For your shopping pleasure, here’s a list of books for papa this season, because he probably doesn’t want that chick lit book you’re trying to re-gift. I know not all dads are exactly like mine – whose interests include cars, e-bay, ping pong and Conrad Black – so I’ve generated twelve books for twelve different kind of dads. Is yours the type who’s into composting or the type who’s into bloody murder on Yorkshire moors?
For the dad who gave you wise, unconventional life lessons during that stage where you smoked weed in the park every afternoon and dated a bunch of lowlifes: The Film Club: A True Story of Father and Son by David Gilmour. When David Gilmour’s son is struggling with life, Gilmour lets him drop out of school on the condition that he partakes in a film club with his dad three times a week. This frank account shares how the club worked and what both son and dad gained from it.
I have a theory that pretty much every dad wants to be Eric Clapton, therefore, this book is for every dad: Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton. Hear the details about how Eric stole George Harrison’s wife, how he got over his addictions and his friendships with the major music icons of our age.
For the dad who thinks with the left side of his brain. Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to be Smart, by Ian Ayres. If your dad is a stockbroker, accountant, math teacher or statistician he’ll love this. Basically, it’s a book that argues that mathematical equations can solve everything. Kind of similar to Freakonomics, mind boggling facts and pop culture sensitive. Probably not the best gift, though, for an emotionally fragile mother going through menopause.
For the dad who immigrated to Canada and left unresolved issues in his homeland or, alternatively, the dad who likes excellent fiction: The Assassin’s Song by M.G. Vassanji. Karsan Dargawalla rejects his 800 year old inherited responsibility of being the protector of the Shrine of the Wanderer, leaves India and eventually settles as a professor in Vancouver. Thirty years later he returns to India where he must deal with the betrayal he made against his family and community.
For the dad who is growing a beard and getting a bit rotund about the waist: Santa Claus A Biography by Gerry Bowler. Given that your dad probably pretended to be him for fourteen years, you’d think he’d be interested in reading his biography. Find out about where the Santa legend developed from and how he has been represented historically and internationally.
For the dad who loves Stephen Colbert: I Am America (And So Can You) by Stephen Colbert. No explanation necessary.
For the dad who likes nothing better than blood oozing from wounds on the Yorkshire moors: Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson. Toronto’s high holiness of mystery writing returns with his renowned sleuth Inspector Banks. This time the novel begins with a quadriplegic woman murdered on a cliff and DI Annie Cabbot waking up next to a man she hardly recognizes. Gasp!!
For the dad who watches BBC News or reads The Economist: What is the What by Dave Eggers. This novel offers a portrait of a Lost Boy refugee of the Second Sudanese War, Valentino. Based on a true story, Valentino shares memories of his village’s devastation, his harrowing march to safety and how he emigrated to the U.S. A must read for any dad with a compassionate interest in international affairs.
For the dad who spends Sunday afternoon in front of the TV with a tub of chicken wings and his Hulk Hogan figurine: Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart. Apparently this autobiography, with its insight into the bizarro world of wrestling is actually pretty well written and bursting with fascinating details about his days in a stampede wrestling show and the behind the scenes action of the WWE.
For the dad who composts regularly and doesn’t live in Calgary: Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (and Doesn’t Seem to Care) by William Marsden. This book was given to all the delegates and state leaders at the Bali conference on climate change. Don’t you think your dad deserves it too?
For the Anglophile dad who quotes Winston Churchill and eats mince pies: The Thames Sacred River by Peter Ackroyd. London’s biographer returns with a gorgeous book on the Thames, bursting with Elizabethan woodcuts and maps. If papa likes to glean interesting and wacky historical anecdotes for use in conversation at cocktail parties, this will suit him this season.
For the dad who reads Wall Street Journal and swears like a sailor when the TSX goes down: Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan. If stockbrokers were 11 year-old-girls they’d put posters of Alan Greenspan on their bedroom walls. Some may not agree with his policies, but he’s still an icon who has played an incomparably pivotal role in the markets of the past twenty years.