10 Literary Gifts for 10 Literary Dads
Or, a Book for Atticus
In case you hadn’t been fully alerted by all of the generally paternal content this week, this Sunday is Father’s Day, and if you’re someone for whom this is a relevant holiday, you should probably call your dad. Maybe even give him a gift! But what kind of gift should you give him? Yes, yes, a book, of course, but which book? Well, it all depends on what kind of dad you’ve got. So, to help you out, here’s a list of ten literary fathers to whom you can compare your own, with information about which book you should give that kind of dad, if you’re into that kind of thing.
If your dad most closely resembles: Atticus Finch, of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
That is: The Best Dad of All Time, pinnacle of reason and goodness, respectful, polite, and secretly racist.
This Father’s Day, give him: Kindred, by Octavia Butler, which is about justice, internal strength, and sacrificing yourself for others, and also makes a pretty solid argument against that last thing.
If your dad most closely resembles: Yeong-hye’s father, of The Vegetarian, by Han Kang.
That is: Determined to force you to conform to his expectations of you, bizarrely into meat.
This Father’s Day, give him: The Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen, the most classic of gently-counterculture, veggie-friendly cookbooks, and guaranteed to charm.
If your dad most closely resembles: Himself, aka James Incandenza, of Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace.
That is: An experimental filmmaker, heavy drinker, suicidal, obsessive, possibly responsible for the end of the world, runs a tennis school.
This Father’s Day, give him: Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville, a lesson in the dangers of monomania.
If your dad most closely resembles: Aloysius “Al” Binewski, of Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn.
That is: The owner of a traveling freak show made up of his own experimentally-modified children.
This Father’s Day, give him: The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner, to prove you don’t have to dose your wife with arsenic and amphetamines to get yourself a truly dysfunctional family.
If your dad most closely resembles: Prospero, of The Tempest, by William Shakespeare.
That is: An overprotective wizard.
This Father’s Day, give him: Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit, as a place to start.
If your dad most closely resembles: The Man, of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
That is: Completely focused on your survival.
This Father’s Day, give him: Well, you probably can’t get him to read anything, to be honest, but in this case, I recommend Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, to reassure him that everything will be all right.
If your dad most closely resembles: José Arcadio Buendía, of One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez.
That is: A dreamer, an inventor, an explorer, and the founder of a magical kingdom.
This Father’s Day, give him: Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, the best book of architectural dreaming ever written.
If your dad most closely resembles: Apollo, of The Changeling, by Victor LaValle
That is: Desperately trying to be a good father in the most extreme and surreal of circumstances.
This Father’s Day, give him: The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, because he’s actually doing better than most.
If your dad most closely resembles: Jack Torrance, of The Shining, by Stephen King.
That is: A tortured artist—like super tortured.
This Father’s Day, give him: On Writing, by Stephen King, for the spooky symmetry, obviously, and also because King has a very pleasant, torture-free approach to writing that includes advice like: “Try any goddam thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, toss it.”
If your dad most closely resembles: Mr. Bennet, of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
That is: Witty but solitary, cynical but kind, or as Austen puts it, “so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humor, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.”
This Father’s Day, give him: Your own favorite novel. You know you’re his favorite child, after all.