From tales of untold history to heartwarming essays, these books make great gifts for dad for Father’s Day.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated May 19, 2020
Advertisement
amazon.com

Some dads can be tough to shop for for Father’s Day gifts. You can only buy a man so many ties and tools and techy toys, after all. But if he’s a big reader, you’re in luck. He’ll always be pleased if you buy him a book—and we personally think there’s nothing more thoughtful than a Father’s Day book.

The best dad books for your father, just like the right Father’s Day activities, will depend on what he likes. If your dad loves to work with his hands, consider getting him a book that’s both instructional and funny. (Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun could hit the spot.) If he’s into hiking and camping, try A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. A book by Jon Krakauer, like Into Thin Air, would be perfect for dads obsessed with adventure.

And don’t forget about fiction. When many of us think of Father’s Day books, we think of authors like John Grisham. But with so many books to his name, it can be daunting to choose just one. Consider starting with A Time to Kill, Grisham’s first novel. Spy novels make great books for dads, too. John le Carré is a master of the genre. Pick up one of his best-known works: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Particularly if your dad is into more serious, literary titles, don’t ignore the classics. Maybe get a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea for your own old man, or try another author like Jack London, whose Call of the Wild is among the manliest of classics. (He may just find some of his favorite Father’s Day quotes among these reads.)

The great thing about giving books as gifts is that even the father who thinks he’s learned it all can still explore a new world, learn more about his favorite hobby, or be entertained by a fun cast of characters. The power of books for moms is already well-known—let dad join in on the bookish fun, too.

Too many choices? Leave the book picking up to us. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the best books to buy for your dad for Father’s Day 2020. No matter his interest, these picks are sure to delight him.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

1

In this touching memoir, aging journalist Gornall reflects on feeling like he missed so many chances as a father. Now in his 50s, he’s been given a second chance to be the dad his daughter Phoebe always needed. So he decides to make her a boat. With woodworking details and the metaphoric precision of H Is for Hawk, this book will please even the finickiest of fatherly readers.

To buy: $18; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

2

This is the first in the celebrated author’s Seasons Quartet, which begins with a letter to his unborn daughter. Knausgaard wrote daily, describing the world for her. With writing that is both sensitive and poetic, Autumn captures family life in rural Sweden. Buy this book for the discerning dad in your life.

To buy: $19; amazon.com.

Courtesy of HarperCollins

3

In this short, but impactful collection of essays, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) reflects on fatherhood and identity. Chabon fans may recognize “Little Man,” the author’s viral GQ essay about taking his son to Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. The other new essays in the collection touch on his own relationship with his father, giving his son advice about how to treat women, and baseball.

To buy: $17; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

4

Dads who love camping and the outdoors need this guide to encounters with 50 different animals. Journalist Levin gives well-researched advice for surviving run-ins with coyotes, bears, and moose, among other large animals, along with helpful tips, anecdotes, and charts for dealing with smaller critters, from bees to skunks. The illustrations make it the perfect coffee table book, while its small size means it also fits nicely in a backpack.

To buy: $10; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

5

If dad can’t read enough books about World War II and the early 20th Century, he’ll devour this new novel from the author of The English Patient. In Warlight, readers meet 14-year-old Nathanial and his sister Rachel, who are left in the care of a man named The Moth when their parents move to Singapore in the decades after the war. The Moth and a cast of characters that weave in and out of the group’s home are part of a mysterious war effort that Nathanial will uncover over time.

To buy: $16; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

6

If your dad strives to impress the dinner table with little-known historical facts, he's sure to love this quirky book. Full of copies of real maps from history, each page highlights mistakes made on those maps—including blunders made by early mapmakers and deliberate lies made by cartographers to manipulate the map reader. Through gorgeous images and fun historical stories about civilizations past, he'll be sure to find a new story to wow everyone at the next family gathering.

To buy: $25; amazon.com.

Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

7

History buffs and entrepreneurial dads will be inspired by journalist Wills’ deeply researched account of the country’s first black millionaires—six men and women who overcame slavery and oppression to break into the one percent. Wills’ fascinating book explores the lives of little-known figures, including teacher-turned-real estate developer O. W. Gurley and self-taught chemist Annie Turnbo-Malone, who created a successful line of hair products for black women.

To buy: $10; harpercollins.com.

amazon.com

8

For the dad who still has a collection of records somewhere in the house, this anthology of album art will capture his interest for hours. Famous music archivist and rock photographer Michael Ochs has selected the best covers from his extensive private collection, and his book takes readers through the evolution of rock music from the 60s to the 90s.

To buy: $18; amazon.com.

amazon.com

9

Given the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, this book is both thoughtful and timely. If Dad is an avid traveler or just has a serious case of wanderlust, he’ll love thumbing through the various graphic posters illustrating a beautiful park or national monument.

To buy: $12; amazon.com.

amazon.com

10

If Dad loves beer, this handbook covers everything he needs to know about brewing his own—from buying the perfect equipment to crafting a flavor that’s all his own.

To buy: $19; amazon.com.

amazon.com

11

This New York Times bestseller examines and retells the story of the Lusitania, a luxury ocean liner considered to be the fastest cruise ship in the world during WWI. The ship sank in May 1915, carrying with it a record number of infants and children. Larson’s carefully researched story attempts to answer many of the questions surrounding the disaster.

To buy: $17; amazon.com.

amazon.com

12

This book has 30 interactive experiments for Dad to try in the house (or outside if they get too messy). It covers all of the sciences, from chemistry to human anatomy. You can even make “Marshmallow Pulse Keepers.” Curious yet?

To buy: $15; amazon.com.

amazon.com

13

This is the story of the Ghost Army—men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops—whose top-secret mission in France was said to play a crucial role in defeating Germany during the war.

To buy: $20; amazon.com.

amazon.com

14

Fashion-forward dogs model the classic menswear items and must-haves for every man’s closet, mixing essential style advice with seriously cute photos that will make any Dad smile.

To buy: $8; amazon.com.

amazon.com

15

Keep him laughing with this collection of more than 2,000 sophisticated funnies. Bonus: The book comes with two easily searchable CDs loaded with every cartoon—more than 68,000!—featured in the magazine since it began publishing in 1925.

To buy: $24; amazon.com.

amazon.com

16

Your dad may know Ben Falcone for his appearances in the movies Enough Said and Bridesmaids, or his work as the director of The Boss and Tammy, but his most challenging role to date has been the one of a father. Your dad will relate to his struggles as he tells of the hilarious adventures he and his wife, Melissa McCarthy, have had raising their two young daughters.

To buy: $15; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Bloomsbury

17

Kuipers’s dad, Bruce, was a philanderer. His cheating broke up their family. So, of course, Kuipers was surprised when his estranged father bought a 100-acre swath of land in the hopes of reconnecting with his sons. This book makes the perfect present for nature-loving dads, especially if you have hopes of rekindling your relationship with your old man.

To buy: $24; amazon.com.

Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

18

If your dad wants to relax by the pool with a novel, this zany Florida thriller—the 22nd installment of the author’s popular Serge Storms series—about a sex scandal in a retirement community (no, really) will make him forget about the work week.

To buy: $18; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

19

For the dads more into espionage and intrigue than heartwarming tales, this thriller follows advertising executive Ned Sweeney, who is tapped for the notorious CIA mind-control experiment, MK-Ultra. It’s sure to keep your dad on the edge of his seat.

To buy: $12; amazon.com.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

20

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is a collection of essays on fatherhood from the beloved author of A Man Called Ove ($10, amazon.com). Backman writes to share life in all its humor, complexity, and wonder with his newborn son. What does it take to be a dad? Equal doses of love and laughter will get you through almost anything.

To buy: $16; amazon.com.