.
Moving away from the adventure stories that delight boys and men, science and science-fiction often feature highly on men’s reading lists. One book which has – dare we say it – stood the test of time, is Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. This excellent volume takes Einstein’s theories of relativity and expands upon them, telling us about different universes, black holes, and time travel. It’s written for the layman, as Hawking was told by his publisher that including any physics equations would cut his sales in half! If your dad doesn’t have much time on his hands – no pun intended – there is also the sequel, A Briefer History of Time.
On science’s fictional side, if Dad enjoyed the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, we have the newest addition to the Star Wars canon: Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. The book focuses on Princess Leia and her ordeals in dealing with a distrustful senate, while also featuring the development of the dreaded First Order, which has replaced The Empire.
Military history is generally a popular subject among fathers, and one book that should definitely grace your dad’s bookshelf is American Caesar, the biography of General Douglas MacArthur, by William Manchester. MacArthur passed away in 1964, but he remains legendary – a hard-fighting, tough-as-nails exemplar of the American military ideal. Written in exquisite but readable prose, this is a book for the coffee table in Dad’s favorite room of the house.
Another book which qualifies for that distinction is Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, by Alan Bullock, especially if Dad is a World War II buff (as most dads are). This is an in-depth look at two major dictators who emerged just under a century ago, and the similarities between them. Their lives tell a story of over 30 years of some of the most intense historical action the world has ever known.
In the world of music, a recent addition to musical biography is Philip Norman’s Paul McCartney: The Life. Norman is an expert on the Beatles and has all the right connections to get extensive and accurate information, as is also shown in his biography of John Lennon. In fact, Norman corresponded with McCartney to get material for Lennon’s biography.
Finally, no discussion of Father’s Day books would be complete without mentioning some sports literature. With the passing of Muhammad Ali last year, we can recommend King of the World, written by David Remnick. King of the World focuses on Ali’s boxing career before his pitfalls with the Vietnam draft and prison, and gives a fascinating account of the boxing world in the 1960s, including an extensive profile of Sonny Liston. Remnick’s experience as a writer and editor for The New Yorker serves him well, as the book is eloquently written with stimulating turns-of-phrase.
Another sports book, written with masculine vigor and easy to just pick up and read anytime, is The Mick, the autobiography of baseball legend Mickey Mantle. While this dates from the 1980s, it remains required reading for any New York Yankees fan. The book is especially good at delineating the friendship between Mantle and Billy Martin, showing how in addition to being baseball legends, they were also human beings with all the faults of young men.
With that, we salute your dads and ours, and wish them all a Happy Father’s Day!
— By Tom McKinley