Father’s Day shopping still not done? Don’t worry – I have just thing for bookish dads.
Of course you can go to the bookstore and grab the most likely thing from the “For Father’s Day” table. But here’s a chance to put a little extra effort into your gift: pairings of fiction and non-fiction double Dad’s reading and perhaps expand his horizons a little.
News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, features a protagonist who travels post-Civil War Texas reading newspapers to gatherings of townspeople. Then he’s asked to return a young woman who was captured during an Indian raid as a child to her family. The novel was a finalist for the National Book Award. The non-fiction companion to this novel I suggest is Tomlinson Hill, by journalist Chris Tomlinson. He traces the history of his family – both white and black, which includes former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson – in Texas after the Civil War.
Hue: 1968 is the latest work of non-fiction from Mark Bowden, of Blackhawk Down fame. It chronicles a turning point in the Vietnam War. It was just released this month. I’d pair it with The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, which I think is the best work of fiction about that war. It’s a set of interlocking stories, not a true novel. It’s simply one of my favorite books, period, and I’ve recommended it to every book club I’ve ever joined.
David Grann’s book Killers of the Flower Moon uncovers new details about a series of murders on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma in the 1920s. Readers also get a lot of insight into the birth of the FBI. It’s a serious book about an appalling period in history. The Hot Kid, by Elmore Leonard, is a crime novel by one of the best in the business set in 1920s Oklahoma. The setting’s a match, but the tone should provide a nice contrast to Grann’s book.
My dad got Killers of the Flower Moon for his birthday this year.
We can’t have a list of Father’s Day books without a baseball entry. For non-fiction, I suggest Jonathan Eig’s excellent Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig. You could choose one of the classic baseball novels as an accompaniment, but my pick is Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, about a college baseball player. (Note: This novel contains a same-sex relationship. Is your dad enough of a grownup to handle that?)
*In the interest of full disclosure: Chris Tomlinson and I met at the SMU Tables of Content book event a couple years ago. But I’d already read his book and decided it was good before meeting him. Jon Eig and I worked together at The Dallas Morning News many years ago and he’s a really nice guy. Also, his books are very good.
- What’s on My Bookshelf
- Great Books about the Great War