As a disclaimer, all three books are nonfiction books that read like novels. This is because we think dads know best what they want to read as a novel, and we're not going to tell you what you should get him to read.
1. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
This is especially for the northwest dad. It is the story of the UW rowing team and the 1936 Berlin Olympics. What is wonderful about this story is that, as sons of the Northwest, this rowing team is made of sons of loggers, farmers, shipyard works, who go on to beat elite east coast teams and head to the Nazi Germany for the 1936 Olympics.
Of the nonfiction books that are making waves (so to speak), this one is a real hit. So far, all who have read it have come into the shop praising the book—there has been no dissent. If Daniel James Brown's book was running for president, it would be a landslide.
2. Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntye
This is the stranger-than-fiction true story of a British intelligence scheme to float a dead man onto the shores of Spain and fool the Nazis into believing the Allied invasion of Sicily would not happen in Sicily. It succeeded (only just), and the plan helped save the lives of millions of Allied soldiers.
Let me just spend a little more time on this book: the dead man who was floated onto shore was a poverty-stricken Welshman who had serious mental problems and may or may not have poisoned himself with rat poison. In any case, his body became the crucible for an incredibly complex plan that ultimate saved lives. It is remarkable alone that the British intelligence could pull this off, but it is surreal to think that a man, who while living had very little discernible purpose, could in his death become an instrument to save thousands. MacIntyre is not unaware of these existential concerns, and as a chronicler honors the man and the men who put the plan into action. A fascinating book.
3. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
Also a book that has been out for a few years (and if your dad has already read this one, I can also recommend his other books, Big Burn, and Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher), this won the National Book Award. A wonderful story of fantastic journalism, bringing out of the dark the darkest parts of the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression.
It is possible that when Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, about families leaving the dust bowl for California, American history followed as well. There is very little written about those that stayed behind, and how American thinking was shaped in those years and the years afterwards. Egan, as great a story-teller and journalist as ever, recreates those years and the people who struggled through them in rich and powerful prose.
These are the three books we'll recommend your father will be happy with. But there's more! Always there's more at our shop, and if these are hitting just right, we'll be happy to spend a little more time finding the right book for your dad for Father's Day. Come down at see us!
~ James, June 13th 2014