Is it just me, or does it seem like dads are harder to buy for than moms? Every time I ask my father what he wants for Father’s Day, he tells me he wants a hug. Well, this year our cross-country distance will make that impossible, so he’ll have to settle for my go-to gift: a book.
Whether you’re buying for the father or father-type figure in your life, books—in my totally unbiased opinion—always make a great gift. They’re personal, and they show something about both the gift giver and the recipient. And while a grilling book is a quintessential dad gift, books of all different genres make thoughtful Father’s Day presents.
In the hopes of providing inspiration for everyone, each of the Amazon Books editors has contributed a book they’d buy for a father or father-type figure in their lives.
The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List by Alana Newhouse
My father loves mysteries and thrillers, and he reads them so voraciously that he’s been known to start a book, only to discover it’s something he’s already read. There’s no buying my dad the Big Mystery of the Moment—if it’s out, he’s read it. So I tend to buy him books he wouldn’t otherwise buy himself, and usually about one of his other great passions: food. We are a family that talks about lunch while we eat breakfast, and in this period when our dining and travel choices are somewhat limited, food daydreams seem especially important. This year, I’m gifting him The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List by Alana Newhouse. Food has always featured prominently in my relationship with my dad, whether it’s been trips to the Jewish deli to eat pickled green tomatoes from the big jar on the deli counter, or father-daughter “dates” to an Italian restaurant called the Pleasure Bar where I learned to love salads with a hefty dose of ground pepper, which was followed by a trip to the bookstore where I was allowed to pick out as many books as I could carry. He’s been known to drive seven hours just to share lunch with me. When my father wants to let me know he’s thinking of me, he doesn’t send flowers, he sends me chocolate and cinnamon babka from Zabar’s in New York. So, Dad, even though I won’t be able to give you that hug you want for Father’s Day this year, I’m thinking of you. —Sarah Gelman
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Truth be told, my Pops wasn’t a big fan of reading. More likely, he just didn’t take the time to find the right book. One thing he did love, however, was planes and flying. After he passed away we found a valid pilot’s license tucked extra snuggly in his wallet. He had been flying on the sly after reassuring my mom that he had given up what she deemed a potentially dangerous hobby once they had kids. (We all smiled wide at the discovery, including my mom.) If he were here today I’d gift him The Wright Brothers, penned by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough. Both an homage to big dreams and the courage and ingenuity it takes to realize them, and a page-turning portrait of two bicycle mechanics who pulled off one of the most extraordinary feats in aviation history, The Wright Brothers is the right choice for the curious and adventurous dad in your life. —Erin Kodicek
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
While Deacon King Kong doesn’t necessarily address issues of fatherhood, it’s definitely what I’m getting my dad this year. Why? Because it zips. And there’s nothing like reading the work of a literary master. The novel evolves around “the Cause,” a Brooklyn project with larger-than-life personalities. You’ve got Sportcoat, a drunken deacon of the church who has just lost his wife; his best friend, Sausage, who tends to the boiler of the projects; Deems, a young baseball phenom whose life is now spent by the flagpole, dealing drugs; a white cop; an Italian named Elephante...well, you get the idea. When a shooting happens at the flagpole, it sets off a chain reaction, igniting a web of drug wars, backdoor dealings with mobsters, and church brawls that demonstrate just how vital yet fragile communities can be. Deacon King Kong tells the fictional story of one Brooklyn project, but in so doing tells a broader story of race and religion, getting by and getting out, and how grudges and alliances become embedded in the foundations of our neighborhoods.—Al Woodworth
Epic Bike Rides of the Americas by Lonely Planet
If you’ve got a dad who regularly suits up in spandex and hits the road for a bike ride, this book is a winner. Covering 200 rides in North and South America, Epic Bike Rides of the Americas can serve as inspirational vacation planner, armchair travel read, or get-out-and-go guide. There’s plenty of variety here, for long treks off the beaten path or shorter urban adventures. Whether Dad might like the Colorado Beer Ride or something more exotic like exploring Cuba’s Southern Rollercoaster, this book offers plenty of ideas, photos, and entertainment. —Seira Wilson
The traditional book gift for dads during this auspicious day is a history book or a sports book. As a reader of both, I found—as I pondered what book to recommend—that I kept thinking about the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner for General Nonfiction. That book is Gilbert King’s Devil in the Grove, and it is most certainly a history book. Devil in the Grove is the richly detailed, absolutely riveting story of Thurgood Marshall—before he argued Brown v. Board of Education and before he took a spot on the Supreme Court himself—as he journeyed down to Florida to defend one of the “Groveland Four,” four boys who had been framed for the rape of a 17-year-old white girl. Given the circumstances in Lake County in 1949, the trip was judged by almost everyone to be suicidal. But you don’t become the most important lawyer in the 20th century by staying home and ignoring injustice. This is an exceptional book about an exceptional man, and it reads like a Southern Gothic tale. —Chris Schluep
The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler
Forty years ago, fans met Yoda, Lando Calrissian, and Boba Fett for the first time and witnessed a romantic clinch between a princess and a scoundrel as well as a kiss that, when watched again, makes viewers uncomfortably look away. (Storytelling genius!) This photo-heavy book about The Empire Strikes Back goes behind the scenes and deep into the Lucasfilm Archives, revealing what went into creating this iconic film. Featuring the most shocking declaration of parentage by the galaxy’s worst father, this is a great gift for a nerd-tastic dad with a sense of humor. —Adrian Liang
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino
As a sales rep, one of my favorite books I ever sold was Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino. I’m certain 50% of the sales I made were done just to get me to stop tearing up over how much I loved this simple, loving ode to the father-child relationship. It’s the story of a father and son who have a ritual: every Friday they stroll through their neighborhood (Brooklyn, as I recall) and take in the sights and the sounds as they head to a breakfast of pancakes at their local diner. It still makes me think of my dad, who loved nothing more than the company of his kids, even just while doing something mundane, like running an errand. In this era of digital distraction, it’s also a reminder that the simple, analog pleasures of spending time together are still the best. —Vannessa Cronin
The Amazon Books editors recommend books on history, food, sports, movies, and more for all kinds of dads.