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Essential Reading
Father’s Day: Essential Reading



Although we're proudly Mama-centric around here, we still recognize the importance that fathers hold in our lives. In honor of Father's Day we've compiled a list of our favorite books that revolve around dear old dad.

Boycott tacky ties and golf shwag! Encourage others to buy something a little different for the big guy this year: download the list here and bring it to your favorite book store!!

Shari MacDonald Strong, Senior Editor and Columnist, writes "I'd recommend The Brothers K by David James Duncan for every Essential Reading list, if I could, but there's no better time to recommend it than at Father's Day. The story of minor league ball-player "Papa Toe" Chance, his Seventh Day Adventist wife, and their six children (some of the most intriguing characters I've met in literature), The Brothers K is a lush exploration of baseball (a topic I never much cared about, but which serves here as both powerful setting and metaphor), family, love, society, church/religion, and war. It's also the most gorgeously written book I've ever read. David James Duncan is a master."

Columnist Susan Ito, adds "Oh, my favorite hands-down father themed (or ANY themed) book would have to be Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. It's essentially a love letter from a father to his young son."

Reviews Editor and Columnist, Rebecca Kaminsky, shares "I loved The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood. It was probably the most moving memoir I've read since I can remember. It's told from the perspective of a man in his 30's whose father shows up on his doorstep one day and reveals his past as a holocaust survivor. And his (the father's) story is unbelievable. Father and son set out on a search for the family his father lost when he was four."

Caroline Grant, Senior Editor and Columnist, raves: "I cannot stop thinking about Brooks Hansen's new memoir, The Brotherhood of Joseph: A Father's Memoir of Infertility and Adoption in the 21st Century. Hansen, a novelist, writes a page-turner about the 6 year journey he and his wife endured -- from Manhattan fertility clinics to a children's hospital in Siberia -- to start their family. His writing is graceful and honest, sometimes dryly funny, sometimes quietly reflective. The book is essential reading for anybody navigating the complicated terrain of fertility treatment and adoption today, or anybody interested in a compelling, passionate account of one couple's struggle to become parents."

Reviews Editor Jen Lawrence admits, "While I read widely about fictionalized mothers, I rarely pick up anything that considers the father as more than a slightly annoying afterthought. Recently, however, I read Tony Parson's Man and Boy. The book is about a father whose drunken one-might stand causes his wife to pack up and move to Japan to pursue a career opportunity, leaving him to raise their four year old son. I found the underlying premise wobbly but that did not take away from an engaging, if slightly sentimental, read. Knowing that the author received sole custody of his son after his divorce, gave the book added interest. While I imagine Parsons has been criticized for his rather flat female characters (no flatter, I might point out, than male characters in most of the books lumped under the very broad category of 'chick-lit'), his portrayal of a fully developed father is commendable."

Stephanie Hunt, Columns Editor and Columnist, reports "Cormac McCarthy's The Road is one of the most haunting books I've read, yet amidst the unimaginably bleak devastation, the father character, and the father-son relationship, is sheer beauty. I'd also have to give a nod to To Kill a Mockingbird. Didn't we all fantasize that Atticus Finch was our dad?"

Christina Speed, E-Zine Co-Editor, offers "A clear look into fatherhood, and also being a father figure is touchingly portrayed in Kent Haruf's Plainsong. This story had me thinking about the difficulty some fathers have finding, then exposing their soft underbellies with their children. Each time I've read and reread this title it has managed to bring my emotions to the brim."

Sarah Raleigh Kilts, Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant, submits two titles for all ages. "Our family just finished reading aloud the chapter book (Newberry Honor winner), Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary. Although Ramona Quimby is well known for her hilarious adventurous, in this book we learn that being a second grader isn't all fun and games. When her father unexpectedly loses his job we witness how his unemployment and subsequent job searching affect the entire family -- especially 7 year old Ramona. While tackling serious subjects Cleary manages to keep the book sweet and funny. It's a wonderfully real portrayal of a young girl's relationship with her father. I also have to give a very special mention to one of the most beloved board books in our home -- the unconventional gem The Daddy Book, by Todd Parr. I gave it to my husband as a father's day gift five years ago; reading it to our daughter still brings tears to his eyes."




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