Books for Dad on Father’s Day

Father’s Day, to me, is yet another opportunity to remind children that dads are difficult to find gifts for. Once you move beyond the hand-print art, or yet another tie from a teenager, it’s time to find something… well, if not better, than at least different. This is not to say that all dads are impossible to buy for. Sometimes, another BBQ brush or kitchen tool or garden hose is just what he needed mid-June. Sometimes there is a newly released CD that he would like, or a tie that seriously would look good (for real!). My go-to though is a book. A book from an independent bookstore to support local, a book to teach someone something or promote a novel thought, a book to look pretty on the coffee table instead of flowers that always die. There’s nothing bad about a book, even if the book is bad.

Here are just a few of my book choices for dads I know. Links are to Goodreads, please buy at your local bookstore!

Classic: One or all of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien cannot go amiss. Dads can read alone, read aloud to young ones, or be read to by children who are no longer so little. And if you get bored, calling dad “Gandalf the Grey” is guaranteed to get a reaction.

Travel: The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada will make any family want to hit the road. And what dad doesn’t want to have the best road trip ideas in the house?


Backwoods Photography: For the dad who dreams of living in the woods, or dreams of never living in the woods and just looking at pictures of other people living in the woods, we bring you Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zach Klein.

Fiction: For a good example of fatherly traits and a story easy enough to read at the beach, try anything by John Irving. The Cider House Rules or The Hotel New Hampshire are both excellent choices.

For the dad with daughters, or just dads in general: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author brings her TEDx talk about feminism in the 21st century to households everywhere. We Should All Be Feminists is what it says it is, and it’s short enough to make even the most reluctant feminist learn just a little more.


Humour Meets Science: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe is as straightforward as the title implies. A NASA scientist offers serious answers backed by science to seemingly ridiculous hypothetical questions. For the dad who has everything, and still wants to know more.

Escapism meets Humour: Fellow Canadian Will Ferguson made the ill-fated decision to hike the Ulster Way, a meandering path through Northern Ireland. Beyond Belfast: A 560 Mile Journey Across Northern Ireland on Sore Feet is his travel journal,  including tales from the trail of bed bugs, loneliness, wet boots, and more rain than he’d bargained for. These humorous stories from the Emerald Isle will make Dad want to travel, so long as it’s not a voyage by foot!

Any dads out there get a really good book in past years? Any other favourite picks for Father’s Day? Share your favourite book gift in the comments, on Facebook, or tweet us @OneRedPhoneBox!



Reading Wrap Up {April}

Each month, I’ll be featuring the books I purchased that month, and the ones I read (or started reading and didn’t manage to finish because there are other things to do in life and sometimes – although reading is awesome – they don’t measure up and sometimes you need to take out the garbage/attend a class/write a paper/make a grilled cheese/see the outdoors).

I also track my reading selections and to be read list on a site called Goodreads. You can find my book lists on Goodreads here, and feel free to follow along there too.

Clicking on the book title will bring you to Goodreads as well. I know you can buy books at Amazon and Chapters and all those megastores, and I could make it easy for you and send you there. But that’s boring. Support your independent new and used bookstores. They love you, and we need to show them the love too.

Books Bought


Lit: A Memoir – Mary Karr

Favourite quote so far: “Blameless, the Greek translators call it. That’s what Odysseus wished for his son, Telemachus: to live guilt free. As a teenager myself, reading how Odysseus boffed witches and fought monsters, I inked the word blameless on the bottom of my tennis shoe. And my favorite part was always when he came home after decades and no one knew him.”


Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books – Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby, author of About a Boy and most recently, Juliet, Naked, takes readers into ten years of his book-loving habits from 2003-2013. A giant to-be-read list and critique all in one.


13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl – Mona Awad

Mona Awad, a Canadian author and a new voice in fiction, brings the story of Lizzie’s efforts to get thin, counting calories, miles and pounds. From the back cover: “Mona Awad skewers our body image-obsessed culture, and at the same time delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform.”

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Lydia Davis offers stories entitled such things as “How Shall I Mourn Them?”, “How She Could Not Drive” and “We Miss You: A Study of Get-Well Letters from a Class of Fourth-Graders”.

Books Read


Born Weird – Andrew Kaufman

Set in Canada (finally!), this unusual book about family is just light enough to read between other things, but deep enough to feel like you’ve read something worthwhile.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (unfinished)

Loving this so far, but it is a major commitment. Not for the faint of heart, nor the easily saddened, this tale of four friends is gripping, as each character is (thus far) described in huge detail.


The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

This was a cute read, easy and fun and perfect for when you need a break between other less enjoyable activities. Don Tillman, the leading man, is in need of a wife, and Rosie is looking (or not looking, really) for love. The two of them have practically nothing in common, and yet this is truly a love story. A great spring read.

The Mountain and the Valley- Ernest Buckler (unfinished)

This is a widely acclaimed novel is set in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, and I was hopeful that I could love it. The writing is dense and beautiful, almost poetic, and although Buckler evokes all the right feelings of the Valley, the story leaves something to be desired. I’m really hoping the second half picks it up a little, because I do want to like it.

What have you been reading- or buying – this month?

challenging readings, and a reading challenge

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


I recently started following Anne Bogel’s blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, a hub for all things literature and wordy. From what I can tell, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s annual reading challenge is THE THING in the book-loving world, and I can see why.

Each new year, a new reading challenge is posted. The list includes 12 categories of books, allowing readers to pick their own fiction and non-fiction reads for the year, but creating varied choices. This year’s list included ‘A book that was banned at some point,’ ‘a book that was published this year’ and ‘a book you should have read in school.’

This year, I decided I would try out this new-fangled reading challenge thing (cause I was clearly bored). Even though in classes we are ready such volumes as Dante’s Divine Comedy, Augustine’s Confessions, and Heidegger’s Being and Time, it’s important to balance/distract oneself from those challenging readings with some lighter, just-for-fun books.

Here are my picks for this year’s challenge:

yourheartA book published this year

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

I have now seen this novel mentioned on five different must-read lists in three weeks, and so with very little known about the content, it’s making my shelf this year. Seven characters and a political protest, with a punchy title and eye-catching cover – sounds like a winner.

A book you can finish in a day

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells Yonotthatkindofgirl.jpgu What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

This is not to say that the content is so straightforward it should be read in a day, but Dunham’s readable prose makes it such that I could devour it in a day. I know she’s not for everyone, but I’m a fan of Lena and her television show Girls, and have high hopes for this one.

A book you’ve been meaning to read

With or Without God by Gretta Vosper

An atheist minster, a much talked-about non-fiction work, and a religious controversy, all in one? Yes please.

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gaybadfeminist

With a title like that, it’s hard to resist. This one was recommended to me by Mitzi at Box of Delights in Wolfville, NS (perhaps a hint? should I be insulted? Who knows), though it would have made my list anyway. I spent way too long standing in a bookstore aisle trying to read this without buying it, and ended up not finishing it, nor making a purchase, but was hooked by this collection of essays highlighting issues of race, culture, sex, and of course, feminism.

A book you should have read in school

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

I had a strange collection of books foist upon me in middle and high school, none of which I would ever classify as a ‘classic.’ As a result, I missed The Catcher in the Rye (though I did read King Dork, the apparent modern-day version, which I’m told is much funnier than Salinger’s classic). Time to catch up!

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, or BFFsophiesworld

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Since I’m already studying philosophy, this one seems a bit redundant. But if J tells me about it anymore I’ll go crazy. So I’m giving in and reading about Sophie and her world, and the journey she takes through the history of philosophy, as she attempts to discover who she is and how things came to be.

A book published before you were born

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway

There really is no explanation required for Hemmingway, but this one has been on my ‘To Be Read’ list for too long, and the reading challenge has prompted me to finally get to it. The list of books that were published before I was born is huge, so I narrowed it using my own list of things I wanted to read anyway. Any book referred to as “at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise” must be worth reading, at least once.

A book you own but have never read 

thewaythecrowfliesThe Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald

I read MacDonald’s tome, Fall on Your Knees, a number of years ago, and loved it. I also read her recent novelAdult Onset and found it more than a little whiny. So although the content of this one, and questions of human morality, truth, and murder, was drawing me in, I was tainted by MacDonald’s newer work. It is such a huge book though, and takes up so much room on my shelf, it was calling to me. Hopefully this one returns to her former style, excellent story-telling, and topics that remain relevant across decades.

A book you previously abandoned

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Yes, also a classic. No, I didn’t read this one in school either. Yes, I have tried, and yes I get the gist and all the references to Big Brother. Although I’m not a fan of dystopian fiction, thank you Reading Challenge for forcing me to finally finish it.

A book that intimidates you

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth austerity

I bought Austerity for an introductory politics class in my first year of university, and although we were definitely supposed to read all of it, I fell asleep about ten pages into this dry (but important!) text. The language and content are intimidating though, as my understanding of economics is nil, and Blyth zips through topics at top-speed. Part economics, part politics, and part political philosophy and theory, Blyth highlights the many problems with government austerity, and makes the case for spending rather than saving, supplementing rather than restricting, and finding the actual, often more complicated, source of a problem instead of blaming the obvious ones.

A book that was banned at some point

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Banned books are my favourites, but having already read a great many (I don’t know what that says about my reading habits…) I had to dig a little deeper for this one. I’ve never been tainted by seeing the movie, and with all the talk of mental health issues in the media, this seems like an appropriate choice.

A book you’ve already read at least once

Beatrice and Virgil – Yann Martel beatriceandvirgil

I am a hard core Yann Martel fan. His letters to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlighting books the PM ought to read in order to govern our country have a special place on my bedside table. Although the movie of Life of Pi made me nauseous, I’ve read the book at least three times. Beatrice and Virgil is less-known than Pi, but my studies of Dante, his great love Beatrice, and Virgil, his guide through the circles of Hell, will hopefully supplement my re-reading of this much-discussed novel.

What’s on your to-be-read list this year? Any other MMD Reading Challenge participants out there? Let us know on Facebook, or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!