Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic was a Holiday Gift Guide freebie and I’m doing 10 books that are great for dads because they are honestly the hardest people to shop for. I can only buy my dad some tools or a giftcard to guitar center so many times. Last year I think it was a shovel and a gift card, nothing says love like, “please shovel my car out every morning.” So here are some books that I think all dads would love as a gift (and some that were on his goodreads to-read list because we all need some help every once in awhile).
The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock
“It is 1917, in that sliver of border land that divides Georgia from Alabama. Dispossessed farmer Pearl Jewett ekes out a hardscrabble existence with his three young sons: Cane (the eldest; handsome; intelligent); Cob (short; heavy set; a bit slow); and Chimney (the youngest; thin; ill-tempered). Several hundred miles away in southern Ohio, a farmer by the name of Ellsworth Fiddler lives with his son, Eddie, and his wife, Eula. After Ellsworth is swindled out of his family’s entire fortune, his life is put on a surprising, unforgettable, and violent trajectory that will directly lead him to cross paths with the Jewetts. No good can come of it. Or can it?”
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family. With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens.”
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
“Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can’t catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville’s Bartleby.”
Nonfiction – Memoir
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
“At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back.”
I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever by Ben Blatt, Eric Brewster
“Ben, a sports analytics wizard, loves baseball. Eric, his best friend, hates it. But when Ben writes an algorithm for the optimal baseball road trip, an impossible dream of every pitch of 30 games in 30 stadiums in 30 days, who will he call on to take shifts behind the wheel, especially when those shifts will include nineteen hours straight from Phoenix to Kansas City? Eric, of course. Will Eric regret it? You might ask, Are Dodger Dogs the same thing as Fenway Franks? As Ben and Eric can now attest, most definitely.”
The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch by Jonathan Gottschall
“When a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym moves in across the street from his office, Jonathan Gottschall sees a challenge, and an opportunity. Pushing forty, out of shape, and disenchanted with his job as an adjunct English professor, part of him yearns to cross the street and join up. The other part is terrified. Gottschall eventually works up his nerve, and starts training for a real cage fight. He’s fighting not only as a personal test but also to answer questions that have intrigued him for years: Why do men fight? And why do so many seemingly decent people like to watch?”
“From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream.”
Nonfiction – Literary Journalism (Or Everything Else)
Roman Honor: The Fire in the Bones by Carlin A. Barton
“This book is an attempt to coax Roman history closer to the bone, to the breath and matter of the living being. Drawing from a remarkable array of ancient and modern sources, Carlin Barton offers the most complex understanding to date of the emotional and spiritual life of the ancient Romans. Her provocative and original inquiry focuses on the sentiments of honor that shaped the Romans’ sense of themselves and their society. Speaking directly to the concerns and curiosities of the contemporary reader, Barton brings Roman society to life, elucidating the complex relation between the inner life of its citizens and its social fabric.” (I found this marked on my dad’s goodreads page)
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen
“Ferdinand Magellan’s daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, prize-winning biographer and journalist Laurence Bergreen entwines a variety of candid, firsthand accounts, bringing to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed both the way explorers would henceforth navigate the oceans and history itself.”
“Renowned for its pristine beaches and celebrity inhabitants, Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most exclusive destinations in America. But each September, after the tourists clear out, thousands of fishermen take back the beaches to compete in the Vineyard’s annual fishing derby, a monthlong contest that pits plumbers against investment bankers, schoolkids against senior citizens, and natives against newcomers in a round-the-clock hunt for a great fish. Island immortality is at stake, and history has proven that anyone can win it: teenage girls, dozing fishermen, complete amateurs. In The Big One, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Kinney takes readers behind the scenes at the derby to chronicle thirty-five days of fish-addled hope and heartbreak.”
So what books are you buying as gifts this holiday season? Also, what do you buy boys just in general, I’m asking for a friend.