Hey, everyone! It’s Father’s Day on the 19th of June. Hope you didn’t forget or anything. Now, some might say that Father’s Day only exists for men’s’ gift sellers, totally not like Turnaround, to cynically boost their sales a convenient six months after Christmas. But whatever. Dads love books all year round. And yours is probably going to like at least one of these.
A general thing I’ve noticed about dads is that they love seeing themselves as defiantly swimming against the prevailing currents of modern society (mostly modern society as defined by their children). If this sounds like your dad, why not introduce him to this Who’s Who alternative canon of marginalized autodidactic paint-slinging loners who followed their own outrageous, sometimes catastrophic visions to the heights of fame or the depths of Hell. Your dad and his daring refusal to use a smartphone will definitely relate.
This lovely memoir by P.J. Kavanagh, the poet, lecturer, actor, broadcaster and columnist (not to be confused with the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh), will take your dad back to being a young man. It’s had a cult following since its original publication in 1966, and has just been reprinted in the wake of Kavanagh’s 2015 death. As Sarah wrote in her blog post, it’s “a truly masculine depiction of how a man is capable of giving himself entirely to someone else”. Brownie points all round if your mum catches him reading it. N’awww.
I might be getting a bit stereotypical here – I totally am – but you can’t leave a book solely about bourbon off a dad list. And it’s really pretty good, crackling with attitude and commentary about taste, choice, and delusion, all while celebrating a classic American drink and its makers. It follows the story of American whiskey all the way from the Civil War to the present day revival of interest. A way to help explain to your dad why those hipsters are buying the same booze as him.
Who’s more beloved of dads of a certain age than Lou Reed? Pick up this for the dad who posted Perfect Day and a lengthy, embarrassing tribute on Facebook when Lou died. Here, Reed oscillates between losing patience with his interviewers, and sharing profound observations on the human experience. The rest of the books in the Last Interview series are all equally good and equally populated by people your dad probably likes. Just make sure your dad’s ready to reflect on his own mortality a little first.
If the epidemic of MAMiLs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra, obv) across the countryside is any indication, cycling is a pastime beloved by thousands, if not millions, of dad-aged people. Bikenomics provides a surprising and compelling new perspective on the way we get around, discussing how cycling can be fun, build community, save us money and save the environment. Your dad and his pals will love discussing the scope of cycling’s economic impact at the local bike club pub quiz fundraiser.
Please don’t buy this for your dad.
And for the Turnaround dads:
Clara – Bien Cuit
Here’s one for my actual dad, who is really into baking bread (see, not all dads are terrible masculine stereotypes!). This one is proper coffee table-sized, with really nice design and gorgeous photos for each of the 50 bread recipes. Written by Brooklyn-based chef Zachary Golper, it also tells the story of his travels across North and South America to develop his own signature approach to bread. Both an homage to tradition and innovation, Golper recreates many iconic and multi-cultural breads for the home baker.
Sarah – Sound Man
If I were in the same country as my dad, I’d be giving him Glyn Johns’ Sound Man. Glyn Johns was the 1960s recording engineer behind some of the most iconic rock albums in history, working with The Stones, The Who, Zeppelin, The Eagles, Clapton and, like, everyone else who was making cool rock music at the time. My dad is the guy who got me into all kinds of cool rock ‘n’ roll when I was a kid, teaching me how to play a lot of the (easier) tunes on the guitar (I played Take it Easy a LOT), so I can’t think of a better book for him! (PS Dad – sorry I never send gifts!)
Heather – Homesweet Homegrown
A painfully typical choice, but my dad’s a project man, and last summer when I came back to Ireland for weekends here and there, I saw the overwhelming result of his inaugural season of vegetable gardening. So many vegetables. He eventually had to offload his produce onto the local restaurant, so even though I expect him to tone it down this year, I reckon he can always use a few more recipe ideas for the astonishing array of stuff he’s growing.
Jenn – Skyscraper
I’ve been buying my dad books about skyscrapers forever. Being an engineer, he really likes tall buildings. But what he probably likes less is opening another oblong-shaped gift to find Top 100 Skyscrapers or Top 750 Skyscrapers or Top 56,000 Skyscrapers – in 3D staring back at him (sorry dad). This year, to mix things up a bit, I’d probably choose Skyscraper by Faith Baldwin. Published by the Feminist Press, it’s part of their Women Write Pulp series and is about a woman in the 50s who lands the job of her dreams in a skyscraper and later refuses to choose between that or a man because why should she. Being as my dad taught me to be a warrior, I think it sounds relevant. And it has a skyscraper in it.
Tom – Under Manhattan
My Dad loves a good non-fiction yarn, preferably involving some kind of engineering (easy, right?). So I reckon World Editions’ Under Manhattan would suit him; an exploration of Manhattan’s vast underground network of transport tunnels (both abandoned and in use), it’s the perfect combination of travelogue, fact-splurge and philosophical musing. Fortunately, because his birthday and Father’s Day are within a week of each other, I can usually get away with just a card! On an unrelated note: does anyone know where I can find engine-related greetings cards.
Post by Clara
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