Fact: Dads are notoriously tricky to shop for. So when an entire holiday devoted to them comes around, we’re usually kind of at a loss for ideas. This year, though, we’re sticking to the good old-fashioned written word. Here are ten new books that we’re sure your dad will actually want to read, whether he loves history, nature, music or just throwing a sizzling steak on the grill.
The Pioneers by David McCullough
Beloved author David McCullough has a knack for making history come alive (and if you don’t trust us, trust the Pulitzer committee—he’s won the big prize twice). In his new book, he tackles the settling of the Northwest Territory, aka the vast area now known as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, in the late 18th century. It’s a dramatic tale of exploration and forging new frontiers, and we bet Midwestern dads in particular will get a kick out of reading about their homeland.
Franklin Steak by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
If there’s anyone who knows red meat, it’s Aaron Franklin, owner of Austin’s famous Franklin Barbecue. But while his restaurant is all about brisket (smoked low and slow for hours), Franklin says that when he’s home, what he really loves to cook is steak. In this new cookbook, he shares all of his secrets—a must-have for any dad who loves to fire up the grill.
Songs of America by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw
Journalist and biographer Jon Meacham and country music star Tim McGraw might seem like an unlikely team. But with a Pulitzer Prize and a haul of Grammys between them (as well as a deeply shared love of their country), they’re also pretty well qualified to tackle the subject of their new book: the history of American music and its enduring role in our country’s history.
Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer
If your dad is the kind of guy who scans The New Yorker every week hoping he’ll catch a typo, this is the book for him. As Random House’s copy chief, Benjamin Dreyer sets the style (and all the grammatical rules) for the world’s most influential publisher, and in his first book, he’s sharing it with all of us. If that sounds unbearably dull, trust us, it’s not—Dreyer is a charming, snarky and often downright hilarious guide to his native tongue.
How to Build a Boat by Jonathan Gornall
Struck by the awesomeness of new fatherhood, Jonathan Gornall had an idea—he’d build a wooden boat for his baby daughter, and when it was done, they’d take an epic journey together. The only problem? Gornall had never built anything before in his life. His memoir is hilarious, sweet and just might bring a tear to your ol’ pop’s eye.
Pops by Michael Chabon
In 2016, the novelist Michael Chabon wrote an essay in GQ about accompanying his fashion-obsessed son to a runway show in Paris. Chabon didn’t exactly understand his son’s passion but wanted to, and the now-viral essay was a loving tribute to him. It’s collected here with six other essays about the weird and wonderful things that fathers do for their children (and vice versa).
Lake of the Ozarks by Bill Geist
If your dad is the type that likes to talk about “the good old days,” this warm and hilarious memoir is probably up his alley. CBS correspondent Bill Geist writes about his summers in high school and college working for the Arrowhead Lodge, a small vacation resort smack in the middle of the American Heartland.
Ballpark: Baseball in the American City by Paul Goldberger
There are plenty of gorgeous shots of your dad’s favorite ballpark in here, but this is also much more than a coffee-table book. The renowned architectural critic Paul Goldberger guides readers through the history of the American ballpark and how each stadium says something about the time and place in which it was built.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Richard Powers’s complex, powerful novel is, at its heart, an ode to trees (but we promise, there are also some incredibly compelling human characters, too). It’s a good bet for anyone who appreciates nature—and gorgeous, poetic prose.
1000 Record Covers by Michael Ochs
Paging all cool dads—vinyl is officially back in style, so now is a good time to pull out the old collection. This is a great book to flip through while rocking out, and since it’s focused on covers from the ’60s through the ’90s, we’re betting that dad will find plenty of his favorites.