Father’s day can be a complicated day for people so sometimes it’s easier to leave the personal and find solace in books. Below I compiled a few books that either touch upon the idea of fathers and fatherhood, or delves deep into the father-daughter / father-son relationship. Sometimes words are easier than relationships and here are a few that seem to get it right, flaws and all.
The Night of the Gun by David Carr
David Carr meant a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, he was a recovered drug addict and cancer survivor. For others, he was the well-known, well-respected New York Times columnist. For still others, he transcended all of this. Carr was intelligent, blunt, skeptical, and honest. His memoir, published in 2008, is an excavation of past transgressions, the memories lost of drugs and alcohol, and the blooming of his unstoppable love for his daughters. The Night of the Gun is tough to read at points (Carr shamefully admits to hitting his fair share of women) and he is not excused from his mistakes (which were often taken out onto others). However, it is an honest, frank portrayal of flawed fatherhood. Sometimes you don’t want syrupy tributes, you want the truth.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Allison Bechdel
Allison Bechdel’s graphic memoir outlines the tenuous, distant relationship with her father. For her entire life, her father – the town funeral director and high-school English teacher – had also been a closeted homosexual. Shortly after Bechdel discovered this, her father died and left her with so many unanswered questions about the man who had always been an enigma. The book, which is littered with literary allusions, explores gender roles, sexual orientation, and the way our parents inform our lives even as they remain mysteries to us. Fun Home is smart and upsetting and deeply personal. There’s an unflinching honesty that makes me want to look away, but asks that I don’t. So I don’t.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I have a feeling not many people would classify Doerr’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel as a novel about fathers because it’s not. It’s a book about war and hate and fear and love and hopelessness and justice and healing and fathers. It’s about all of those things. Fathers who create worlds for their children; fathers who are absent; fathers who are dead; fathers who disappear; fathers who return; men who become fathers in times of war. Simultaneously set in Germany and Nazi-occupied France, the novel shows us all the ways fathers can illuminate our lives but especially in times of darkness.
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What would you recommend for father’s day themed books? What’s your favorite father’s-centric book? Have you read any of the above?